Capsule hotels are a uniquely Japanese accommodation that everyone visiting Japan should experience at some point. The problem with being female is we, unfortunately, don’t have as many options as most are for men only. Sapporo’s Spa Safro was my choice for my first Capsule Hotel experience and it didn’t disappoint.
As with all capsule hotels, males and females have different sections and immediately on entering the lobby the entrances go in different directions with women needing to go upstairs whilst men stay on the same floor. Once you get to the reception area you need to take your shoes off and stick them in a locker and then you hand the key over to reception so you can get checked in. The staff do not speak very much English but they try their best to point where everything is and give you a map in Japanese that shows the layout of the floors. They will also give you a bracelet which has your locker key and a barcode on it that you can use to purchase anything at the Spa with as they have a cashless system that you just pay upon checkout. Next stop is the lockers where you store your belongings including your clothes and where you can get changed into your pink nightgown/nightie which is the uniform of all the capsule hotel’s female guests. If you have bigger bags they also have luggage storage.
If you are familiar with Capsule Hotels then you will know that all the beds are in little individual capsules in a big room. The beauty of Spa Safro (at least on the women’s side) is that there are only around 20 capsules to a room so it wasn’t noisy at all the night I stayed there. Each individual capsule has it’s own TV, radio, alarm clock, light and power point so you have everything you need. It seems at this hotel you are encouraged to watch TV in the relaxation area on another floor as the capsules aren’t soundproof. The bed was surprisingly comfortable with a traditional Japanese buckwheat pillow and a light duvet which was all you needed as the capsules are quite warm. If you get cold there were extra blankets too. Unlike normal hotels you can actually stay in your capsule up until 3 pm the day of your checkout but if you stay multiple days then you need to be out of the capsule hotel area by 3 pm as well and pay day by day.
Spa Safro is not only a capsule hotel but also an onsen so anyone can come and enjoy the relaxation benefits of the baths 24 hours a day. This is one of the fancier onsen experiences I have had and the baths take up an entire floor of the hotel. For day visitors, they have lockers on the floor of the baths but for guests staying in the capsules you can just leave your nightgown in the cubby holes provided. Now that you are naked, you first need to wash in the little washing area which is also pretty fancy with individual cubicles and different brands of shampoo, conditioner, body wash and they also have razors and toothbrushes. After washing you can enjoy the many baths that include two outdoor baths (one of which was a blood red colour from whatever mineral is in it), a large indoor bath plus a jacuzzi, cold plunge pool, sauna, salt steam room and lie-in jacuzzi beds. You can also get a massage and beauty treatments for an extra charge. Once you’ve finished relaxing you can head to the Powder Room and pamper yourself with lotions, hair treatments and even facial treatment machines. Is there anything more relaxing to take the time out to soak in a hot bath then pamper yourself?
Spa Safro has plenty of other facilities on another floor including a restaurant serving Japanese and Western food and a room filled with relaxation chairs where you can watch some TV or read some Manga. There is even a nap room if you are feeling a bit sleepy. If you think you can sleep in a chair or a nap room you could also choose to pay the cheaper bath plus overnight fee especially if the capsule hotel is full. If you are traveling as a couple it can be a bit daunting as you will be in completely different areas of the hotel but you can still hang out in the lobby seating area or use the restaurant on the ground floor.
Spa Safro is conveniently located in Susukino, which is Sapporo’s entertainment district and, therefore, has lots of restaurant and bar options. It’s also only about a 5 min walk from the Susukino subway station or walking distance to many of Sapporo’s other sights like Odori Park, TV Tower and the Sapporo Clock Tower.
Spa Safro is one of the most enjoyable night’s accommodations I have had in Japan, although it was a little overwhelming at first. It combines two very uniquely Japanese experiences, the capsule hotel and the onsen into one very relaxing experience that is very budget friendly. For more information visit their website.