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Japanese Love Hotels – Why and When did these hotels start

Are you wondering what Japan love hotels are for? Well, if you have a significant other, you should definitely try and find out the answer! Don’t worry, I’ll tell you what is it.

You’re wandering in the fancy and lit streets of Tokyo and you happen to find an eccentric building with a private entrance and a sign that say “stay” (宿泊, shukuhaku) and “rest” (休憩, kyukei). 

love hotels meaning
Source: Hotel-colore.jp

The name of these “stays” is written in an extremely quirky way with neon lights and have offbeat names like Hotel Casabianca. Take a and understand that these are not ordinary hotels in Japan.

Yes! You’re right, it’s different! You’re standing in front of Japan Love Hotel rabuho. It’s the not-so-hidden pay-by-the-hour (or night) accommodations for couples, secret lovers and other types of a one-time celebration of love for pleasure-seeking. Most couples come to love hotels in Japan for sexual activities.

Japan Love Hotels

Love Hotels: History and Background

What are Japan Love Hotels?

Love Hotels are no-tell motels or short-stay hotel that offers hourly charges or night rates in the name of love, whatever this means to the customers. A short stay could be anywhere from 2 hours to 4 hours or maybe a night or two. 

An overnight stay typically costs between ¥3,900 and ¥20,000 depending on the hotel, the dates and any meals or room service. While a standard 2-4 night stay usually costs between 2,900 and 7,000 yen per night.

The term “Love Hotel” comes from the Love Hotel that was first opened in Osaka in 1968. After that, there were a lot of Japanese love hotels that popped in different places of the country.

The term “love hotel” has its origins in the early ’60s with the opening of the first rabuho in Osaka. Soon, there were thousands of love hotels all over Japan and still retain their popularity today!

It was originally conceived to provide couples with a place where they could enjoy some private time together and apart from family members. During the post-war period, young people often lived in extended families in close quarters and without privacy. Hence, for one-on-one moments for couples, the love hotel concept was created.

love hotel Japan price
Source: Hotel-colore.jp

In the late 80s and early 90s, it was common practice that when young lovebirds had reached a certain level of maturity, they’d hit the hot spots known as love hotels to consummate their relationship! It was almost like a status symbol in those days, but at some point folks realized that there are better ways to spend time than renting out an entire room just for a little roll in the hay.

The Love Hotel business was boomed in this period. Because of the competition, it gave rise to themed love hotels in Japan which had themes like Jungle, Hollywood, Kitty etc. to cater to more guests. Many young people went there to celebrate birthdays and anniversaries.

Japan Love Hotels Today

In today’s time, Japan hotels are still a part of dating and sex industry. Not only that, but it has also become one of the biggest sources to draw tourists and sources of cheap accommodations too. 

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Japan has the highest rate of single people living alone; therefore, the love hotel industry caters to this. Over 10,000 love hotels operate in Japan but as more people are living by themselves, the need for them has decreased making it difficult for love hotels to make money .

According to research of 2016, there’s only 40% occupancy on the weekdays. Most of the “underperforming” love hotels were turned into normal accommodation facilities keeping in mind the Tokyo Olympics 2020.

As a result, many of the Japan love hotels have been turned to the normal friends-family type of hotel serving full room service meal menus. It is also offered to a group of people travelling for business purposes.

Source: Hotenavi.com/kanhi

Other love hotels have started stated offering packages such as birthday parties, beauty retreats, spa programs, bachelorette parties for a group of women. Some of them have even started aesthetic couples spa programs including hot springs and sauna.

Japan love hotels are also a comfortable stay if you’re a woman travelling alone. Capsule or business-hotels often are restricted to only men. It also often does not include enough amenities, storage or bathing facilities for long-distance travellers. 

I have visited 36 different prefectures in Japan and only stayed in Japan love hotels. It is so convenient because there’s no prior booking required, no curfew and also no check-in limitations. The only problem you’ll face is to find a room during a peak holiday season- its a struggle.

Facilities of Love Hotel In Japan

Before getting into details of what extra facilities the Japan love hotels offer, the rooms are definitely worth talking about. Most of the love hotels have rooms huge enough to make apartments in Tokyo feel like a closet. 

The average smallest room in Japan love hotels is 20 square meters. I used to live in a 2k apartment that was only 17 square meters. But most luxurious Japan love hotels can be 25-80 square meters in size. 

Most hotels have a jacuzzi, large LCDTVs with video-on-demand service and kitchen with stove and refrigerator. Also, they have minibar, microwave, tea pot and of course king size beds.

Source: hotel-zebra.net

The bath has hotel-like toiletry kit containing shampoo, body soap, face cleanser, bubble bath and also bath salts. Hairdryers, combs, razors and plenty of other things are also available. There will always be free condoms provided in a box near the bed. 

That’s not all- while it varies from hotel to hotel, the majority of them also provide rental services. So if you’ve forgotten your phone charger, or you want a nail clipper or maybe a massage gadget, you can get them all for rent. 

All these rental services items are listed on the menu kept on a coffee table or sometimes on the main menu on the TV screen. 

A receptionist once told me that Japan love hotels are like any other hotels with every facility provided. Customer service is the key. In a love hotel, it’s not a guarantee that the customers will come back or not, so making their stay perfect is important. 

There are some love hotel chains that have loyalty card systems- if you stay in a certain hotel for a certain number of times or maybe spend a certain amount of money, you’re liable to different kinds of gifts and vouchers. These gifts include their branded bags, wallet, certificate, tickets, fine dining experience etc.

As mentioned above, the cost for a few hours up to seven thousand yens while an all-night stay would be around 10,000 yens depending upon the hotel and the location. In centre Tokyo, weekends especially Friday nights, the prices are crazy. 

