Nine Hours Narita Airport

Prologue

9hNRT_Exterior1

In 1979, the world’s first capsule hotel opened in Osaka’s Umeda district promising cheap, overnight accommodation for Japan’s salarymen who had missed the last train home. Since then, the concept has spread throughout the country with new establishments and interpretations in major city centers. The first Nine Hours location opened in December 2009 in Kyoto, introducing a breath of fresh air to the industry with its sleek designs and stays centered around 1-hour of grooming, 7-hours of sleep and 1-hour of rest. Having arrived at Tokyo’s Narita International Airport after a late flight, we put the boutique capsule hotel to the test.

 

Location / Accessibility

9H_Location

The Nine Hours Narita Airport is located in the multistorey car park building of Terminal 2, a short walk from the arrivals hall and the underground railway station from where the Narita Express, Keisei Skyliner and local trains operate from. Our flight landed at Terminal 1 and we caught a free inter-terminal bus across, which deposited us at the arrivals kerbside. From here, we made our way up to the air-conditioned connecting linkway, following the overhead signage to the entrance clearly indicated by the sleek black wallpaper and large Nine Hours branding.

 

Arrival Experience

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Walking through the sliding glass doors, we enter the small reception area where we are greeted by the staff. The black and white colour scheme is broken up by flight information displays behind the reception desk, while on either side was a door (1 for the gentlemen and 1 for the ladies) leading to the gender-segregated areas, as is the norm in capsule hotels.

 

Having pre-booked our accommodation on the internet, the staff quickly verified our details against their records, took payment and handed us our locker key and amenity bag for the stay, taking care to explain which items were to be returned at check-out. All-in, the process was fuss-free and completed in under 10 minutes, perfect for the weary traveller the facility is designed for.

9hNRT_Amenities

Given to every guest at the capsule hotel, the amenity bag contained essential items (a bath towel, a face towel, a Nine Hours-branded sleep suit, a pair of slippers and a dental kit) a guest would need for their stay.

 

Pods / Showers

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Our first impression of the sleep pods was that of sheer futurism. The dark walls and floors, combined with the sleek lines and faint lighting emitting from the individual pods stacked 2-high would not be out-of-place in an interstellar spaceship.

9hNRT_Pod2   9hNRT_Pod3

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We found the pod to be more spacious than expected. Measuring 2 meters in length, 1 meter in width and height, we could sit upright within comfortably with room-to-spare. A roller blind at the entrance afforded adequate privacy, although light sleepers are advised to have earplugs handy as sound insulation is limited with the pods.

 

Each was clean and furnished with a thin futon, pillow and duvet, with a panel housing an electrical outlet and speakers from which the gentle sound of the waves were played to help occupants fall asleep. The panel also had controls for the lighting and alarm, which is programmed to gently rouse occupants by gradually intensifying the lights.

9hNRT_Bathroom1

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The common bathroom facilities were kept constantly clean and never crowded with enough toilet cubicles and wash basins for guests. Similar to full-service hotels, liquid soap and electric hairdryers were also provided for guest use by Nine Hours.

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Stepping into one of the individual shower rooms, we enjoyed a hot shower with refreshing bath products from Japanese brand Tamanohada and strong water pressure. This proved to be another positive in the Nine Hours value proposition and we found the facilities to be very well-designed with a raised shower stall keeping the floor dry and a separate shelf handy for placing clean clothes and belongings.

 

Dining

In-line with the limited service concept of capsule hotels, Nine Hours Narita Airport does not offer any food & beverage. A row of vending machines outside the hotel retail drinks, while guests have the option of dining at the airport’s many restaurants.

 

Facilities

9hNRT_Locker1   9hNRT_Locker2

Being an airport facility, the hotel does not feature guest lounges and recreation rooms found in other urban capsule hotels, a reflection of the thought process from the designers in only including features essential to the transit passenger. Guest facilities here are limited to a spacious locker room with 2 rows of cabinets along the walls. Each guest is assigned a large cabinet to store their luggage and personal belongings.

 

Service / Staff

Our interactions with staff members was limited to check-in and check-out, where they were always courteous, professional and displayed an excellent grasp of the english language, which we felt was important given how the airport location caters to both domestic and international travellers. At other times during our 1-night stay, we observed how the staff remained behind-the-scenes to give guests their privacy and personal space.

 

Verdict

Clean, convenient and affordable, we think the Nine Hours Narita Airport makes an excellent accommodation option for travellers arriving late or catching an early morning flight. The comfortable sleep pods and modern facilities put many larger, full-service (and more expensive) airport hotels to shame and is a concept we would like to see expanded to other airports around the world.

 

Nine Hours Narita Airport

Narita International Airport Terminal 2

1-1 Furugome, Narita-City

Chiba 282-0004

Japan

+81 4 7633 5109

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