On Sunday the 20th of July, the new Capsule Hotel “nine hours” at Narita Airport opened. This facility is meant to give travelers (mainly businessmen and businesswomen) the option to rest at the airport if they have an early flight or late arrival and public transportation is no longer available. We were invited to test the new capsule hotel before its opening.
How could we say no to a good night’s sleep? We took the express train from Tokyo to Narita Airport Terminal 2, where nine hours is located. The weather was incredibly hot outside and the typhoon Neoguri was heading for Tokyo. We longed for a cool refreshing breeze. Although the signs were not placed yet, as the hotel was not open, we were able to find the location easily and before we knew it, we stood in front of an enormous wall with the words “nine hours” on it.
The name ‘nine hours’ comes from a concept of an ideal format to recharge your battery. This includes a shower for 1 hour, sleeping for 7 hours and resting or relaxing for 1 hour. Combined, this amounts to 9 hours. After this, you should feel completely refreshed. This is how the hotel got its name. It is also possible to just take a nap or shower.
We entered the building and found the refreshing breeze we had longed for. The lounge was fairly small and the walls were white, giving a clean and quiet impression. The walls contained several inscriptions including the rules of the hotel as well as the best way to enjoy your stay. Behind the counter were screens depicting all the departures and arrivals. The rules included no smoking, no eating and drinking (water is allowed), no noise (as you might wake up your fellow guests) and no shoes beyond the locker room. These rules sound fair, do they not? The best way to enjoy our stay was to relax, get some food, shower and then go to bed. But we had to check in first. We were kindly greeted by the personnel of the hotel and checking in did not take long. We were handed a bag including everything we would need during our stay as well as a key to our lockers. The number on the key corresponded with the number on our capsules.
Me and my partner decided to split up to put our bags away and to take a look around. She disappeared into the female section as I entered the male section.
I entered a large gray room, much like a gym, with lockers on each side and white seats in the middle. Due to the numbers on the floor, I was able to find my locker quickly, but decided to examine the contents of the bag first. The bag contained two towels, which were as soft as silk, a toothbrush, a bathrobe and a pair of slippers. Much to my delight, the woman behind the counter had given me a size L bathrobe. With my 192cm, I was afraid I would end up with a short dress rather than a bathrobe. However, it fitted me perfectly.
Next was the locker. I opened the door and saw the locker was large enough to fit a suitcase, while still leaving room for your hand luggage and other baggage. It was even possible to hang my jacket or shirt. How thoughtful! Though I did not have much luggage myself, I decided to leave it in the locker and continue on my journey through nine hours.
After I took off my shoes and put on my slippers, I went through the door and entered a long hall. To my right was a door that would lead to the capsules. There turned out to be several entrances to the capsules. This meant that you could go to your capsule while disturbing the least amount of people. Once again, very thoughtful, nine hours!
The hall before me turned out to be the hall to the sinks and the bathrooms. As with the locker room, the walls were gray, but the right side of the wall was completely covered by a mirror. Under the mirror were numerous sinks. Next to the sinks there were several outlets, where guests could shave or even dry their hair, as hair dryers were available for free. They really thought of everything! Opposite to the mirror where the toilets. One cleaner than the other, the stalls were of high technology (motion-censored flushing system).
It was time to move on to the next room. I walked through the door and entered the hall with the showers. There were several stalls in this long gray hall. The use of the color gray might sound a little dull, but it actually puts your mind at ease, which is exactly what nine hours is for; to be able to put your mind at ease before or after a flight. I opened the door to one of the showers, and was surprised by the size of the showers. “These are bigger than the shower I have at home,” I said to myself. I could easily stand up straight under the shower, which is kind of rare for me in Japan, and the shower was big enough for two. The door was completely made out of glass, while the other walls existed of small ceramic tiles. Free soap, shampoo and conditioner were available, so I did not have to bring my own. There were two shelves on the wall in front of the shower to put your bathrobe and silky towels. After gazing at the shower for a while, I left this luxury for the main reason of our visit: the capsules
I walked back to the door and entered the hall with the capsules. When I entered the room, I saw countless capsules lined up in front of me. Rather than the gray colors of the other rooms, the walls were black, which gave the feeling as if it were already night. The lights on the ceiling shine a dim light, which allows guests to sleep without being disturbed by a bright light. There is also light coming from the capsules.
I was not sure if I was able to fit in one of these capsules, but as I laid down, I realized I could lay down flat on my back without any body parts sticking out. I was even able to turn without bumping my head into one of the walls. I could lay my stuff down next to me and still have enough room to rest.
The capsule was very comfortable and I could have fallen asleep if it were not for the fact I had to meet up again with my partner soon. The capsule slowly obtains the right temperature and it comes equipped with a light switch, a plug-in for your headphones to listen to some relaxing sounds, for if you need help to fall asleep, and an emergency button. It also has an outlet to charge one of your electronic devices. Do remember to bring an universal adapter as the outlets available are Japanese outlets.
