Japanese Internet cafe chain evolves into Internet hotel great for backpackers, budget travelers

22:35 cherishe 0 Comments

Private rooms with lockable doors, showers, mail delivery service, and online reservations in English.

One of the surprising things about the Japanese urban landscape is that even with the rapid speed with which smartphones have spread throughout society, you can still find tons of Internet cafes. One reason why is that net cafes in Japan provide a little more than just Internet service. They’re also stocked with massive selections of manga and magazines that patrons can read, for example.

But quite often Internet cafes customers in Japan aren’t there for the online access or the comics, but because a night in an Internet cafe is cheaper than a taxi ride home after the trains stop running (there’s usually a roughly five-hour dead space with no rail service in Japanese cities starting a little after midnight) or getting a room at a regular hotel. So with so many people already using Internet cafes like hotels, Manboo, one of Japan’s biggest Internet cafe operators, has decided to go one step further and create what’s essentially an Internet hotel.

Instead of the semi-private cubicles of other Internet cafes, Manboo’s new Net Room sub-brand offers completely private rooms, which you can lock with a key when you get up to grab more reading material or use the bathroom.

▼ Check-in area

A variety of room types are available, but at the very least you’ll have a PC with a monitor and a Blu-ray player, giving you access to the Internet and a wide selection of free-to-watch movies. There’s also free Wi-Fi, for those who’d prefer to do their online browsing using their own devices.

▼ This room has a loft, and offers as much space as many bachelor apartment bedrooms in Tokyo.

Manboo currently operates 17 Net Room locations in Tokyo, Kanagawa, and Saitama. Many of the Tokyo locations are found in sightseeing or entertainment hot spots such as Shinjuku and Asakusa.

While you can rent Net Room rooms for as little as an hour, the amenities are clearly tailored for longer-term guests. If you’re staying for more than a day, for example you’ll probably want to shower and groom at some point, so there’re showers and powder rooms on the premises.

And since Net Room allows continual stays of up to two weeks, some guests will need to do laundry, so there’re also washing machines and dryers available.

Speaking of your clothes, you won’t have to worry about them smelling from smoke, since Net Rooms guestrooms are all non-smoking. Smokers are instead asked to use a separate smoking lounge.

And while these services may make Net Room an ideal place to hide out and withdraw from society for a few days, for those who want to stay connected to the outside world, there are lockers to store you stuff in if you’re stepping out for a bit, and even mailboxes where you can receive parcels and letters during your stay.

Surprisingly, Net Room isn’t considerably more expensive than other, less opulent Internet cafes. Rate vary by exact location, but start as low as 100 yen (US$0.90) an hour. In Tokyo, one-day use (which lasts until 11 a.m. the following morning) costs between 2,100 and 2,400 yen (US$19-US$22), and weekly use runs between 12,600 and 14,000 yen, making Net Room an extremely attractive option for backpackers or other travelers who don’t need the standard hotel experience during their journey.

Best of all, unlike most other Internet cafes, Net Room allows you to make reservations ahead of time. The process can be handled here through the company’s website, with customer service available in English, Japanese, and Chinese.

Related: Net Room official website
Source: Jin
Top image: Net Room
Insert images: Net Room (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6)