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Our experience in a Tokyo hostel – capsule, pod, bunk, privateonsen

To make sure you’re all caught up with my Japan blog entries, start here:

The journey continues

Upon arriving in Tokyo Station from Kyoto, we took the Oedo line and we all got out of Kuramae Station and that’s when our group parted ways. My family made a quick right to our street, and within two minutes, we were at our new home in Tokyo, Hostel Wahaku Kotobuki.

An opportunity to experience something new

This was a first for my family, a first experience in staying in a hostel – meaning, we share facilities with the other guests such as shower rooms, restrooms, public spaces. For our place to sleep, we were in capsules or pods or boxes. It’s not your typical hotel room that we’re very used to. So I made sure to give the kids a good description of what to expect before getting to the hostel.

Hostel Wahaku Kotobuki

There were other mixed rooms or dormitory (meaning men/women can sleep in one big room with different pods). There were also rooms strictly for women only. Fortunately, when I booked this property online via the Chase Travel Portal and indicated that there were six in our party. To my surprise, they had an available private room with six pods for six guests. This means that we had our own lock, our own privacy, and we didn’t have any strangers in our room, just us.

It was a very short walk from the Kuramae Station to the hostel. Upon entering the lobby, we noticed lots of shoes on the wall. It’s customary not to wear shoes inside. The hostel also provided slippers for the guests. There was a fridge, microwave, sink, stove, kitchen supplies – all were available for use by the guests. There was also a place to sit and eat.

Checking in was a breeze. While we were assisted by the front desk clerk, we had to check in using a machine. All the room keys were provided by the  machine. We had six pods, therefore, we got six keys. So far, so good.

The door that led to our room – sleeps 6 guests

We took the elevator to the 5th floor. We walked to our room. It was quiet. We shared the same entrance as the other room (which also had a different lock). We were thrilled with our room. It wasn’t the biggest. Upon entering, it was just an L-shaped room. Six pods (six twin-sized bunk beds with six clean comforters, pillows, and towels). We were home. There was no TV, no sofa, no private bathroom, just a little walkway for us and our luggage, and the six pods. The nearest restroom was right outside of our room. The nearest shower room was on the 3rd floor and more showers were on the basement.

By the time we checked in at the hostel, we had already been on vacation in Japan for over a week, and had come to realize that our hotel stays and AirBNB bookings were just a place to sleep, shower, surf the Internet, and decompress. We were never there during the day. We were always out and about.

Just happy to be together in one room

This was the reason why I didn’t mind staying in a hostel. I read many of the reviews and they were quite favorable. Plus, I wanted to experience it for ourselves, so we can either say, “never again” or “will gladly do it again” – that was the plan.

What’s in every cube?

There was one pillow, one comforter, fresh bath towels, and face towels. There were also two hangers, and a little compartment with a lock. There’s a slot switch for the lamp, and a place for you to plug in and charge your gadgets.

Pillows, comforter, towels – CLEAN
Iron and little board provided by the hostel

Another big plus was the private onsen. If there was one thing I wanted to experience in Japan was to stay in a ryokan or visit an onsen (hot spring). Think of an AirBNB, but staying in a ryokan could also include the hosts cooking for you and serving you meals. We didn’t get a chance to do that this visit but would really like that experience the next time we go to Japan.

So with our hostel stay, the property also had a private onsen on the 5th floor (just a few steps away from our room). You book it for an hour for 500 yen per person (min of 2 people per booking). We had the whole place to ourselves. It’s not a jacuzzi, there were no bubbles. It was just a hot tub. The aroma in the onsen was so soothing. It’s what we needed after all the many days we’ve walked all over Japan. I was so glad we had this option in our hostel, another big plus in my books.

The other amenities that were located in the basement included shower rooms, locker rooms, washing machine/dryer, and vending machine. Nancy was still able to wash our clothes during our very last night. She loves traveling back home with no dirty clothes.

How were the shower rooms?

First of all, you can scratch this vision from your mind – no group showers. There were private shower rooms with locks, so you’re not exposing yourself to other guests. There’s a shower in the private onsen, shower room on the 3rd floor and basement.


What’s nearby

We were able to walk to many restaurants near the hotel. Lots of stores. Asakusa was just a 12-minute walk away. There were many places to keep your eyes busy when staying in this area. And again, best part? It’s a short distance to the nearest train station.

How did we stay here for FREE

For this property, average cost for a room for 6 guests is around $240 per night. Since we were there for three nights, it would’ve cost us $720 for three nights. But with our points, we didn’t pay a single dime.

You guessed it. Points with our Chase credit cards (click here). A perfect starter card to earn points for travel is Chase Sapphire Preferred (click here).

Booking a place to stay for a party of six gets a bit tricky in Japan. They usually allow no more than 3 per room, meaning we would have to get 2 separate rooms, thus increasing our cost. While I had other hotel points to use, I wanted to try staying in a pod/capsule.

Too thrilled to have his own cube

I looked up the cost using points with my Chase Sapphire Reserve. The cash cost when booked with Chase was discounted down to $571 or 38,084 Chase Ultimate Rewards vs. paying $720. We paid nothing else out of pocket. The taxes were included.

Credit cards such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred (click here) or Chase Sapphire Reserve could help travelers earn points and being traveling for nearly free.

Chase Sapphire Preferred is the perfect starter card (click on the image)
My receipt from Chase

Final thoughts

To be perfectly honest, it could not have been any more ideal for our situation. As mentioned above, we were never in our hotel for most part of the day. We were out and about and explored the city. I took a big leap of faith when I booked this hostel. Why such a leap of faith? Knowing that it was our last three nights, I didn’t really want us staying in a place that we would hate. I didn’t want that to be our lasting memory. But everything fell in place. Hostel Wahaku Kotobuki exceeded our expectations. This means that we will not rule out staying in hostels in the future.


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