Capsule hotels are all the rage in Japan, where efficiency and affordability often trump comfort for those who travel solo. Now the concept has taken hold on a new island nation: Australia.
According to an article in the Sydney Morning Herald, Sydney has become the first Australian city to embrace this style of hotel. The accommodations, dubbed The Capsule Hotel, opened late last month on George Street in the central business district. The price: roughly $50 to $70 per night.
The capsule model certainly is a departure from traditional hotels—think of it as a cross between a hostel and an army barracks. Instead of boasting individual rooms, hotels in this style offer berth-style beds. The properties also offer individual bathrooms, as well as a number of communal spaces, dining areas, and other places for guests to socialize.
The Sydney property takes a similar approach. All told, the hotel offers 72 futuristic-looking capsules with beds ranging in size from single to queen. Each capsule includes its own climate control and a large LED screen and entertainment system with Wi-Fi and mood lighting.
Each capsule also has a smoke detector, fire alarm, fire extinguisher, SOS button, and secure enclosure, so guests can stash valuables without having to worry. Other amenities at the Sydney property: a self-catering kitchen, breakfast bar, and rooftop terrace.
When compared with pod- or capsule-style options in Japan, The Capsule Hotel is, well, super-nice. Upstairs, rooms with sleeping quarters look like something out of Star Trek, with muted colors and tiny disc-shaped steps leading up to capsules on the second level. Downstairs, the reception area is bathed in light, while the kitchen is modern with ample counter space. The Century Bar, on the lower floors (it shares an owner with the hotel), is one of the swankier nightlife options in Sydney’s urban core.
That’s why The Capsule Hotel might seem downright spendy compared to Japan’s similar hotel concepts—in Tokyo, capsule rooms go for no more than $30 per night, but they aren’t quite as nice.
Still, the Sydney Morning Herald article noted that a price check of accommodation options nearby found the price point sits between a bed in a mixed dorm at a hostel ($30) and a studio on Airbnb ($90). The piece added that The Capsule Hotel also may appeal to the bridge-and-tunnel crowd stuck in the city after a night on the town: even with ride sharing, late-night trips to the suburbs often cost upward of $100.
Before you book, determine if you’re comfortable sleeping in a tight space and consider investigating the new property. While capsule living is perfectly legitimate, travelers who are used to staying in spacious hotel rooms (or those who might be claustrophobic) may have a hard time in such tight quarters overnight.
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Matt Villano Matt Villano is a writer and editor based in Healdsburg, California. To learn more about him, visit whalehead.com.