Global Observer

Hong Kong to get its first capsule hotels

Hong Kong to get its first capsule hotels

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HONG KONG -- Big in Japan as a money saver, capsule hotels might soon make their way to Hong Kong.

Rows of capsule beds line a Hong Kong importer's showroom

HONG KONG — For over three decades, Japan has offered so-called capsule hotels to travelers and locals pinched for money. Hong Kong might soon be the only other place with the same coffin-like accommodations.

Galaxy Stars Ltd. plans to import the capsules and is looking to launch hotels in some of Hong Kong’s busiest districts.

“The target market is individual travelers. But we see there is a demand for inexpensive accommodations for university students as well,” said Connie Wong of Galaxy Stars. “So we are exploring capsule dormitories now as a secondary market.”

Typically stacked into two rows, the capsules are the length and width of no more than a single bed. At the company’s showroom, capsules measure around 70 in. by 35 in. and are equipped with electrical outlets, flat-panel televisions and cubbyholes for storage.

For the dormitories, the estimated monthly rent is $400, which would include wi-fi and utilities. Bathroom areas are communal.

Capsule hotels were first developed in Japan in 1979. They provided relatively inexpensive and convenient beds for office workers who miss the last train home. The pods later also gained popularity among the unemployed seeking cheap rentals.

But legal hurdles need to be smoothed out before backpackers will get to make their bookings. Media reports of Galaxy Stars' plans prompted the Hong Kong government to issue a statement that capsule hotels must comply with prevailing hotel and apartment ordinances, which include adequate space, lighting, ventilation, fire resistance and means of escape.

But Wong said capsule hotels should have their own set of rules, which do not yet exist in Hong Kong.

“Our capsules follow the standards of those already found in Japan,” she said.

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Vanessa Ko

Correspondent (Hong Kong)

Vanessa Ko has written for TIME, South China Morning Post and Phnom Penh Post. She holds degrees from Northwestern University and the University of Hong Kong. She is based in Hong Kong, China. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure