I’m not sure if I should be writing about our major money saving travel within Japan secret or not. I guess I should begin this post with a warning that this isn’t a typical money saving option, but if you happen to be travelling in Japan and find yourself in a city that’s having a festival with all the rooms already booked up or need a relatively inexpensive place to stay for a night, a Japanese “love hotel” may be an affordable option.
A typical Japanese love hotel sign indicating the prices
First, a bit of an explanation about love hotels. These are hotels that can be used by the hour and while some seedy stuff may go on in some, they were basically developed because many Japanese families live with several generations in the same household. A young couple that wants to spend some time together without their parents or grandparents have a limited opportunity to do so, but they can go off to a love hotel for a few hours and have as much privacy as they want.
While guide books usually write about exotic themed love hotels with strange fetishes, most love hotels look like a typical hotel room, but the room and bathroom will be much more spacious than a typical business type hotel. While an average hotel room in Japan will cost $150 or more, you can stay at a love hotel for $30 to $100 while having a room many times as big. The rooms are always well maintained and clean. The reason for this is that while the love hotel caters primarily toward those for a few hours, they don’t want their rooms sitting empty overnight. They therefore offer them at a much cheaper rate than a typical hotel would.
A display of typical Japanese love hotel rooms you can choose from
There are a few issues to using a love hotel. overnight stays usually begin at 10:00pm to 11:00 pm and you need to be out the next morning by 10:00am. Once you go into the room, you can’t leave (because once the room is opened, this signals to the staff that you have vacated and the room needs to be cleaned). It also may be difficult to locate these hotels unless you know where they are typically located. The person you pay will not know any English and there are not any type of room service typical with a regular hotel.
My wife and I use them regularly when we make single overnight trips around Japan since they allow us to save quite a bit of money. My friends wanted to see one while they were out here (since we had explained to them how we use them to save money on our travels within Japan) so we found this one although we didn’t stay at it. It goes to show that if you look for creative ways to cut expenses and are willing to think a bit outside the box, there are less typical ways to save money out there.