Japanese Love Hotels: Should You Stay There as A Tourist?

Is it even safe and clean to stay in a love hotel in Japan?

By Kazuko Otsuka
Japanese Love Hotels: Should You Stay There as A Tourist?

What is a Love Hotel?

Source: Instagram/love.hotel_mania

When it comes to the world of the strange and bizarre, Japan is a pioneer. One example of this is their whole culture of love hotels. As a cheaper alternative to a night in a regular hotel, love hotels attract not only couples looking for some fun but also foreign tourists on a tight budget. 

For first-timers, the outward appearance of a love hotel might be too much. Merely walking by one down the street can already make some people feel uncomfortable as we all know what goes on in there. However, love hotels are not only booked for adult fun.  

Source: Instagram/favorite_hotel

Love hotels can be rented out per hour, a block of hours, or an overnight stay. These short-stay motels even come in different themes to cater to the many fantasies of people looking for a crazy night. If you’re into S&M, there are numerous love hotels in Japan that will suit your taste. Other quirky themed loved hotels even have a classroom and hospital themed rooms.  

It’s no question that staying at these boutique hotels, as others may call it, can make people look at you with questioning eyes. However, others book love hotels not just to satiate their lustful desires and let out some steam. These rooms are also rented out by solo travelers on a tight budget, troubled wives desperate for some RNR, and vloggers looking for some new content.  

How to Tell If You Are About to Book A Love Hotel?

It’s fairly easy to spot a love hotel. The big signs and flashy lights are dead giveaways that you have found yourself a love hotel. Usually, the fees per hour can be seen by the entrance. A “rest” for a couple of hours of fun during the day, and a “stay” which usually runs after 10 in the evening.  The average price for a 90-minute rest is around 2,500 yen or 23 USD while an overnight stay can average to 5,000 yen or 47 USD.

Once inside the love hotel, you will notice right away that the front desk is unlike your typical hotel where you are greeted by cheerful staff. Since many guests book these hotels for a night of hanky panky, love hotels aim for minimal human interaction with the staff. This way, you get a sense of privacy. 

Source: Instagram/hotelihotel

Guests typically pick out a room through a machine available at the counter. The process is fairly easy to navigate around with vacant rooms lit green and occupied rooms lit red. The whole process takes a couple of minutes, and after you have chosen your room a staff member will hand you the key behind the counter. Many times you are not able to see the face of the staff assisting you for privacy reasons. Pick an empty room, pay, retrieve the keys and you are good to go.  

Many love hotels also offer freebies such as lubrication. And, oh, did we mention that condoms are free? Well, they are. Upon entering your room, you are bound to find sex toys that are not offered in normal hotels. Adult videos can also be accessed through the television. Some love hotels even offer costumes for rent for those looking to fulfill their role-playing night of fun.  

Source: Instagram/nikugasuk1

Should I Stay in a Love Hotel as a Tourist?

Over the years, love hotels are beginning to gain popularity amongst tourists looking for cheap accommodation. However, saving a few yen is just one side of the picture.  Production of adult videos is quite big in Japan and that room you plan to sleep in might have been used to produce one. If this does not bother you one bit, then there’s nothing else stopping you from booking a love hotel. It’s a couple of thousand yen cheaper than a normal hotel plus you get to pick different themed rooms. You have nothing to lose other than your morals. 

Source: Instagram/hotel_fairygroup

Love hotels are all over Japan and it won’t be hard to find one to suit your taste. As a tourist in Japan, you can always just play the “when in Rome do as the Romans do” card when you start to feel guilty about staying in a love hotel. If you’re adventurous and want to try out the nightlife of Japan by staying at a love hotel, then go right ahead.  

One thing to keep in mind is that some of these hotels do not have English speaking staff. Since the general target of these hotels is not usually foreigners, many of the menus and equipment will be in Japanese. A good tip is to check online if the love hotel you plan to stay in has support in different languages.  These hotels can easily be found on Google by searching ラブホテル (Love Hotel).

Source: Instagram/hotel_milky_way

Where Should I Stay If I Want to Experience a Love Hotel?

As a first-timer in Japan looking to stay in a love hotel overnight, the job couldn’t be easier. Love hotels are situated mostly in entertainment areas such as Shibuya, Ikebukuro, Shinjuku, and Ueno. Expressways and alleys, as well as bars and clubs, are bound to have at least one love hotel in the area.

A good place to start is the notorious Love Hotel Hill situated in Shibuya. Commonly referred to as Dogenzaka (translated to The Hill Where the Road Begins) by locals, Love Hotel Hill offers a wide variety of hotels to choose from. Pick your poison. As a tourist visiting Japan, Shibuya might already be on your checklist as both the Shibuya Crossing and dog statue Hachiko can be found here. Might as well start your love hotel experience here and hit three birds with one stone.  

Another great spot to experience love hotels is in Shinjuku’s Kabukicho area. Maybe you’ve already come across Kabuchiko while searching for places to experience Japan’s crazy nightlife. Apart from having numerous clubs, karaoke bars, and host clubs, Kabukicho also has numerous love hotels to offer. It’s not surprising with the number of people getting drunk in that area looking for a one night stands.

Safety Tips for Love Hotels

Source: Instagram/_kevin.douglas_

When booking a love hotel, one sentence runs through the mind of everyone. “Is this room clean?” As these rooms are fairly cheaper than a normal hotel, you probably should lower your standard in-room cleanliness before booking one. Here are some safety tips you can do before booking a love hotel.  

Sanitize as much as you can! You can purchase a hand sanitizer at the convenience store or ask for some at the front desk and spray anything you plan on touching. If you’re really worried, you could even try asking for a change of bed sheets or towels. Also, check for any signs of bed bugs and be sure to inform the staff if you notice anything out of the ordinary. 

Another good safety tip is to check for hidden cameras. This should not only be done with love hotels but also with regular hotels. Given its nature, love hotels are more prone to fall victim to spy cameras as some people are desperate to capture sexual interactions. Check the tissue holder. Check the bathroom. Check behind the television. It won’t hurt anyone to do a safety check.  

Source: Instagram/ryuugo1

One thing you can also do when staying at a love hotel is to keep your valuables inside the safe if you plan to head out. Although Japan is known for its staggeringly low cases of theft, it's better to be safe than sorry. If the room you're staying at does not come with a safe, keep your valuable locked in your luggage when heading out. 

Lastly, it’s a good safety tip to check if the locks on your door are properly working. Test out the locks a couple of times to make sure everything is working properly. If you encounter any problems, make sure to tell the staff right away.  

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Source: Instagram/showa_loveho

With all of that said, it is advisable to stay at a love hotel as a tourist if you are on a tight budget, if you want to experience the nightlife of Japan, or if you are looking to have a one night stand with one of the locals. These hotels are generally safe and on par with motels, you could book under the same price range. Not only will you get to save a few yen that you can use to spend on another beer, but you’ll also be able to experience the not so popular side of Japanese culture.

At the end of the day, if convenience and frugality are important to you,  book that love hotel.