Despite spending several years in Japan, I have yet to visit a love hotel. Of course I haven’t been to Kyoto, Nikko or most other areas of cultural interest either, which just goes to show you what a boring, miscreant I am. I do know people who have visited love hotels – for reasons ranging from love to sleep to karaoke parties (would you believe) – and the consensus has been generally positive, regardless of the purposes for which said hotel was used.

From what Igor’s heard about love hotels

One friend noted that the bathrooms are much better at love hotels than regular hotels and that the overnight rates for a love hotel when travelling Japan were less than a regular hotel.

Another friend was quick to point out that love hotels were good for resting as the rooms are properly sound-proofed. Having stayed at a luxury non-love hotel he found he could hear the people in the next room talking. In fact he could actually understand what they said. Since the love hotel is designed for total privacy, most rooms tend to be very heavily sound-proofed.

I remember reading one article last year saying that love hotels have been put to other uses such as computer game playing and karaoke sessions. You could think of it as a chill zone, even if the cupboards are full of plastic-wrapped unmentionables.

One travel site noted that if you do go to a love hotel, it is wise to go to avoid the overly cheap hotel as their staff may not change the linen after every session (ewww!). Anyway, on with the Wiki…

Love Hotel from Wikipedia.

A love hotel (rabu hoteru) is an originally Japanese type of hotel offering privacy and discretion for a couple wishing to engage in sex. Alternative names include romance hotel, fashion hotel and boutique hotel. While such facilities exist in many forms worldwide, Japan’s love hotels differ from the typical roadside motel in that a majority of the clientele are, in fact, married to each other and only seeking the privacy not available in their own small accommodations. However, love hotels are also used for prostitution and enjo kosai[Igor note: roughly translated as compensated dating].


In Japan, love hotels developed from tea rooms (chaya), which were mostly used by prostitutes and their clients but also as trysting places for lovers. After World War 2, the name tsurekomi yado (bring-your-own inn) was adopted, originally for simple lodgings run by families with a few rooms to spare. These establishments appeared first around Ueno, Tokyo (partly due to demand from Occupation forces) and boomed after 1958 when prostitution was abolished and the trade moved underground. The introduction of the automobile in the 1960s brought with it the motel and further spread the concept.

The name “love hotel” may originate from an establishment in Osaka called Hotel Love, which had a revolving advertisement on the roof. The sign was thus easy to misread as “love hotel”, which was adopted for the entire concept. In Japan, however, the original term has fallen into disuse thanks to the euphemism treadmill and an ever-changing palette of terms is used by hotel operators keen on representing themselves as more fashionable than the competition.


Love hotels typically offer rates for a rest of several hours (averaging 5,000 yen) or an overnight stay (averaging 10,000 yen). Love hotels are geared towards drop-in visitors, not travellers, which usually means that reservations are not possible, leaving the hotel will forfeit access to the room, and overnight stay rates only become available after 10 PM.

Entrances to love hotels are discreet and interaction with staff is minimized, with rooms often selected from a panel of buttons and the bill settled by pneumatic tube or a pair of hands behind a pane of frosted glass. While cheaper love hotels are utilitarian, higher-end hotels may feature fanciful rooms which are (for example) decorated with cartoon characters, equipped with vibrating beds or decked out like dungeons complete with S&M gear.

Love hotels are typically either concentrated in certain city districts (like Dogenzaka in Shibuya, Tokyo) or located near highways on the city’s outskirts for convenient access by car.

Parts of this article are licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article Love Hotel.

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