The prominence of love hotels in the Japanese cityscape is an aspect that seems a tad bizarre to us westerners, who are more used to sex being swept under the rug (at least, those of us not from Amsterdam). So this led me to ask the question: what are these places all about? I thought I’d better find out first hand, so I enlisted the help of my Japanese girlfriend and all of her infinite, zen-like love hotel wisdom.
After buying a cheap bottle of wine and wandering the streets for a while, we arrived at Hotel Puppy, a quaint establishment a block back from Namba’s main drag and a worthy winner for investigative journalism in my eyes, if it was willing to mix sex and dogs. “Oh dear, what am I getting myself into?”
I thought, almost as amused as I was unsettled by the array of alarmingly lifelike canine statues that stared at me accusingly as we climbed the steps and entered the foyer. The place was empty, not a human being in sight, and it was made all the more eerie by the music… yep, you guessed it: ‘Who Let The Dogs Out?’ by The Baha Men. Believe me, I was asking the same question.
The first thing to do in any love hotel is to select a room, and in this case it had been made so overwhelmingly simple that I suspect one of the pot puppies could have managed it. On the wall hung a touchscreen computer with a list of the available rooms and their price for a 90-minute “rest” as well as for a full night’s stay.
Within two touches we had selected room 203, taken the receipt and were off up the neon staircase towards our single-serving love nest, myself giggling like a mischievous schoolboy and listening out for the muffled sounds of squeaking mattresses as my girlfriend hissed and dealt me stern elbows to the ribcage.
Now for the moment of truth. I held my breath as we pushed the door open and after becoming accustomed to the faint stench of stale cigarette smoke I can honestly say I was pleasantly surprised. The first thing that hit me, aside from the distinct lack of dog, was the bed. It was huge, fresh and when put through my stringent bounce test proved completely squeakless. I rubbed my hands contently as I perched on its corner, perusing the rest of the room and admiring the well-maintained, alla- mode décor that was only tarnished by a food menu taped to the wall offering everything from ice cream to udon for relatively reasonable prices. We didn’t bother with the food, opting stingily to bring in combini-bought chicken and onigiri as well as our liquor; which is fine in love hotels as it would be in any other accommodation. However, should one want to order food, the process is simple and discreet: order using the room’s phone, ensure the room door is unlocked but then close the second door that leads to your main room. The catering staff will alert you with a gentle knock when your food is waiting in your hall behind the front door.
Food aside, this place was spotless and fully equipped for passion. In addition to a gigantic, wall-mounted plasma screen that was hooked up to a Playstation 2 and offered a selection of porn to suit every palette, the room housed a jacuzzi bath with space for two and two vending machines: one for drinks and the other showcasing toys such as vibrating massagers for those hard to reach places, handcuffs and a delightfully thematic doggy collar to name but a few. Completing the room were two condoms lovingly placed above the bed next to the tissues and a water dispenser in case one wanted to wet one’s…er…whistle.
A far cry from the sleazy roach hole I considered a possibility, the love hotel offers a comfortable solution for couples seeking privacy in a country where it is all too often a rare commodity. What’s more, they’re a great place for us foreigners to visit when we fancy sexy time in more lavish surroundings than on our tatami mats at home where our neighbours can hear every giggle and groan. For the ¥9,240 that we paid into the machine in the room as we left the following morning, I’ll be coming here again.
A Selection Of Kansai’s More Out-there Love Hotels
Ikutama 9-6, Tennoji-Ku, Osaka. • Tel: 06-4305-2266 • Url: www.hotel-atlantis.jp • Seven floors, six world regions and space!
Hotel Chapel Christmas Mizuho-Cho 2891-221, Moriyama-Shi, Shiga. • Tel: 07-7585-1131 • The season of giving continues all year round here for those who like to knock boots, or err…stockings. This chain can be found throughout Kansai; however, this is the only branch where you can charge your iPhone 5 as well as your libido.
Dotonbori 2-4-11, Chuo-Ku, Osaka. • Tel: 06-6212-4615 • Url: http://pamp-net.com • The jewel in the corona is the S&M dungeon with that infamous circular cage bed for the Kinki-est of couples.
Ola Ola Hotel
Narazaka 2793-1, Nara. • Tel: 07-4225-2711 • Url: www.olaola.jp • A love hotel with a traditional Japanese garden you say?
Miyakenaka 7-9-13, Matsubara-Shi, Osaka. • Tel: 07-2336-5001 • Url: www.big-group-kj.net/loire/ • South Osaka’s dirty little secret is actually quite well-known for its weird and wonderfullythemed bowers of bliss. Jungles? Spaceships? Look no further.
Love Hotel Or Business Hotel… Which Is Right For You?
Similarly priced and similarly convenient, this can be a tough decision; however, it really all depends on what you want out of your stay. As far as amenities and service go, the love hotel wins hands down. In fact, apart from rare instances where they charge by the person and not by the room (in which case the lone traveller can get a great deal), there really are no superficial advantages to the business hotel and its provision of basic, no-frills accommodation. What it comes down to are these two simple questions: is the purpose of your stay predominantly sexual? Are you willing and able to sleep in a bed that you know to have been the stage for a litany of unspeakably-sordid sexual acts? If you answered “yes” to both then the love hotel is right for you, otherwise go business.