You might be thinking? “How did you end up sleeping in a capsule hotel for one night?” I know. Crazy! It was really simple actually. My daughter and I were traveling on EVA Air (aka the Hello Kitty airline), which is a Taiwan based airline, and we had a 21 hour layover in Taipei on our way to Bali, Indonesia. We wanted to figure out an easy and cheap way to get a little rest, instead of waiting it out in the airport! That would have been horrible, especially having a 15 hour flight to JFK-New York City, once we got to leave Taipei. Ugh!
I started to look for a discounted hotel around the airport by using my usual goto sites, like www.kayak.com, www.booking.com and www.agoda.com. While browsing, I came upon this hotel called, Hey Bear Capsule Hotel. It first caught my eye because of it’s funny child-like name and theme of Teddy bears and other animated animals. What is it about Taiwan, that everything is cartoony; Hello Kitty airlines, Teddy bear hotels? Its so funny! Then, the term “capsule” was something I didn’t quite understand. So, because of my curiosity, I clicked on it.
I started perusing the hotel information and reviews. It appeared to be a hostel type hotel, but the unusual part was it had individual sleep capsules for each guest to sleep in. The reviews were “excellent”, scoring a 9.0 out of 10 and the pictures made me scream with laughter!
As I laid on my hotel bed of our last night in Bali, searching on my iPhone for a perfect place to stay the next evening, I yelled to my daughter, “I think I found where we are staying tomorrow night in Taipei?” She said, “Okay, where? Is it near the night market?” As I answered, I couldn’t help, but giggle the whole time. ” What do you think about staying in a capsule hotel? We each will get our very own pod or coffin, ha ha ha, and, we not only will have a totally unique hotel stay, but its right near a night market! Do you want me to book it??” My daughter squealed, “YES!!! This is going to be so cool!” So, for $26.00/ per capsule, I booked it!
The next day we took our 5 hour flight from Bali, Indonesia to Taipei, Taiwan. As we prepared for landing, it suddenly occurred to me that we are sleeping in a capsule hotel! This thought made me feel excited and giddy, but also a little nervous. Not that I was scared to stay at the hotel, but I wondered if I would feel claustrophobic or not like it? In any case, we were only staying one night. I mean, it couldn’t be that bad? It’s a hell of a lot better than sleeping on an airport floor. Been there. Done that. The worst!
Now, I really knew nothing about Taipei. It was never on my list for a place to visit. On a quick overview of the city, I realized that of everything this city has to offer and with our short amount of time we had there, we had to at least;
- Go to a night market.
- Eat dumplings.
If I did those two things on our quick little layover, I would feel accomplished on my visit.
We got through customs in no time and stepped outside into the taxi line. We noticed that we were not only, the only non-Taiwanese for miles around, but we were also the only English-speaking people around. This could pose for some struggles. Most places I have traveled, someone around me could speak English (the privilege we have as Americans only knowing the Universal language-cringe), especially people in the hospitality business such as taxi drivers, hotel workers and restaurant workers. Not in Taipei! This was going to be so much harder than I thought. I tried to say the name of the hotel to the taxi stand worker, “Hey Bear Capsule Hotel”. Then again slower, (this time just) “Hey Bear”, but for some reason my Boston accent came out full fledge. It does that every once in a while, even though I try my best to control it. (lol) My daughter caught it and she smiled, as to call me out. She always does that to me and teases me about it. Brat! I sounded ridiculous and knew I was wasting everyone’s time. He has no clue of what I was saying. I looked around me, searching for a sign that someone knew what I was saying and could translate it for me. Nope! Not a soul.
Thankfully, for some reason, (something I’ve never noticed before) www.agoda.com, whom I booked the hotel through, had a pop-up message that said, ‘”show this to a local language speaker to ask for directions”. It was a picture with Taiwanese writing. I couldn’t read it of course, but I assumed it was the name and address of the Hey Bear Capsule Hotel. I screen shotted it, just in case.
At last resort, I remembered that I took that screen shot and pulled out my phone and showed the taxi stand man. He glanced at it quickly and boom, hailed over a taxi, told him where to take us and we were off! Just like that. So, another great tip I learned and wanted to share; for anyone staying in a foreign country that can’t speak the language or even say “hello” in their native tongue-Get your hotel information translated into that country’s language. I don’t know what we would have done? Thank you www.agoda.com. It was a total life-saver!
We arrived at Hey Bear Capsule Hotel. It was in a regular building with other businesses. It had eight floors, with the hotel being on the top floor. The elevator doors opened and there was statues of teddy bears and other cute animals at the entrance. We laughed. We continued into a common area room with tables, computers, a coffee machine, a hot water machine (for ramen/tea naturally), video games, and a front desk. We went up to the front desk and was greeted by a young man. He couldn’t speak English at all. I showed him my passport and he filled out some papers, handed me two key cards and smiled. I smiled back and showed myself to the door that had a pink teddy bear on it. It was a male or female dormitory hostel. I presumed I was headed in the right direction. I also saw two young girls walking in that door, using their key card to access it while I was checking in.
