Is it more awkward to spend a night in a room with one stranger than a whole group of them?

We’re not exactly rookies when it comes to staying in budget-priced travel accommodations, and we’re well aware that one of the surest ways to lower your hotel expenses is by giving up some privacy. So as we explore the lowest-priced places to stay in and around Tokyo, we’ve spent a lot of nights in capsule hotels and hostels, where you’re sharing the room you’re sleeping in with a group of strangers.

We’ve gotten pretty used to that, but our recent stay in And Hostel still threw us for a bit of a loop.

Let’s start with the good things, though. First, we paid just 2,493 yen (US$16) for the night, thanks to a deal we found on Rakuten Travel for what was listed as a “shared dormitory room.” The hotel’s location is convenient, just a five-minute walk from the Tokyo Metro’s Minami Senju Station, from where it’s just a short ride on the Hibiya Line to the city center and the sightseeing attractions of Ueno, Akihabara, Tsukiji, and Ginza. The lobby has a minimalist but modern vibe to it, like a cool hair salon, with multiple couches to relax on.

A wall of Polaroids left by former guests accompanied by the question “Where are you from?” shows the hotel’s welcoming atmosphere towards international travelers.

There’s a drink station with free coffee, black tea, and water

…and a kitchenette area too with a fridge, microwave, and even an IH cooking range.

As with a lot of ultra low-price hotels, there are extra charges for certain amenities and toiletries, but none of the them are budget-busting. 300 yen for a towel felt a little steep, but you can get around that by grabbing a towel at Daiso or another 100 yen shop for a third of the price somewhere out in town.

Guest rooms are located on the 2nd through 10th floors, so after we checked in we hopped on the elevator and rode it up to the 3rd floor, where we’d be spending the night.

Getting off the elevator, everything still looked more or less like what we’ve cone to expect from hotels like this. When we got to our “dormitory room,” Room 307, we imagined there’d be rows of sleeping capsules inside.

But when we opened the door and stepped inside, we were shocked at just how little empty floor space there was…

…and were startled again to find that instead of being a room for a whole group of people, this is a room for exactly two.

Yep, almost the entirety of the room is taken up by a single bunk bed, with one mattress on the bottom and one on the top. When we’d booked our “dormitory room,” we’d imagined that we’d be sleeping in a room with a whole bunch of other travelers. Instead, we had a very cozy room and a complete-stranger roommate.

Depending on your personality, you might find sharing a room with one stranger to feel more awkward than sharing one with an entire group of them. If you’ve got a half-dozen people in a room, you can kind of blend anonymously into the atmosphere. With just you and a roommate, though, you’re going to know that any sleep/relaxation-obstructing noise, light, or other annoyances are coming from the other person, and even if they’re not bothering you, you might feel extra pressure to stay as quiet as possible so as not to bother them.

There was already a jacket hanging in the room when we entered, so we knew for sure that we were going to have someone sleeping in the bunk above us that night, who’d apparently stepped out for a bit. We decided to hear across the hallway to the shower in order to get cleaned up and into bed before our roommate returned…

…but we actually ended up bumping into them at the entrance to our room on our way back, exchanging somewhat stilted nods of hello and good night.

As for our bunk itself, it got full marks. The sleeping space was impeccably clean, with a nice, soft mattress and fluffy pillow. There are also four power plugs (two standard and two USB) to help keep all your devices’ batteries topped up, and while the hotel will charge you extra for a towel or toothbrush, they provide earplugs free of charge.

It was definitely an unusual experience for us to spend the night sleeping so close to one person we’d never met but still separated off from anyone else. Still, if that’s not something that’s going to prevent you from relaxing and snoozing comfortably, And Hostel’s price is hard to beat.

Hotel information
And Hostel Minami Senju
Address: Tokyo-to, Arakawa-ku, Minami Senju 3-2-9

Photos © SoraNews24
● Want to hear about SoraNews24’s latest articles as soon as they’re published? Follow us on Facebook and Twitter!
[ Read in Japanese ]