The following is a 2001 travel diary entry by yours truly,
reworked for E2.
Combined spa and capsule hotels are quite popular throughout
Japan, and are often well worth the extra ¥1000 or so compared to
a "normal" capsule hotel.
After some random rambling among the soaplands of Susukino
(Sapporo, Japan) I
stumbled onto the Hokuo (北欧, "Northern Europe")
Spa and Capsule Hotel,
which is a
cavernous spa complex with a multi-floor vertical layer of capsules
bolted on. Entry is a stiff ¥2500 to the spa (obligatory) plus ¥1200
for a capsule and ¥600 as an extra night fee (applied 22-06), totaling
¥4300 (around $40), which can
be considered either really bloody expensive for a bath, or a cheap
night's lodging in the heart of town with an extraordinary spa thrown
in for free.
Capsules are well-named: they're self-contained little units,
larger than the average train berth or, come to think of it, the
average half-a-bunk-bed you're allocated in most youth hostels
(even I find it easy to sit up inside one) and with a TV, radio, light
control, etc built in. The check-in procedure, however, is a little
on the complicated side:
- remove your shoes on entry
- put them in a little locker in the lobby
- check in at the front desk
- exchange your shoe locker key for a clothes locker key
- find your capsule
- put your street clothing and baggage in the nearby locker
- which, BTW, will probably be too small for
your rucksack, although I managed to predict this and left mine at the
- change into the bathrobe
- go explore the spa!
The bathrobe is what you wear
around the hotel, when you go to the baths just take a towel (free) and
leave your robe in a basket.
Hokuo's spa is on a grander scale than
most and in fact immediately topped yesterday's record
for wackiest spa,
off the top of my head the place has hot baths inside and outside, cold
baths inside and outside, saunas both inside and outside (in a faux
a tepid jacuzzi, body-shaped jet baths, a steam bath,
a cold waterfall,
a shower area... I hope you'll excuse me if I forgot a few. You also get
free underwear, toothbrushes, razors, Q-tips, and use of
paraphernalia (including, oddly enough, shampoo and rinse bottles
labeled "Tukanpesu" and "Huuhtelu" in Finnish!) and there are also rooms
for exercise, quiet relaxation, watching movies, plus a beauty parlor,
massage parlor, pub, and other value-added services. All quite legit
the place is visited families with kids and even has a capsule floor
reserved for women. There are more than enough services of a more
dubious nature everywhere else in Susukino... and yes, you can leave
and come back (check-out is at 5 PM!), but in order to reclaim your
shoes you'll have to settle the bill first, which can be paid with VISA.
When you return, just show them your receipt to reclaim your locker
In all, definitely worth checking out should you end up in Sapporo.
Hokuo is at South 6 West 5 a block from the unmistakable exterior of
the King Xmhu (read: "Moo") disco and and seems reasonably happy to
accommodate gaijin with some semblance of a clue.