A Look into the Future of Love Hotels
By Andrew Smith on 26 Dec 2016
Last month (November 2016) was Tokyo’s annual Leisure Hotel Fair at Tokyo Big Sight in Odaiba where companies showcased new products, technology, and designs to be used in hotels in the future. It was an interesting look behind the curtain of an industry that is so widely misunderstood. Historically, the concept of love hotels is said to have started as far back as the Edo period. Now there are apparently over 37,000 “love hotels”, as they are also known as, around Japan. The name and idea may be well-known worldwide, but like love itself, these romantic entertainment spaces are an enigma until you’ve experienced it.
Fortunately companies like ALMEX are making it much easier for travellers to enjoy Japanese leisure hotels. Modern establishments will now be outfitted with large, easy-to-use touch panels in the lobby for guests to view and select available rooms. The intuitive system, called R-Design, offers different languages options including English, Chinese, and Korean. Soon you won’t have to worry about miscommunication. Since most of the process is automated for privacy from check-in to check-out, all you have to do is select your language and begin your search for the perfect room. The sleek interface is designed to look like a welcoming guestbook. As you swipe through the pages, gorgeous photos of the room and its many features are displayed. Soon the same system will be available in a familiar tablet form.
Though the process of checking in continues to become more and more convenient, foreign visitors still hesitate to choose leisure hotels as an accommodation for the night. Because of its unique role, the industry has unfairly been shrouded in secrecy which leads to a lot being lost in translation. At its core, leisure hotels represent a private space for quality entertainment and relaxation and they have taken great strides to enrich customer experience in this area. Most of the entertainment features are easily accessible through the menu on the room’s TV. At the fair, I was able to get an in-depth feel of the system on their massive displays. The astonishing number of options available makes the main menu seem intimidating for first-timers, but they are always trying to improve the software to make it as smooth as possible. Soon ALMEX will have tablets with a multilingual menu that will control features like karaoke and other forms of amusement. It’s a great step towards unifying the customer experience and bringing the industry into the future.
Obviously many patrons use love hotels for romantic purposes, but others use them as a place to let loose and have fun — a rare luxury especially in a busy city like Tokyo where tight living spaces don’t allow much room for an exciting evening. If you’re travelling around Japan, chances are you will spend most of the day quietly touring temples, shrines, and other sacred historical sites. Though they are an unfortunate target of “weird Japan” blogs, a leisure hotel is a great place to unwind and have a great time. It certainly is a unique experience not many other travellers can check off their list of things to try in Japan. Coming soon, eager tourists will be able to book a room online through LoveinnJapan website just like you would for any other hotel. On-site, live translation services are also standing by to help ensure check-in is as easy as possible. As it becomes more popular, great deals are sure to appear on popular travel websites such as Rakuten Travel, and thanks to Japan’s 4 beautiful seasons, it is always a great time to visit.
Admittedly, before I started visiting and writing about the topic, I already had my ideas about what the infamous Japanese “love hotel” is about. Now that I have a deeper understanding, I can’t stop recommending the various unique accommodations to my friends who visit, especially as leisure hotels are now reaching out to foreign travellers. It was fascinating seeing all the different companies that work hard to constantly keep the industry moving forward. Walking through the fair and checking out the potential new features like upcoming VR entertainment, high-end massage chairs, and various other innovations, I became really excited about the future of leisure hotels.
Andrew is an American writer living in Tokyo, Japan. He often finds himself wandering home from a livehouse after missing the last train. As an outdoors enthusiast, musician, traveler and editor, he stays pretty busy, but he is still always looking for new things to try. The only thing more unorganised than his schedule is his room.