21st-century travel has become its own aesthetic, with hotels today a symbol of this romanticized escape. Yet, rather than wooing travelers with spacious luxury, marble surfaces, and free soaps, capsule hotels instead seek to challenge this idea of travel. Originating in Japan in the late 70s as a last-minute, overnight accommodation, capsule hotels soon became synonymous with cheap convenience. However, over the years, they have evolved out of their avant-garde roots and into a cultural phenomenon. Whilst admittedly this accommodation is not for everyone, designers have proven that these small spaces can be just as sophisticated as the traditional hotel room. Below, in no particular order, are 50 of the top capsule hotels around the world.

1. Capsule Inn | Capsule Hotels

Location: Osaka, Japan
Architect: Kisho Kurokawa

In 1979, Kurokawa’s Capsule Inn fascinated the world as the first of its kind and its re-consideration of the individual sphere. The hotel continues to make reservations today, unchanged from when it first opened its doors: a cheap alternative for the salaryman who missed his last train home.

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Capsule Inn Osaka capsules © All About Japan

2. Book and Bed Tokyo

Location: Ikebukuro, Japan
Architects: Suppose Design Office

There is an almost quiet, clandestine atmosphere that one can find upon entering Book and Bed. Thoughtfully combining elements of a boutique hotel and a manga Kissa, every book lover will be sure to find their secret nook behind the bookshelves at this hotel.

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Book and Bed Tokyo,Archilovers. ©Toshiyuki Yano
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Book and Bed Tokyo,Archilovers. ©Toshiyuki Yano
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Book and Bed Tokyo, Archilovers. ©Toshiyuki Yano

3. Christopher’s Inn at the Village

Location: London Bridge, London

This energetic hostel was the first to offer capsule beds in the UK. The capsules themselves are clean and simple – although admittedly more like a colorful laundromat – likely to appeal to any backpacker in search of budget accommodation, boasting a great location and the ultimate social experience.

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St Christopher’s Inn at the Village capsule © The Telegraph
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St Christopher’s Inn at the Village capsule © The Telegraph
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St Christopher’s Inn at the Village capsule © The Telegraph

4. The Capsule Hotel

Location: Sydney, Australia
Architects: GiantDesign

The overall sleek design of the Hotel balances the robust, futuristic capsules within an Art Deco interior. The architects use mirrored surfaces, plants, and abundant lighting to ensure the spaces remain as open as possible.

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The Capsule Hotel capsules © Steven Woodburn
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The Capsule Hotel capsules © Steven Woodburn
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The Capsule Hotel capsules © Steven Woodburn

5. The Jane Hotel

Location: New York City, United States
Architect: William A. Boring

Restored in 2008, The Jane Hotel architecturally re-visualizes its origins as a lodging house for sailors. Through convincingly period architecture, no inch is spared in the ship-cabins, whilst the public spaces, such as the ballroom and mezzanine, delight with their retro-eclecticism and decadence.

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Jane Hotel ballroom mezzanine. © The Jane Hotel.
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Jane Hotel ballroom mezzanine. © The Jane Hotel.
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Jane Hotel ballroom mezzanine. © The Jane Hotel.

6. Pangea Pod Hotel

Location: Whistler, Canada
Architects: Bricault Design

Bricault engaged in all aspects of this project- from the architecture through to way-finding graphics- to meet the clients’ unique vision and program. As a result, colors, materials, and innovative spatial design maximize the hotel’s potential as an affordable place to stay in the heart of Whistler.

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Pangea Pod Hotel © Integra Architecture Inc.
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Pangea Pod Hotel © Integra Architecture Inc.
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Pangea Pod Hotel © Integra Architecture Inc.

7. Das Park Hotel | Capsule Hotels

Location: Linz, Austria
Architect: Andreas Strauss

Conceptualized as a series of repurposed cement, drain-pipes sitting in an open landscape, there is a strange beauty in the utilitarian simplicity of Das Park Hotel. With only a small make-shift skylight above, some may find comfort in the paintings of Thomas Latzel Ochoa, which somewhat humanize the confined interiors- no doubt too dark for many.

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Das Park Hotel © Landeszine
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Das Park Hotel © Landeszine
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Das Park Hotel © Landeszine

8. BLOC Hotel

Location: Gatwick Airport, London
Architects: BrightSpace Architects

For the starry-eyed wanderer, sleeping in a box in an airport hotel is certainly not the most romantic vision of travel. However, taking cues from the Japanese capsule hotels, these rooms are smart, functional, and convenient.

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BLOC Hotel exterior © Bright Space Architects
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BLOC Hotel exterior © Bright Space Architects
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BLOC Hotel exterior © Bright Space Architects

9. First Cabin Tsukiji

Location: Tokyo, Japan
Architects: Plantec Architects

This high-tech capsule hotel chain offers guests spatially-dependent cabins, with the choice between ‘business’, or ‘first-class’ for some extra room.

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First Cabin Tsukiji cabins © CNN travel
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First Cabin Tsukiji cabins © CNN travel
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First Cabin Tsukiji cabins © CNN travel

10. CityHub

Location: Amsterdam,
Architects: Mulderblauw Architects, interior design by Studio Überdutch

Designed for the digital nomad, CityHub embraces the defining interactive connectivity of Generation Y. Customizable lighting offers bursts of color against the sleek homogeneity of the white, futuristic hubs, whilst the public lounge spaces are more rustic and warm.

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CityHub capsule interior  © CityHub
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CityHub capsule interior  © CityHub
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CityHub capsule interior  © CityHub
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Author

Jessica Richardson is an architecture student from the University of Melbourne, with a passion for design histories. She believes that, now more than ever, critical thinking and meaningful discussion is crucial for architecture to be at the forefront of change.

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