It’s the thing that has been creating buzz all over the world, seen in newspaper articles, news headlines, and internet searches. The Japanese have recently opened a new hotel in Sasebo, Japan!
Wait… what’s so special about another hotel?? There are hotels all over the world. Well, this one in particular happens to be the world’s first hotel that is staffed with robots!! And to make things even more awesome, it’s located about 20 minutes from where we live!
Welcome to the Henn-na Hotel!!
This 72 room hotel is located right outside the grounds of Nagasaki’s Dutch theme park, Huis ten Bosch. Translated as “strange/weird hotel,” Henn-na’s room rates begin around $70-$130 (depending on yen rate, date, room type, with or without breakfast, etc.).
From the moment you lay eyes on the hotel, it looks like any other ordinary city building. A simple, one-storey square building. It doesn’t have multiple floors or any flashy neon sign out front. In fact, the building reminds me a little bit of a dentist office or something of that sort.
The only thing setting the hotel apart from any other regular building, is the gigantic, transformer-looking robot that stands tall right outside the building entrance.
Inside is where you realize that there are amazing technological creations hidden everywhere. Immediately upon entering, you are greeted by a life-size, plush, mascot-resembling robot, swaying side to side as it welcomes you to Henn-na.
Straight behind the “greeter,” you will discover a storage room. Except this room is behind glass and your articles are stored and retrieved by a robot! Otherwise known as the “Robot Cloak Room,” it is here you can put your belongings into a box that is kept in the wall. By using a computer kiosk, you pay a small fee and give instructions to the robot to store your box or to retrieve your belongings.
As you turn to continue walking into the hotel lobby, it still looks like a regular building; very simple, containing a ramp, break room or cafeteria type area, lots of floor space, and large glass windows overlooking Huis ten Bosch. However, as you turn to the left, there is the reception desk to check in. The reception desk looks like a bank counter, each check-in area separated with a divider. Except that’s not anything strange…
It’s the eerily life-like woman receptionist and the fuzzy dinosaur behind the desk that make you look twice. Yes, I said dinosaur! This animatronic dinosaur checks in the English speaking guests (as well as Japanese). He can nod his head up and down, open and close his mouth, gesture his arms, and blink. The woman is able to blink, make eye contact, look from side to side, and appear even as though she is breathing!
When ready, walk up to whichever robot you would like to be checked in by and choose which language you want your conversation to be in. After that, the robot will guide you through your check in. You will be asked to fill out a small paper with your name, address, and phone number, etc. and drop it into a small slot on the desk. You will also use a computer kiosk next to you to type in your name and retrieve your key card. If you choose the option to have facial recognition instead of a room key, your facial image will be taken here! Your room number is printed on the receipt that comes out when you are finished. **The main staff are all robots, however, human staff are on hand in the hotel to help if needed and they do come out to copy your passports upon check in**
There are also robots that will carry your luggage to your room!
After we were all checked in, we took a look around the rest of the lobby as we meandered towards our room. A small cafeteria type area with vending machines where you can purchase food, small snacks, and beverages is located in the lobby. It’s a relaxing area to sit, grab a bite, and enjoy the natural scenery and park views through tall, large glass windows. There is actually a pretty good range of things to snack on, compared to American hotels, but keep in mind it is still not an actual meal.
As we were searching for our room, we also came across a vending machine that sells pajamas, slippers, and gowns! Prices range from about 100 yen to 300 yen. Next to it is another vending machine that is operated by a large touch screen!
It appears that you leave the main building to go outside to find the rooms, which is actually a very common thing here in Japan. Now when I say this I don’t mean that you have to search for a completely different set of buildings for the rooms. The rooms are attached to the main building but the corridors to reach the rooms are open to the outdoors. For instance, it’s very similar to the set up of a motel in America.
The room doors are fitted with facial recognition technology, allowing guests to access rooms without the need for key cards!
The hotel rooms are very clean and simple- a bed (s), desk, toilet, bathroom, and possibly a chair depending on which room style you receive. The neutral colors help create a relaxing and cozy area, even though the floors are hard wood.
Definetely one of the highlights of our stay for me was the cartoon-like robot that sits on the night stand. There is one in every room of the hotel. Chu-ri-chan, is a small pink robot that you can talk too! I played with her for quite some time, asking her what time it was, what the weather was like or what it will be like the next day, setting up a wake up call, and then trying to figure out how to turn off the wake up call, haha. She can even turn on and off the lights!! I had wayyy too much fun! Plus, it was a great way to work on my Japanese 😉
Air conditioning in the room is the latest radiant panel technology. The room temperature is controlled by a system that detects the body heat of guests and adjusts accordingly. Of course, you can also change the room temperature manually.
Breakfast, if you choose, is in the Aura building. This building is separate from the main building. You walk out the back along the sidewalk through a scenic area. It’s really not far at all. Breakfast is buffet style.
Our roots will forever be from here, America, born and raised. Yet, life requires us to move more frequently than we care to count. Whether living stateside or abroad, you can always find us traveling somewhere. We scout out places that you only think you can dream of one day seeing and we seek out those that aren’t found in guidebooks. We then bring them to life here in our travel memos, so hopefully, one day you too can visit them or at least be able to live vicariously through us. This blog isn’t just about crossing off places from a bucket list. It’s about absorbing and learning how other cultures grow and fit into the same world that we do. Life is short and the world is big. Enjoy and get out there!