As we’ve travelled across Japan we’ve often come across ‘love hotels’ when searching for accommodation. On the likes of hotels.com they’re often referred to as ‘couples hotels’ and their true nature isn’t explained until you do a bit of digging on Google! We recently stayed in one of these Japanese love hotels in Himeji so if you want to know what to expect, read on..

What are Japanese love hotels?

The main difference between a ‘Japanese love hotel’ and a normal hotel is these ones can be rented by the hour! Based on the prices we’ve seen the rooms are generally around £40 for a full night or £20 for 2 hours. It’s unlikely you’ll find anyone on reception when you enter as they pride themselves on discretion, which is understandable as I’ve noticed how shy Japanese people are. Instead you’re greeted with a touchscreen where you can pick your room, pay and then enter without having to see anyone. Parking is often kept underground aswell to avoid guests being seen.

Another major difference is what you’ll find inside the room, more on that later when I explain what we were faced with upon check in! If you pay a bit extra you can opt for a themed room, which could include anything from a spinning bed and Jacuzzi to Hello Kitty decor.

Why are they popular?

As you might already know, Japan is very densely populated! There’s twice as many people here than the UK and whilst it’s obviously a larger country, 85% of it is uninhabited as its mountainous. It’s not uncommon for 3 generations of a family to live in one house (which is generally much smaller than we are used to in the Western world). As a result many Japanese people are lacking privacy and their own space!

So to meet this demand ‘love hotels’ started cropping up around the country in the 60’s and quickly became very popular. It’s estimated they are currently visited by 1.7bn citizens per day!

Who visits them?

Obviously there is a shady side to ‘love hotels’ so I’m sure they’re rife with couples having affairs on the sly. On the other hand though, apparently they’re popular with young couples looking for their own space. Even married couples are said to be regulars!

Our first impressions

The hotel was lovely inside, it was noticeably more luxurious than anywhere else we’d stayed in Japan despite the £27 price tag! When we entered there was nobody insight, just a screen which was obviously in Japanese and made no sense to us! After pressing some random buttons the receptionist did appear though.

Checking in was a bit of an ordeal. We had booked on hotels.com for a full night but upon arriving it turned out there was 2 buildings, one for the hourly guests and one for us! Eventually, after a lot of miscommunication with the Japanese speaking receptionist we were escorted to the other building and managed to check in. I have to say it’s the first time I’ve checked in anywhere where lingerie was on sale behind the receptionist 🙂

Finally getting into our room we were pleasantly surprised! The room itself was huge by Japanese standards, which is common for ‘love hotels’. There was a separate wet room with heated floor, a bath, TV and all the toiletries you could ever want. The lounge had a king size bed (I haven’t been in a king size bed since America!), a sofa, 40″ TV complete with PlayStation, Karaoke, surround sound, DVD player and hundreds of free films. Not to mention the full size slot machine sitting in the corner. How is this £27 we were thinking?

What was in the room?

We wasn’t in a themed room so there wasn’t anything too whacky on first glance, although I can’t say i’ve ever had karaoke and a slot machine in a hotel room before! On closer inspection though it became clear what these ‘love hotels’ are all about.

The first cupboard I opened had a dispenser for lingerie and lube in it. The TV in the bathroom only had one genre of channel available, if you know what I mean. Worst of all was the ‘body massager’ which was attached to the headboard. I say body massager as this is what it’s labelled as in the hotel brochure (they even had pictures of how to use it on your back, neck etc). However a quick Google for the ‘massagers’ brand showed it’s real use :/

Anyway they say a picture speaks a thousand words so take a look inside:

Would we stay again?

Yes, definitely! Considering the price, I’d actually really recommend these hotels if you’re in Japan. If you can look past the sleaze, they offer rooms bigger and more luxurious than anything else in the price bracket. There’s always free parking, the rooms are quiet and the internet was super quick. And don’t forget you can sing the night away with karaoke, if you can read the Japanese instructions that is!