Monday, 8 August 2011

9 hours in Kyoto

Japanese capsule hotels have always intrigued me. Who stays in these places? How do you sleep in a space barely bigger than a coffin? And don't you get woken up by the snoring of your neighbours? On my last trip to Kyoto I decided to check out 9 hours - a new capsule hotel with a difference.

As you can see from the video - 9 hours is definitely a uniquely Japanese experience. Virtually everything follows a colour pattern of white, black and a few spots of red - all carefully designed from the shoe lockers to the slippers, pyjamas and tooth brushes. 9 hours even developed its own fragrance for its shampoo, conditioner and body wash. Flat, form and texture - all the objects fit into one of three design categories.

The highlight of course are the capsules or as the hotel refers to them: "sleeping pods". It's all high-tech with sleep control systems designed to make you sleep more comfortably and wake-up with the gradual increase of light. Significant research - I was told - has also gone into designing pillows and mattresses in order to create a cozy space that promotes peaceful sleep.

The traditional market for capsule hotels are businessmen needing an affordable place to stay. 9 hours takes it one step further and creates a stylish place of transit. It also offers the same amenities for women hence the women's only elevators that lead to women only capsule floors to make them feel comfortable, safe and secure.

For those of you who are thinking of visiting Kyoto and maybe staying at 9 hours - definitely try it for the experience. The design is great, the pods are comfy and I slept really well. But anything longer than one night might leave you - as in my case - wanting a few more comforts from a normal hotel room. I missed a comfortable lounge to chill and read. And the lockers on the floors are simply not big enough for overseas travellers with a lot of luggage. Though I must say after a couple of nights in Ms Hashimoto's quaint traditional Japanese B&B smack bang in the old town (which I loved!) 9 hours couldn't have made for a starker contrast. Tradition and high-tech, elaborate rituals and minimalist design - in Japan it's all side by side and that's one of the many reasons why I find this country so fascinating.



Virginie 18 August 2011 at 10:00  

Great video Barbara! The design and edit matches the minimalist and design pure of the place you feature. It gives a good idea of the feeling of this special hotel...Having briefly experienced Japan myself I totally relate to your fascination, the co-existence of traditional, ritualized, ancient culture with the super high tech, ultra modern technological elaborations in its most urban...

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