One of my favorite places to visit in Japan when I was a single man were love hotels for obvious reasons. In a densely populated country where privacy is highly prized, love hotels provide a much needed solution for couples looking for a place to get it on without fear of being caught or disturbed. Many married couples will live with their parents, so these hotels are a Godsend for married couples or cheating spouses. No doubt they are also used by prostitutes to service their clients. Also, they can serve as an affordable accommodation alternative to cash-strapped travellers.
Love Hotels are everywhere in Japan. You’ll find them in the all the big cities, near highways on the city outskirts, in small towns and industrial districts. The architecture of these hotels is quite distinct and unusual. They are easily identified by their neon signs and quirky names; Hotel Coconuts or Hotel Sweet Memory. Some hotels look like a building or structure you would see at Disneyland.
I remember some weeks after moving to Japan visiting the red light district in Shibuya with my Lonely Planet guidebook in hand. I recall being somewhat confused by it all. The hotels had very quirky designs and seemed to be deserted. I wasn’t game enough to go into one alone just too see what the hotel foyer area was like, but I did stick my head in the entrance of one and found the whole place deserted. Little did I know that there were reasons for this.
How Do Love Hotels Work
Not surprisingly checking into a Love Hotel is like using a vending machine. There is no direct contact with staff. You select a room from a large “menu board” that showcases the rooms that are both available and taken. You choose the room you want by pressing a button and then are directed to it with the help of flashing signs located on hallway entrances. In most cases, you will have to ride in a very small elevator up to a floor where your room is on.
The interior of the rooms are very similar to Karaoke rooms, a fake modern chic design. Love hotels are a place to relax and “play”, so they come equipped with karaoke, play station games, a DVD player and inhouse radio and music. They usually have a spa bath and shower, many mirrors, a large TV, a small refrigerator, and a sex toy vending machine. There is always a set of complementary condoms on the bed.
For the adventurous, there are theme hotels including: school classrooms, train carriages and even a kitty character room ( a major turn off). For the hard core, there are dungeon themed rooms with S&M gear. You can order costumes, like school girl uniforms, nurse outfits and so on.
Some hotels even provide room service. So you can have enjoy a meal and build up some stamina for more nookie.
In most the hotels I have stayed at payment has always been made when leaving. Sometimes, rooms are actually locked until you pay. So you have to call when you are done and then you are told how you will have to pay. Some hotels use a by pneumatic tube, where you are sent the bill in a cylindrical container which is propelled through a network of tubes by compressed air . You put your money in the container and send it back. Then the container is sent back to you with your change. There are cases where you will have to pay upfront, either to a vending machine or anonymous staff behind a dark tinted window.
If you are in for a quickie, “a rest’, then you will be charged by the hour, usually around 3000 yen. If you want to stay the whole night, “a stay”, then you will have to pay around 7,000 to 10,000 yen. Friday and Saturday nights are usually more expensive.
Staying in a Love Hotel is a must do experience. The great thing about Japanese culture when it comes to sex is there are no taboos. Guilt or religious beliefs don’t stop Japanese from having some fun. So it shouldn’t stop you while you are there.