There’s a mirror on the ceiling, handcuffs and whips hanging on the walls, a giant heart-shaped bed, and leather costumes hanging in the closet to wear. You pay by the hour, use to your heart’s content. The transaction is concluded in a machine, no one sees you, and at the end you sneak out stealthily and leave as if nothing ever happened…. You take the map in your hand and continue to explore Tokyo, because you just spent a quite ordinary and quiet night for affordable money in one of the many hotels…. love :)
Today about unusual hotels in Japan that can evoke extreme emotions. Some avoid them by a wide margin, others secretly try to peek inside, while others boldly take advantage and treat them as a way to stay overnight while visiting the cherry blossom country. In this post, we dispel some myths, preconceptions and explain what love hotels are and why the Japanese are so eager to use them.
Table of contents
What is a love hotel?
What are the so-called.
or Rabu Hoteru? In a nutshell, these are hotels that are rented by the hour, although it is also possible to stay the whole night. They are maintained in different styles and climates, and the interiors and furnishings are conducive to romantic elation. In addition to the typical purpose of spending intoxicating hours for two, many people rent them for completely different purposes: cosplay reenactments, parties with smaller groups, a few hours of sleep after a party or even to spend a few moments alone.
Their origins date back to the late 1960s, with the first love hotel established in Osaka.
Currently, there are about 37,000 love hotels across Japan, they have a total of some 500 million annual (!) customer visits each year, and they generate more than $47 billion annually in the process
[source1], [source2], [source3].
What do love hotels look like?
Some Love Hotels look completely inconspicuous and it was only through the listed hourly prices that we were able to recognize them. Modest, poor, minimalist, with single information placards, often only in Japanese. They don’t attract attention, and when you don’t know they exist you can just pass them on the street without paying particular attention.
However, you will see and recognize many of them from afar. From the outside, they attack with references to other cultures and traditions, and promote themselves as a place of relaxation and leisure, but we have also seen some that outright echo sex. And so we have castles, ships, neon signs, fancy entrances, screens, mysterious atriums. Entrances to such hotels can be kitschy, plastic, with strange columns, sculptures, excessive ornamentation. As a rule, they blandly blend in with the other buildings in the area.
As a rule, the signal that we are dealing with a love hotel should be a posted or displayed hourly price list. This can be a price per hour or a time slot. The slogan rest often appears, suggesting that this is not a typical overnight hotel (if there is also a stay slogan you can easily stay an entire night). Other slogans that should catch (or divert) your attention include fashion hotel, romance hotel, amusement hotel or leisure hotel.
And what is it like inside? Diverse! In many hotels, already at the entrance we see screens displaying what rooms are currently available with photos. Hotel interiors can be quite modern and automated – you are given a route to a room, arrows appear on the floor for you to follow, and the room is already waiting for you to open. All of this is done in order not to accidentally meet other visitors.
And what do the rooms look like? Some are very common and no different from traditional hotel rooms.
As for the more interesting ones, that is, the less conventional ones, their equipment can be really rich and fancy. Rooms can relate to a theme, and so we meet, for example, pink, plush rooms with such popular motifs as Hello Kitty or unicorns; elegant, full of blood red, flower petals with romantic lighting; but also those with cages, whips and other accessories for sado-maso play. They can be styled as chambers, prisons, caves, schools, hospitals, art galleries, spaceships or even traditional ryokans. This diversity makes it possible to find rooms that meet even the strangest needs.
Some sample rooms
Below you will find just a few examples of the most interesting rooms in hotels of love:
1) At one of the most popular Love Hotels in Shibuya, the P&A Plaza, you’ll find a room with a pool or Japanese onsen (hot spring).
2) One of those that draws attention is undoubtedly the Queen Elizabeth love hotel, which looks like a ship. The rooms, tfu, cabins inside will make you feel like you’re on a real ship, and the “romance” of the place is to be added by two figures on the bow reminiscent of Rose and Jack on the Titanic.
3) Something for the thrill-hungry – a room that we associate with the horror film Hostel, but in fact is a typical SM-style Love Hotel – Hotel Rochelle in Tokyo.
4) Keibajo us hotel, is where you’ll find a schoolroom, a road worker’s workplace or a hospital room, plus the option to rent a role-playing outfit. In total, there are 50 (!) rooms here.
5) Tower’s Hotel in Osaka has a treat for public transportation fans! Metro styled rooms.
Anyway… for the curious, we recommend looking at least on Pinterest, where you will find a sizable collection of photos ;)
It should be added here that the rooms are famous for their incredible cleanliness, order and discretion.
Who benefits from them?
The Japanese are using them mightily. And by no means just to meet in secret with prostitutes, as you probably thought at the beginning (although this is one of the reasons for the visits).
They take advantage, because it is often the only way for them to spend moments of elation with their loved one. Sound romantic? Perhaps all too much so. So the point is that the Japanese, and mainly those living in larger cities, live in small spaces. They share apartments with the family, and the children (quite large children, since we mean the age of 30+) stay with their parents under one roof for quite a long time. This is related to the fact that they do not have a place to spend a few hours alone with the chosen one or the chosen of the heart, and after all, it is known that with the family behind the wall you can not afford to do much ;) And love hotels respond to this need. It is estimated that as much as 50% of sexual intercourse in Japan takes place under such circumstances
It is cheaper for them than renting a hotel room for the whole night, and at the same time they are provided with everything they fantasize about.
What’s more, we found an interesting motivation to go to love hotels – in addition to fancy accessories, guests will also find a bathtub (sometimes even a jacuzzi!), which is in vain in small apartments, so there is also an opportunity for a bath ;)
Love hotels are also an interesting alternative for tourists who are looking for accommodation for a few hours or just for one night.
How much does a room cost at the Love Hotel?
Prices depend on many factors, and one of the main ones is the room facilities.
On average, prices start at approx. 4,000 yen for a 1-2 hour rest (that’s about 120 zloty at the current exchange rate) and 10,000 yen per night (about 300 zloty), but these are prices for rather basic room variants.
Prices vary depending on the day of the week and time of day; on weekends, prices fly up and it can be hard to get free rooms, too.
In some facilities, there are additional vending machines inside where you can rent various equipment, gadgets or purchase condoms (these are often included in the room rate).
How to book a love hotel?
The principle of the hotel is simple, you come and look at what is available. Although more and more of them are moving with the times and booking.com booking options are appearing – but you have to take into account that these are usually the highest list prices and don’t have the fanciest rooms.
So if you want to enter from the street, as we mentioned, it can be difficult for tourists to access them, because often densely the inscriptions are only in Japanese, but nothing difficult for the willing. Technology comes to the rescue – at the entrance to some hotels there are special vending machines that display available rooms and what’s in them. It is up to the customer to choose a room. Payment is made at the vending machine or in the room, and the keys either pop out of the machine or the room door is already waiting open.
If the vending machine is not there, there is still a chance to maintain complete anonymity, because the service is almost hidden. One talks to a person behind a curtain or hidden so that there is hardly any eye contact at all.
We, unfortunately, have not yet had the opportunity to spend the night in such a hotel, but next time during our visit to Japan (and that will surely happen at some point) we would love to use them :)
What do you guys think about such accommodations? Would you take advantage or would you rather avoid such places?
If you would like to read even more about love hotels, here are some interesting sites: Japan-online.co.uk, Fast Japan – 5 themed love hotels, Daily Mail on Love Hotels, Photo essay by Misty Keasler, Japan Guide, Tokyo Cheapo.
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