We’ve got a new champion when it comes to Tokyo capsule hotels in this price range.

Generally speaking, travelers in Japan don’t stay at capsule hotels for the ambiance, since instead of a full guestroom, you just get a sleeping bunk, slotted into a wall and open at the end. The rest of the amenities are usually pretty bare-bones too, with the upside being much lower prices than you’d pay for a room in a conventional hotel, and often with a location right in the middle of a big city.

But we recently stumbled across a capsule hotel with a great location in central Tokyo that also has an elegant, relaxing atmosphere, because it’s more like a capsule version of a ryokan, a traditional Japanese inn.

From out on the street, we wouldn’t have known what a treat we were in for. Though it’s located just a two-minute walk from the Akasaka-mitsuke subway station, a fashionable part of downtown less than 15 minutes by rail from the Shinjuku, Shibuya, and Roppongi neighborhoods, Capsule Hatago Akasaka Spa: Blic Inn is located inside a building that houses a bunch of unrelated bars and restaurants.

▼ The building’s entrance

Head up to the third floor, though, and once you step into the capsule hotel’s lobby, the clean and classic interior design makes you feel like you’re in a ryokan miles away from the city center.

Among the decorative flourishes are a kaidantansu (stairway-shaped chest of drawers) and irori (sunken hearth).

Capsule Hatago Akasaka Spa: Blic Inn (which we’ll just call Spa: Blic, for short) charges less than 5,000 yen (US$37) a night. With prices like that, we weren’t expecting the common-use areas to be anywhere near this spacious, bright, and inviting.

▼ Because the facility is ryokan-style, you take off your shoes when entering, and are given a key for the box you lock them in.

Next to the dining area is a huge 92-tatami (168-square meter [1,806-square foot]) “relax space,” equipped with nice, soft zabuton cushions to lounge on and a TV to watch.

Of course, with all the old-school Japanese aesthetics around you, you might want to indulge in some old-school Japanese entertainment, so there are sets for go and shogi, Japan’s two most popular traditional board games, for guests to play with.

As you might have guessed from the “Spa” part of the name, there’s also an on-site large Japanese-style communal bath, as well as two different sauna rooms, one with an advanced AI system to maintain just the right temperature and amount of steam, and Japanese hinoki (cedar) fixtures.

Speaking of ways to relax, at check-in you’re also provided with a yukata (lightweight kimono) to wear inside the hotel, if you so desire.

The towel we were given to use was first-rate too, feeling like something you’d get at a fancy luxury hotel. The bath area is also stocked with combs, shaving razors, skin lotion, and hair-styling wax.

And if you’re not in the mood for a Japanese-style bath, there are private stand-up showers too.

As with many capsule hotels, Spa: Blic only accepts male guests, and the sauna and bath (which can also be used by day visitors, for a fee) are men-only as well. However, the on-site restaurant, also a rarity for a capsule hotel, can be used by men or women.

▼ The late-night menu has snacks like edamame and French fries as well as more substantial fare like grilled fish, fried rice, ramen, and mentaiko (spicy cod roe) spaghetti.

Once our mental state went from comfortably lazy to ready-for-bed sleepy, we made our way to our capsule.

Here, again, the hotel was impressively clean, and the sleeping area is nicely ventilated too, thanks to air intakes that cycle in outside air.

Honestly, the only thing that wasn’t particularly stylish-looking was our capsule itself.

But you know what? We were so relaxed by that point that we only spent a few moments in our capsule before we drifted off to sleep, at which point it really didn’t matter what it looked like.

We’d go so far as to say that in the 3,000-to-5,000-yen price range, this is the best capsule hotel we’ve stayed at in Tokyo, and definitely someplace to keep in mind if you’re looking for budget travel accommodations or get stuck in the city after missing your last train home of the night.

Hotel information
Capsule Hatago Akasaka Spa: Blic / かぷせる旅籠 赤坂 SPA:BLIC INN
Address: Tokyo-to, Minato-ku, Akasaka 3-10-4, Akasaka Getsu Sekai Building 3rd floor
住所:東京都港区赤坂3-10-4 赤坂月世界ビル3F

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