First came robot restaurants, and now there’s a new player on the block – the world’s first robot hotel.
Having opened in July of this year, the Henn-na Hotel (literal translation – “Strange Hotel”) is the first of its kind, staffed (almost) entirely by robots. Walk into the hotel, and you’ll be greeted by an English speaking dinosaur robot with a very friendly demeanour, who has the ability to check you in for your stay. There’s also a strangely real female humanoid with blinking lashes available to check in Japanese speaking guests.
There are no room keys at the Strange Hotel – after all, robots aren’t really know for their key finding ability – so check in and room access is all done on facial recognition technology.
But who takes my bag to my room for me, we hear your inner spoilt child cry? Well, the hotel has thought of that as well – robot porters. You just enter your room number on the robot’s screen and away it scuttles without a care in the world.
Other bonkers features of the robot hotel include a robot cloak room –a giant robotic arm that takes guests smaller items and stores them safely away in secure boxes, cleaning robots to keep the hotel looking ship shape, and even an in-room Siri esque device that is programmed to answer the banal questions you’ll probably never ask. It does turn the lights off though – handy, as there are no light switches.
The brain child behind the robot hotel is Hideo Sawada, who runs it as part of the Huis Ten Bosch theme park complex in Sasebo, South-Western Japan. And he insists that using robots in the hotel isn’t a gimmick, but a genuine effort to use technology to improve efficiency.
So how much does it cost?
Surprisingly less than you’d imagine. Sawada’s whole purpose for the hotel was to find an alternative to costly accommodation, with rooms starting at around 9,000 yen (US$80 dollars), which isn’t bad if you’re familiar with regular Japan hotel costs. After all, it’s not like Sawada has any staff wages to pay…
Whilst they can’t offer you a stay at the Strange Hotel (yet – never say never), Contiki offer a pretty near perfect Japan tour, taking in the sights of Tokyo, Hakone, Takayama, Hiroshima, Kyoto, Wakayama and Osaka over 13 days. 2016 dates and rates are now on sale.