Capsule hotels: More than just a hostel with doors

By Jeremy Niass @JeremyNiass

Capsule hotels have long been popular in Japan. Since their introduction in the 1970s, capsule hotels have spread across the world, eventually finding their way to Australia.  

But what is a capsule hotel? 

A capsule hotel is a hotel where your room is a small “pod”, with two pods stacked on top of each other (similar to a bunk bed). Each room gets a little door that gives you an extra sense of privacy.  

All other facilities (kitchen, bathroom, and laundry) are shared between guests.  

There are currently two capsule hotels in Sydney: The Capsule Hotel and Space Q Capsule Hotel.  

Both located on George Street, their central location is appealing. As is the price, too – a search on reveals the starting price of a room is $53.  

But is the experience of a capsule hotel worth it? I stayed at both hotels to find out.  

The room

The capsules had a futuristic vibe. Their design made me feel I was on a spaceship.

The rooms were quite spacious, given their compact nature. I had a reasonable amount of space to move around and I never felt as if I was crammed into the capsule.

This spaciousness owes much to the colour choice. The colours in the capsule were neutral, with white the predominant colour.

Because my senses of touch and sight were not overloaded, I felt calm and at ease.

There were multiple lights in each capsule, most of which could have their brightness adjusted. I was pleasantly surprised to find that each capsule was well lit, and it was useful for when I wanted to read a book.

The capsules weren’t too hot or stuffy. Each capsule had air-conditioning, and if I felt too hot I would leave my door open to make the capsule cooler.

Combine all of this with a firm mattress and pillow, and I found the capsules to be quite comfortable.

There was the occasional noisy person or a door banging, but it wasn’t disruptive enough to the point I regretted staying at the hotel. Overall, getting a good night’s sleep wasn’t too hard.

There wasn’t much room in the capsule for storing my belongings. I managed to fit my valuable possessions inside, but that was about it.

To compensate for this, each hotel had a storage locker. They weren’t super large, and depending on what I was carrying with me, I had to leave my suitcase on the floor (alongside the suitcases of the other guests).

The facilities

The facilities at each hotel were adequate.

The kitchens were generously sized and had some appliances. I didn’t do any cooking, but I could easily make a cup of coffee or tea – noting that I supplied my own coffee and teabags.

Depending on the floor of the hotels, there were two toilets and two bathrooms. But I never experienced a line up.

Being shared facilities, their cleanliness is conditional on the courtesy of other guests. And yes, the facilities can sometimes be a little bit messy.

But I found the cleaners did a reasonable job of cleaning up any mess, such as a dirty kitchen sink.

On the topic of people, I found the people at each hotel to be friendly. A smile and hello at my end was always returned in kind.

The Capsule Hotel’s pods feature the same design as Space Q’s pods. Photo: YouTube

Is it for you?

Should you consider staying at a capsule hotel?

It likely comes down to your expectations. I enjoyed staying there, but I had to adjust my expectations for the fact that I was sharing facilities with numerous people.

What I liked most about capsule hotels was the atmosphere created by staying with so many people. Each hotel never felt dull, and it was great to meet people from different backgrounds.

I recommend treating capsule hotels similarly to a hostel but with more privacy. If you approach them this way, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

But if you don’t like small spaces or sharing facilities, or you are a light sleeper, then a capsule hotel might not be for you.

I think capsule hotels are worth trying – and for the price, I don’t think you’ll feel that you have lost much if you decide they aren’t for you.

Feature Image: Space Q Capsule Hotel is one of two capsule hotels in Sydney. Photo: YouTube 

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