Luxury is a relative term

[…] Our bus sidled up to the B Roppongi Hotel, a modest nine-story affair closely resembling a Holiday Inn Express. We checked in with the cheerful front desk attendant and took the matchbox-sized elevator up to our room. The room was proportional to the elevator, with two twin beds, a TV, and coffee pot all strategically arranged in an area no bigger than a walk-in closet.

¨Well this is … cozy, but the location seems great,” I said optimistically.

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“Are you kidding?” exclaimed Jesse. “This is huge! It´s so much better than the capsule hotel I stayed in last time I was in Tokyo.”

Before our trip, we browsed hotels online and found the B Roppongi to be one of the only options even remotely close to our budget and with just enough space to sleep three, slender adults so long as we went easy on the carbs. At a nightly rate of $165, it was a steal in a city where one night in a five-star hotel can run you upwards of $1,600.

There were, of course, other “alternative” housing options that we´d looked into as well. Travelers looking to save money can budget $30-$60 per night to stay at a “capsule hotel” which normally features lounge areas, shared bathrooms, and private “rooms” that measure in at a butt cheek-clenching 18 ft2, just enough space to sleep one adult-sized human. They are called capsules because the ceiling “height” is about 4 ft, giving the “room” the feel of a futuristic coffin which you climb into with a ladder (a capsule hotel will have multiple capsules stacked one on top of the other). If you´re a fan of the show Seinfeld, this is what Kramer turns his large chest of drawers into for a group of visiting Japanese businessmen (“The Checks” – Season 8, Episode 7).

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Those looking to be even thriftier can always stay overnight at a cyber cafe, or “manga cafe” as they´re know locally. Private cubicles can be rented hourly, though most places will offer specials for overnight guests starting at $30 per 12 hours. While not actual hotel rooms, these cafes are open 24 hours, offer blankets, cushions, showers (sometimes), and presumably a lack of judgment towards anyone using a computer cubicle for an overnight stay or other “extracurricular” activities. Perhaps better to leave your black light at home.