What is a love hotel?

Every time someone says “love hotel”, the idea that immediately springs to mind is that of its purest original form: a quirky building probably in a hidden alley of some solitary Japanese neighbourhood, displaying garish neon signs. Besides, we know that anyone who dares to come in will be instantly judged. These general assumptions, however, are way far from the truth in our days, since there are love hotels in many countries across the globe which are located in central areas, not necessarily for couples to stay only and not just for the sole purpose or having an affair either, and contrary to what you might think, the difference between a love hotel and a regular one is not that obvious anymore as seen from the outside.

Interestingly enough, the first Japanese love hotels (referred to as rabuho by locals) did not emerge to satisfy the demand of cheaters and young lovers, but to cater to the needs of married couples with children who did not have any privacy at home. Nevertheless, today they have spread to Brazil, Vietnam and Spain -among many other places- and are more about the experience rather than any other thing because of their unconventional –and sometimes shocking- amenities and features. It must be admitted, though, that Asia still ranks as the continent with the highest number of love hotels in the world, and as a matter of fact it is there where you will find the most amusing ones.

One of the main reasons for booking a room in a love hotel when travellers arrange accommodation for a trip is the opportunity to spend a romantic night away with their significant other in a special, unusual manner. Often times, they can choose themed guest rooms according to their hobbies and passions, and aside from the typical hot tub inside the room and the mirrored ceiling they may even get a karaoke station all to themselves, and this is what makes it an interesting experience also for friends, solo travellers, hen or stag parties or tourists who book a stay simply out of curiosity.

What are the most common features you will find in a love hotel?

If you travel to Japan in the hunt for the most traditional, old love hotels -such as the Hotel Casanova in Tokyo or the Little Chapel Christmas in Osaka– you will probably get the chance to recognise some typical characteristics like the eye-catching facades and decoration, the digital panel displaying the prices per hour and per night, and the secret entrance where the receptionist will probably stay hidden.

Asian love hotels may include a karaoke inside the room, which are frequently themed spaces to recreate fantasies that range from a Hello Kitty world to a castle, not forgetting the suggestive atmosphere provided by courtesy chocolates and beverages, massage oils and light dimmers. Around the world, some of the usual extras and amenities that guests find at their love hotel room are complimentary lubricant and prophylactics, toys, costumes, handcuffs, a whirlpool, additional mirrors, mirrors on the ceiling and vibrating or rotating beds.

I did not realize I was staying in a love hotel, what now?

With the rise of boutique hotels aimed at couples who wish to spend a luxury weekend in Europe, the growing availability of motels in America and the increasing popularity of day rooms in high-end hotels that can be booked by the hour, the line between regular hospitality and love hotels is beginning to blur. In the end, what is done inside the hotel room is only up to the guest, who may book some hours to catch up with work, meet with clients, take a nap or spend quality time with someone special. In the corridors and the lobby, you willl be in a hotel like any other.

Love hotels around the world

Below, you will find some of the most frequently recommended love hotels in their respective countries:

The Beni East in Osaka (Japan)

The Frontier Toshima hotel in Tokyo (Japan)

The Motel Punt 14 in Gavá Beach (Spain)

Merveille Paradise I City Soho Suite in Shah Alam (Malaysia)

Motel Absolut in Sao Paulo (Brazil)

Lucy House in Ho Chi Minh City (Vietnam)