Lastly, the capsule comes with a screen to prevent you from being watched by others as you sleep, completely isolating you from the outside world. From inside, I could not hear a single sound, not from the airport nor any airplane. The only sound I could softly hear, was my neighbor’s snoring. He apparently had already fallen asleep. Was his snoring a sign that I would have a good night? It sure seemed so.
It was time to meet back up with my partner. We both appeared in the lounge at the same time and we decided to do what the walls told us was best. We gave our keys back to the lady behind the counter (be sure to remember your number!) and left the building. It was raining outside. The blue sky had changed into a black sky. Neoguri was closing in. Luckily we did not have to go outside and we arrived at the check-in desks within two minutes.†
In the middle we found a display of one of the capsules at nine hours. From time to time, people were checking out the capsule. “nine hours” was written on all sides of the capsule, together with the opening date. It was possible to take a look into the capsule, but it was forbidden to enter it. Soon however, our stomachs started to grumble. It was time for dinner. We looked up a ramen place above the check-in desks and treated ourselves to some good food. After dinner, we got some coffee and relaxed, while watching the developments surrounding Neoguri on the news. We sure hoped Neoguri would not ruin our test-stay. It was quiet at this time of the evening, even at the airport, so we were able to relax and enjoy our coffee in a serene environment. Soon however, despite the coffee, our eyes became heavy and we decided to head back to the hotel and start the real test: the sleep test.
We headed back to the hotel and asked for our keys upon entering the facility. We said our good nights and each went our separate ways. I changed in the locker room and put on my size L bathrobe. I got my silky towels out and hit the showers. As expected, the shower was tall enough for me. The water was warm and the flow of the water was just perfect.
After enjoying the shower as well as the silky towels, I already felt refreshed. I went back to the locker room and put away my towels. Then, I headed to the sinks to dry my hair and brush my teeth. I noticed my yawns started to increase in numbers and it was time for me to go to bed.
I visited the locker rooms one more time and put my electronic devices in the bag that I was given by the lady behind the counter. I headed for my capsule and made myself at home upon arrival. I plugged in one of my devices and checked my Emails and social media before sleeping thanks to the free available Wi-Fi (you can get the password at the counter). However, I soon put away my computer and laid down for some sleep.
My neighbor was still snoring like a bear, but the sound got muffled by the capsules, so it was not able to keep me awake. Besides the soft snoring, I could not hear a single thing, and I was not even sure if Neoguri was still out there. It did not take long before I fell asleep.
I woke up the next morning at 8:30. I did not wake up once and had slept great. Of course, I was still a bit drowsy, as is everyone in the morning, but I was not tired. My belongings were still where I left them and as I could not find any dents in the capsule, nor bumps on my body, it was safe to say I had slept without bumping into either side of the wall. I gathered my devices, got up and made the bed. It was time for my morning ritual. I headed to the locker room, got out my towels and took another shower.Afterwards, I shaved, did my hair and brushed my teeth. Because my belongings were still inside the locker, it did not take any time to pack my stuff and I arrived at the lounge at 9 am.†
I handed the bag and my key to the man behind the counter. “That is all,” he said, “We hope you had a pleasant night. Thank you for coming.” As I indeed had a pleasant night, I nodded and thanked the man. My partner arrived not before long and checked-out as well. We once again thanked the man and headed out to the airport for breakfast. After enjoying some lovely pancakes, I was awake, refreshed and ready to go. So was my partner.
We once again checked the display of the capsule and headed back to the train station. The sun was shining outside and there was no sign of Neoguri. We were not even sure if it had passed us, as neither of us had heard anything. While riding the express train home, I looked outside the window to the Japanese landscape. I usually fall asleep while riding a train, but as I was wide awake, I felt no need to, allowing me to enjoy the beautiful weather outside. There really was no sign of Neoguri. If it did hit us, we had neither noticed it nor heard it.
The hotel really locked out every sound, allowing for some good rest. We fully recommend the capsule hotel to any businessman, businesswoman or tourist. For a small price, you are able to enjoy a good rest, allowing you to start your next day refreshed after a late arrival. It also allows you to be in time for your early departure without having to worry about any problems with public transportation. Though the facilities at the hotel are limited, restaurant, bars, check-in desks and other facilities are just two to three minutes away. The train station is just a mere four minutes away. Give yourself a good night’s sleep and start the next day refreshed. It sure worked for us!
- nine hours Narita Airport
- ￥3900 (1 stay)
- Check-in possible 24 hours in advance; check-out before 10:00 am
- 129 (71 male; 58 female)
- Parking Lot B1F, Narita International Airport Terminal 2; 1-1 Furugome, Narita-City, Chiba 282-0004 Japan
- Donator / Management
- Ninehours Inc.
written by ：C.R