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Capsule Hotel Hits It Big with Budget Travelers

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The very first capsule hotel to be opened in the city has attracted many budget travelers with its prices, even though it is not fully operational yet.

"I come to Shanghai quite often and it's a nice place to stay - it's cheap and clean," said Luo Yong, a 26-year-old graduate student from East China's Shandong province.

The basic rate is 28 yuan (US$4.22) per person, plus an additional 4 yuan an hour. The hotel also offers a package of 68 yuan for 10 hours and 88 yuan for 24 hours.

"This is a huge bargain compared with other budget hotels in Shanghai," said Ta Zan, the 33-year-old owner of the hotel.

The 300-square-meter hotel, located on the north side of the Shanghai Railway Station, consists of 68 "capsules", each 1.1-meters high, 1.1-meters wide and 2.2-meters long.

The capsule hotel is understood to be China's first built according to international standards.

All of the capsules are imported from Japan where capsule hotels originated, and each is equipped with independent sockets, clocks, lights, TV and wireless Internet service. The hotel also has a public lavatory, shower room, smoking room and shared guest room.

Ta said he used to stay at capsule hotels in Tokyo during his undergraduate years and worked at a capsule hotel while he was doing his MBA in Japan in 2005, so he knows how they work and how to make guests feel comfortable.

When he settled in Shanghai two years ago, he decided to establish his own capsule hotel in the city.

He based the hotel on capsule hotels in Japan but he has made some special changes based on Chinese guests' habits.

"In Japan capsule hotels are usually equipped with bathtubs, but in China people are more willing to take a shower, so we have the shower room," he said.

He has also separated the capsules into three snoring zones.

"Guests who often snore can stay in the same zones so they will feel better knowing that others are not disturbed," he said.

Like most of capsule hotels in Japan, the one in Shanghai is for men only.

But the idea of staying in such a compact space is not appealing to everyone.

"I feel the idea is like putting a person in a coffin," said Wang Lei, a 21-year-old student from Beijing.

"The price is also not that appealing. A bed at a youth hostel in Shanghai costs about 60 yuan per night," he added.

(China Daily January 10, 2011)

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