Sleeping in Airports
9H capsules
(photo courtesy of Nacasa and Partners)

Capsule Hotel Opens At Tokyo Narita Airport

Tokyo’s Narita International Airport (NRT) made a significant upgrade this month with the grand opening of the newest nine hour (9h) hotel. Located a few steps outside of Terminal 2, this futuristic capsule-style hotel will rapidly transform the city’s emerging hub for budget flights.

The concept for the 9h model is straightforward. Upon checking in, guests receive a key that provides access to a locker, a shower and your private capsule. Guests are also provided with a towel, a handful of toiletries and some loungewear. Each capsule is a meter high and two meters long, and is stacked beside and on top of other capsules in gender-specific sections. Inside the pod, guests find Air Cyclone mattresses, designed specifically to provide maximum comfort in this unique space. While the ultra-modern looking hotel does evoke some imagery of a space-age science lab, we are quite sure these affordable pods offer a great deal more comfort and security than the chilly airport floor.

A full night costs just under USD 40, with check-in available at all hours and a constant 10am checkout. If you do not need an entire night, two-hour nap packages are available for roughly USD 15, and one-hour shower packages are available for USD 10. The hotel is open 24 hours a day, ensuring all travelers and flight schedules can be accommodated; however, only full nights can be reserved in advance online. Nap and shower packages are sold on a first-come first-serve basis.

Narita Airport itself is located roughly 80km outside of Tokyo’s city center, with a very limited number of accommodations in its direct vicinity. Public transit connects the airport to the city largely during daytime hours, and road travel can easily take over two hours. Given that most of the budget flights depart in the early morning hours, prior to the July 20th of budget travelers sprawled out on couches – or mourning the loss of the money spent on expensive cab fare and a short stay at a hotel. In the wintertime, you were also likely to find several frustrated travelers stranded at this remote airport due to bad weather delays and cancellations. The hope now is that these unhappy travelers will find solace – or at least a bit of rejuvenation – in one of these comfortable pods.

Japan more broadly has had a long history with capsule hotels, having opened the first of its kind in Osaka in 1979. Since then, a number of these clever, efficient and budget-friendly initiatives have cropped up across the country – though this is the first to be associated with an airport. As 9h’s second franchise – the flagship hotel is located in Kyoto – we hope a stay here will be a significant and worthwhile upgrade from the floor.

We are however curious to hear feedback – has anyone made it to the 9h Narita hotel yet? Is it comfortable or claustrophobic? And, most importantly, is it worth spending the few extra yen?


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  • Yes! Just stayed at the 9h NRT hotel. And it wasn’t half bad for a short overnighter.

    I was flying standby out of NRT and didn’t get onto the flight. Tried to stay overnight in the airport but was politely ushered out through immigration at 9pm.
    At that point, what could be better than a “hotel” within walking distance (if you are in NRT Terminal 2) or bus transfer (if you are in Terminal 1, you have to get over to Terminal 2 by bus. Head to the yellow #6 bus waiting area right outside. Get off at stop #8 at Terminal 2).

    Finding the hotel was simple (from terminal 2 follow the large 9h signs up the escalator and over to the car park area — where they also have a Dog Hotel and Dog Gym, believe it or not!).

    Checking in was super easy. I made last-minute reservations through with the NRT free wifi in terminal 1. The nice young people behind the check-in counter couldn’t have been more friendly and spoke impeccable English. They provide you with a dressing gown, disposable slippers, a bath towel, a hand towel, a key to a locker, and an assigned sleeping pod.

    My locker was a bit larger than my old high-school locker and I was able to fit two stuffed carry-on bags easily. You change into your sleep shirt, don the dressing gown and slippers, take your bag of towels with your ipad, and stash everything else into the locker. Head to the showers (individual and private) where soap, shampoo, and hair rinse is provided and then on to “bed.”

    Ditch your slippers outside the pod and tuck in. The beds are clean, private, and semi comfortable. Big molded plastic honeycomb things lined with mattresses. Pillows filled with — buckwheat, maybe? — and a duvet. A screen pulls down over the entrance. Here’s where your ipad comes in: Free wifi! So you can check your email and cruise the web but cell phones are not allowed. The sleeping area is designated a quiet area. And if more late-night chatty Japanese teenagers paid attention to that designation, it actually would be … semi-quiet. I say “semi” because the whole contraption is a large piece of plastic. So every time you move, it creaks. If you have a toss-and-turner next to you, it will be a noisy night. For that reason, they have provided piped in rain sounds to mask the noise. You can control the volume.

    Oh, and if you check in at 9-ish, your checkout time is 5:15am. So don’t check in until you’re really ready to go to bed and get that 8 hours of semi-sleep. When I stuck my head out of my cocoon in the morning, I saw lots and lots of disposable slippers lined up outside cocoons all down the hallway, so I guess the honeycomb filled up during the night.

    I walked out, past the Dog Gym where several dogs were getting their early-morning workout, and onto the bus at Terminal 2’s Stop #8. Easy. Clean. Cheap. Perfect for an unplanned NRT stopover.