I took my key card and pressed it near the sensor. It opened. We entered into a locker room, with lockers and a bench, and a door to our right, leading to a bathroom, and a row of doors to our left, with numbers labeled on each. I looked at my key card and saw that I was 805-1, my daughter’s was 805-2. I looked at the doors and found 805. It was the first door. I used my key card for access and it opened. The room was small with 4 pods on the left and 4 pods on the right. It looked like a space ship or some sort of coffins of the future. This was going to so hilarious!
We each found our pod. Mine was on the top (sort of set up like bunk beds) and my daughter’s was in the one directly beneath me. We met a girl named Ivy, who had just arrived too. She had never stayed in a capsule hotel either. We all used our own key cards to access our pods and all of us were chatting and cracking up as we explored our little sleep cubicles.
When you enter, you couldn’t help but notice the blue neon light that felt almost soothing. They also had baby music pumped throughout the place that sounded sort of like a lullaby. I think its to calm you and make you feel sleepy? It’s a little creepy in a way. I guess it was all part of the ambience?
Each pod had a basket with slippers, a bottled water, remote control (for the TV), headphones and a small towel. The bed was soft and all the linens where white. There was one pillow and underneath the pillow was a white comforter. The pod was equipped with a TV, lighted mirror, outlets for plugs and USB ports, a port for headphones and buttons for different lighting choices (back light, reading light, mirror light etc). Also, there was a button that was to lock your pod.
For some reason, seeing the lock button, made my stomach feel a little uneasy. All I thought about was, “What happens if I lock it and it didn’t open and I was stuck inside!?” I needed to not think like that. It was going to freak me out.
I first took some video footage and pictures so that I could share this unique hotel experience with my friends, family, and my readers, but then thought it would be a good idea to see how it was going to feel, really sleeping in this thing.
I laid down and pulled the blanket over me. I put the light on back light because that seemed the most like a night-light. I put the TV on and put the headphones on. Lastly, I hesitantly closed the capsule door until I heard a click. I checked it. Yep, it was definitely locked. My heart started beating a little faster. Let me just press the button to be sure it opens. I pressed it. The door made a click noise. I reached over to slide the door and it wouldn’t open! I tried again. Still nothing. I started to panic a little, but then after my third attempt, it opened. Yikes! That was a little nerve-wracking, but it was all good. “I think I’m just being a little paranoid?”, I say to myself.
The bed felt very comfy and since I was so tired anyway, I didn’t think I would have any trouble sleeping in this capsule at all (as long as I didn’t think about the door locking too much). The size felt bigger than you’d think and mostly anyone under six feet tall would fit perfectly fine inside with plenty of room to move around.
Besides our individual pods, we also had access to a common area that had tables and seats and computers, a bathroom that was equipped with showers, dressing rooms, mirrored vanities and restroom (Eastern-style and Western-style options-thank goodness!). Each capsule also had an assigned locker to keep your belongings in. The pod would be way too squishy if you had to store all your luggage in it with you.
The one thing that stood out by far was the cleanliness of this hotel. It was absolutely meticulous and there was always someone cleaning the whole time we were there. It was not only clean, but was very modern as well. Like I said earlier, you feel like you are in a space ship! Its ultra-new age! The hotel itself, just opened in 2016.
Additionally, the staff members at Hey Bear Capsule Hotel were very friendly, even if we mainly only communicated by hand gestures and smiles. The owner was a sweet women, who spoke English, and was very excited for us to recommend Hey Bear Capsule Hotel to our friends and family and she asked if we would come back. We told her we loved it, thought it was so fun, complimented the cleanliness, and even bought T-shirts of the hotel, as a keepsake. Our flight wasn’t until much later than check out, and she was kind enough to let us store our bags there until we left for the airport.
Overall, sleeping in a capsule hotel for one night was a unique and fun experience that I will never forget. I’m not sure if I would recommend it for all travelers, especially for an extended period of time, for people with confinement issues (claustrophobia), for an older traveler, for someone traveling with small children, or if you are trying to have a romantic night’s stay (aka honeymoon) It’s one person per capsule. However, if you are a free-spirit, young and able, love adventure, trying new things and not afraid of small spaces; this is surely something you will want to try at least once in your life! I never thought I would ever find myself sleeping in a capsule hotel for one night, but my experience was out-of-this-world!
Do you think you could ever sleep in a capsule hotel?
On a side note: Taipei, Taiwan was a fun city to visit with super friendly locals and would be a foodie’s delight. We felt extremely safe and would recommend it for a female solo traveler. We did go to a night market and ate dumplings. Two thumbs up for both! Now that I spent, almost a day there, I wish we could have stayed longer. I hope to be able to go back some day.