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While, in the less populated areas, the prices will be far less than a regular hotel. Another thing is that you pay for the room not on per person basis as in the regular hotels of Tokyo. 

When you enter Japan love hotels, you will find a screen with all the available rooms and details on it. You can then head to the counter to get keys to your room. Sometimes, the counters are hidden to avoid awkward eye contacts between the receptionists and the customers.

Love Hotels in Tokyo

You’ll always find popular love hotels in entertainment districts like Shibuya, Shinjuku’s Kabukicho, Ikebukuro, Uguisudani and Ueno across their expressway junctions and parking areas. 

However, it is always advisable to choose a safe and clean Japan love hotel whatever the purpose of the visit might be. The two best ways of finding the best Japan love hotels.

One is to look for an area that has the highest pubs, bars and restaurants because there should be many nearby and second, is by looking on a ranking site like Happy Hotel or Couples, or their associated apps, Couples Navi from the Couples website, and Happy Hotel.

Though most of these sites are in Japanese, you can swipe through the pictures and understand what kind of hotels they are and also about their services. The pictures are often original. 

According to Happy Hotels, most of the hotels in Tokyo are in Toshima-ku (Ikebukuro). Over 100 love hotels are listed alone on the site from Toshima-ku followed by Shinjo-ku and Taito-ku. It is so surprising that Shibuya is fourth while places like Chuo-ku and Setagaya-ku have a very limited option. 

Source: balian.jp

Based on 2017 ranking, the best Japan Love Hotel is undoubtedly going to Bali An group. It has multiple locations all across Japan and provides an incredible service regarding their facilities, in-room amenities, decor, food menus etc. 

Bali An group also have multiple Joshikai (girl’s night out) plans including birthday parties and Christmas get-togethers for woman safety reasons. 

Other amazing Love hotels in Tokyo include Hotel St. Moritz in Asakusa, Hotel Meguro Emperor in Meguro ward (one of the oldest Japan love hotel) in Tokyo and also, Hotel Sulata in Shibuya, which also has locations across Japan.

How much it cost to live in Love Hotel Japan

For shorter stays (2-3 days), average Japan love hotels costs start from JPY3000 onwards. The Japan love hotel prices for longer stays (overnight use) starts at JPY6000. Shorter stays depends on how many hours you book the Japan love hotel room for and the price will increase if you’d like to extend your stay.

Whereas, longer stays have a fixed price. Check in time at love hotels in Japan is pretty late at around 10pm or 11pm nd check out time is by 11 am. 

Who Is Allowed To Book Love Hotels in Japan?

Anybody can book love hotels in Japan as long as they are both adults and consenting. Most Japanese love hotels are pretty anonymous with almost no interaction with any staff the whole time.  

Do Love Hotels Have Smoking Rooms?

Today, you’ll find both smoking and non-smoking rooms at Japan love hotels. While some older Japan love hotels will have all non-smoking rooms, you’ll also find some love hotels in Japan that are all smoking hotels. The only issue with smoking love hotels rooms is that the smell in the room doesn’t usually go away which can put you off. However, some love hotels in Japan do manage to remove the smell completely. 

Amazing Love Hotels in Japan

ALL INN G

Hotel ALL IN G is a reasonable, affordable and a very stylish love hotel near Otsuka station. Because of its understated nature, it is often mistaken as a business hotel. The rooms are very comfortable and it comes with the right amount of amenities that a first-timer at love hotels needs. The Japan love hotel price for short stays is around  ¥2,000, and all nights are about ¥6,500.

Japan love hotels
Source: all-inn-g.com

Nearest station: Otsuka Station
Address: Tokyu, Toshima, Minami Otsuka 2-43-4

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Meguro Emperor

Meguro Emperor is one of the oldest love hotels in Japan and true to its kind. It was framed with wild room themes where beds revolved but now has a more luxurious look with open air-baths. This Japan love hotel costs ¥1,500 for short stays and up to ¥16,800 for all-nighters.

Source: meguroemperor.com

Nearest station: Meguro Station
Address: Tokyo, Meguro, Shimo Meguro 2-1-6

Hotel Mju

Hotel Mju offers a retro-chick vibe to their hotels. These hotels aren’t as spacious but extremely aesthetic. These rooms offer amazing views from their windows. Stay on the 6th floor if you love views.

This Japan hotel costs  ¥3,900 for short stays, while overnight charges vary from ¥6,800-¥9,800.

love hotel meaning
Source: asakusa-mju.net

Nearest Station: Asakusa Station
Address: Tokyo, Taito, Hanakawado 2-14-2

Love Hotels in Japan During the Pandemic

While every business went down during the pandemic, Love Hotels business in Japan grew leaps and bounds. It was seen that a lot of people preferred going to the love hotels to spend a quality time as it was spacious and hygienic.

People spent time in these love hotels during the time of O-bon celebration as well as the Christmas and New Year period. On most nights, the love hotels would be full and have no vacancies.

They implemented new safety measures that included temperature checking, QR code menus, screening in the reception desks and a lot more.

Japanese Love Hotels: FAQs

Are love hotels legal in Japan?

Love hotels are secretive and used with discretion in Japan as Japanese people are not open about sexual activities. In cultural terms, they’re regarded as “shame”.

How much is a love hotel in Japan?

There are many love hotels in Japan and most of them cost between 9000 and 13000 yen for a night. Yano Hotel is one of the most luxurious love hotels in Tokyo.

Are love hotels clean?

Love Hotels are much cleaner than your average hotel. The rooms are usually outfitted with brand new sheets and towels and they are cleaned regularly.


Have a Lovely Stay!

Whether you are on holidays, travelling on business purposes, for celebrating occasions like birthday parties or Christmas- Japan love hotels will be the accommodation that you’d want to choose, always!

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