There are a LOT of unique hotels all over the world and if you’re in Japan, it is a MUST to check out the branches of Henn na Hotel (変なホテル) that are spread out all over the country!
Why…? Because it is the world’s first robot-staffed chain of hotels that is recognized by the Guinness World Records!
Most of the services are provided by robots, and though most are ‘mechanized’ the whole experience can still be human as it helps you take a step into the future by making full use of the latest technology.
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About Henn na Hotel
Roughly translated to “Strange Hotel” or “Weird Hotel”, Henn na Hotel rather wants to focus on the other meaning of the word ‘henn na’ which is ‘to change’ as it pertains to their commitment to evolution and comfort that is beyond the extraordinary.
H.I.S. Hotel Holdings is the operator of the hotel chain and they first opened their branch back in 2015 at the popular theme park in Nagasaki called Huis Ten Bosch — since then, they have expanded and have over 17 hotel branches in every major region across Japan.
Robots make up the main staff of the hotel. There is still human staff but they mostly work behind the scenes!
CHECK-IN & CHECK OUT. Features vary from every branch hotel but the multilingual robots are often designed as humans, ninjas, samurai, or dinosaurs! (Some branches rather have holograms). After they greet you, there are usually two (2) main ways to check-in, one is to scan your passport directly (preferable for international visitors) and the other is to check in with your name. Once that’s done, your room card/key along with the invoice will be dispensed from a machine.
Some hotels such as that of Tokyo Asakusabashi branch will have designed floor signs that are projected on the ground to lead you to the elevator.
ROOM SERVICE. Delivery of food to your room is not possible, but instead, you’ll be accompanied instead by a cute robot friend called “Unibo” (an Unirobot) that can give you the basic service that you’ll need. For example, he can understand basic commands such as turning the lights off/on — somewhat similar to that of Siri or Alexa! There are lapses in its service at times, but it can still be quite a helping hand!
LUGGAGE SERVICE. If you have items that you want to be kept by the hotel, there is typically a pay locker (500 yen for 24 hours) at the lobby that is operated by a robotic arm. There are size limitations for the baggage handling door (usually at 42cm x 72cm) and after you insert your items there, the robotic arm will automatically store them in the locker for you.
ONSEN. Kansai Airport hotel branch has a natural hot spring that offers an ocean view of Osaka Bay (with planes often flying in the distance as they make their way to Kansai airport).
THEATER ROOM. Tokyo Haneda branch has an amazing 80-inch projector that offers about 100 movies and shows, along with comfortable seats for your ease.
CONVENIENCE STORE. Some hotel branches have a smart convenience store (that only accepts payments by credit card or WeChatPay) along with a quaint cafe corner to sit in.
RESTAURANT. Most hotels have an eating area for a buffet breakfast.
A separate extension found in Shibuya, you can find the Henn na Cafe where drinks are prepared by humans but served by a robot!
To enter your assigned room, you can either use the room card/key or register yourself through its face recognition functionality. It works quite well but just to be sure, you must have your room card/key with you at all times.
Most of the rooms in Henn na Hotels are modern with simple minimalist design elements. But what makes your stay more amazing are the number of tech functionalities and comfortable features that are as follows.
TABII. Apart from the aforementioned Unibo robot installed in the rooms, there is also a smart program similar to Alexa or Siri called ‘Tabii‘ and it is an app that you can use for free with the use of the room’s tablet. You can do a wide range of actions on it such as checking local travel information, booking restaurant or kimono reservations, and many more. You can even use it as a remote control!
ROBOPHONE. Some branches have an amazing humanoid robot smartphone that is developed by Sharp Corporation. It is equipped with face and voice recognition with various fun functions such as dancing, storytelling, and quizzes. In fact, some of the accommodations have Robophones laid out in the lobby and they will do regular dances on certain time schedules! (Other times, the room will simply provide a FREE normal smartphone that you can use during your stay).
CHROMECAST. For ease of entertainment viewing, most hotels have a Google Chromecast installed on their Smart TVs.
VR. Hotel branches in Asakusa Tawaramachi and Tokyo Nishikasai offer the popular VR “Oculus Quest 2” for rent to its guests so that anyone can enjoy an array of games like Pokemon and more!
LGSTYLER. This is an amazing steam generator built inside the hotel rooms’ closet which will help remove wrinkles and unpleasant odors from your clothing.
FUTOCON. A built-in sensor that keeps the futon or mattress at a good temperature especially during hot and cold days. It also removes viruses, fungi, and could odors to further provide a more optimal sleep for everyone!
PHILIPS LIGHTS. With over 16 million colors, guests can adjust the room lighting to their liking (can be easily controlled through Unibo robot or from the ‘Tabii’ app in the tablet installed in the room).
Booking a stay in any of these branch accommodations is sure to make your Japan travel a whole lot more interesting! The best part? Unlike what you might think, it’s not as expensive (the price starts from $40 per night). So what are you waiting for…?