3. Love Hotels

Love Hotels are well, hotels for love and are one of the unique features of Japan that everyone should try out. They are very clean, very comfortable, and are generally no more expensive than a regular hotel (and probably even cheaper). Love hotels sprung up in Japan primarily due to the fact that most children live with their parents through college until they get their first jobs and move out. Due to the lack of privacy afforded for younger people, love hotels became a rather popular method of getting away for private time for a few hours or a night. Even though they sound rather sketchy, they are almost always very clean and even luxurious by most standards. However, I will address everything you’ll need to know about love hotels below in different sections.

How to Find:

Love hotels tend to be clumped together in what I call love hotel districts.  Most cities have one of these, but not all love hotels are necessarily located together in this manner and larger cities will have multiple love hotel areas.  Hirakata’s district lies north east of Kansai Gaidai and also south of the station.  Osaka has a large cluster close to the Namba station.  You can also use Google maps and search for ラブホテル for rather reliable results.  There also exists Japanese search engines for finding and rating different hotels.  Once you find a hotel and its name, you can usually do a google search for it in order to find its website, which will give you all the information you will need to decide if you want to go there.  Generally, they have pictures of the rooms, the pricing structure, and other amenities.

How to Enter and choose a room/plan:

Each hotel differs slightly in how you should select a room; however, almost all hotels will usually  have a large board of all the rooms and highlights showing which are available for use.  From there you usually either take the key card from the board or go up to the front desk and ask for the room in which you wish to stay.

Love hotels have a unique method for determing how long you can stay in the room and there’s usually no way to reserve a room, unless you are either a member of the hotel or call ahead and request it (which doesn’t always work).  Basically, when you check out a room, you are buying a “plan”, which entitles you to the room for a certain period of time.  These plans change depending on the time of day and if it’s the weekend or not.  Each love hotel has different plans (though they all follow the same general pattern), so make sure to check out the hotel you want to go before you go, or you might not be going at the right time for the plan you want.

The best way to explain this would be to use an example.  A really nice, and fairly cheap hotel in Hirakata is ホテルミロワール .  They provide a food menu, which depending on your stay plan will include a number of complimentary options.  This is not usual for a love hotel, especially one at this price range, and it’s one of the reasons I really liked this hotel.  Ok, so lets go to the site and look at “Plans”.


We can see that the hotel divides its plans into four categories: プチタイム、ハッピータイム、サービスタイム、and 宿泊(しゅくはく).  As you can see, the first three are set periods of time: 90 mins, 3 hours, and 5 hours.  The final category 宿泊 is for overnight stay.  For this hotel, the first three options can be started at any time of the day, but the overnight stay option cannot be started until 8 PM on Sun-Fri and not until 9 PM on Saturdays and the day before a holiday.  This scheme is very common among love hotels, and generally speaking the overnight stay is the best deal for your money and time.  The graph is quite straightforward.  You have to be out of your room by noon the next day (11 AM on stays that start on Saturday night).  The second row on the graph represents the “late stay” option, or the second overnight stay option.  This starts at midnight but you can stay later into the next day.  This hotel in particular has rather lengthy times for the overnight stay category.  Do not expect all hotels, especially in Tokyo, to have such nice times for this price.

As always, do LOTS of research about lots of hotels.

How to Pay:

More than likely, if there isn’t a front desk (due to the privacy that these locations are supposed to give), then you will probably receive a call to your room shortly after arriving that will inquire about how long you plan to stay and may even require that you pay up front.  Be prepared to speak Japanese and understand keigo.  You will be very lucky indeed if any of the staff speak English.  If you ask the staff to speak simply, they will understand that you are a foreigner and drop the keigo (which helps a lot XD).

All love hotels have a way for staff to deliver items to the room in a discrete manner.  This could be a simple little door flap built into the front door so that no face to face interaction is required.  Using this system, the staff can deliver food, drinks, and other items that are available for purchase or rent (such as cosplay outfits or novelties).  Depending on the hotel, you may even pay for your room in this manner.


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