A Japanese rabuho, or love hotel, is a secluded hotel tucked away with a private entrance for couples looking for that extra bit of privacy. However, these days, the average Japanese love hotels are much more than that.
It’s a place for parents to escape for a few hours of peace and quiet. It’s a destination for travelers who are looking for an affordable or outlandish accommodation option. It’s an option for business travelers who seek something more flexible and less expensive.
Let’s explore a bit more about the Japanese love hotels.
History of Love Hotels
The first known ‘love hotel’ style accommodation came about during the Edo period in the 17th century when travelers along the road required somewhere private for their personal illicit reasons.
However, the first modern love hotel opened up in Osaka in 1968. Aptly named ‘Hotel Love’, it then became the universal term for a hotel designed to accommodate couples who want some alone time for a few hours.
During the 80s and 90s, the hotels grew so much in popularity that they almost became a standard date spot. With such fierce competition, the owners of the hotels had to dig deep and come up with ways they can differentiate themselves from the competition.
Thus, the themed rooms were born. From destination themes (such as tropical Bali), to animation themes (such as Little Mermaid), you’ll come across all sorts of themes when looking into love hotels. Whilst nowadays they’re observed as more of a novelty, some people might be into that, and that’s ok!
Why Is It So Popular?
In a country like Japan, where space is limited and the population is huge, privacy is a big issue. With more and more people living at home with parents, and not enough space in houses for alone time, people discreetly turn to love hotels for a few hours to let off some steam.
Japanese culture tends to shy away from being publicly open about their bedroom activities, and so love hotels are a necessary space for people to let go of their inhibitions like any other human being.
These days, love hotels are also an extremely popular option for tourists visiting the country. Those enamored with Japan are fascinated by everything, from food, culture, landmarks, innovations, and even novelties like love hotels. Visiting a themed room would be unlike anything they’ve ever experienced before. If Japan is your only chance at staying in one, well then, why not?
What to Expect When You Visit A Love Hotel
Firstly, you should know that your stay at a love hotel is usually completely private. From contactless check-in (via a screen), to covering up your license plate, everything is discreetly dealt with so that you feel completely protected.
A standard love hotel room will always look a bit extravagant. Most will try to decorate the room with sensual decor and lighting, with some rooms allowing you to adjust the latter to your liking.
You will usually be able to find all sorts of amenities for a few hours of fun in the bedside table, and there will also be vending machines located in or nearby the room for you just in case.
If you’ve booked a themed room, prepare yourself! Depending on what theme you go with, you could be looking at a full-on decked-out room, completely in line with what you’ve decided on. For example, if you’re into medical role-play, there is actually a love hotel that offers an entire room decked out as a hospital ward.
Depending on how long you want to visit for, you can usually pay for up to two hours of privacy, four hours of fun, or 12 hours for a decent overnight stay.
3 Unique Love Hotels in Japan
1. Hotel Winbell
Room 907 of Hotel Winbell is an aquatic-themed hotel room. Complete with a clamshell-shaped bed, moody lighting, Little Mermaid projections on the walls, and even tail-fin dresses, it sure is a site to behold!
Couples looking for some extra pizzazz with their privacy can opt for this room. It’s also a popular option for females looking at aesthetic hotel options.
3. HOTEL Us Keibajo
The aforementioned hospital-themed room is located at this popular love hotel. In addition to hospital beds to get you into the mood, they also provide curtains to separate the beds, an x-ray viewer mounted on the wall, and even stethoscopes!
4. Hotel Brugge
If you’re into classic romance, then Hotel Brugge’s European-inspired rooms might tickle your fancy. Designed to look fit for royalty, this high-class love hotel is a great match for those looking to heighten the romance for the next few hours.
If you’re looking for a somewhat outlandish hotel experience in Japan that won’t break the bank, we highly recommend a love hotel!