Trendsetting Bilbao – Spain’s First “Capsule Hotel” Opens

Situated in northern Spain, Bilbao is the largest city in the province of Biscay and in the Basque Country as a whole. It is also the tenth largest city in Spain, with a population of approximately 350,000.  Always trendsetting, Bilbao is a fascinating city, which over the last 20 years has developed into a hub for art, design, architecture and fashion.

So, it is no surprise that a “capsule hotel” has emerged there.  A capsule hotel, also known as a pod hotel, is a type of hotel developed in Japan that features a large number of small bed-sized rooms known as capsules.  They were originally created to give a way for budget travelers to have somewhere safe and affordable to sleep.  The first capsule hotel in the world opened in 1979 and was the Capsule Inn Osaka, designed by Kisho Kurokawa. From there, it spread to other cities within Japan, and since then, this unique concept has popped up in other countries such as China Belgium Iceland and India.

Now, the world has added Spain to that list!  Bilbao has opened its first capsule hotel, at Number 58 on Doctor Areilza street, similar to those popularized in Japan.  With 50 capsules, 36 will offer single occupancy (24.95 EUR per night), and 14 doubles (35.95 EUR per night) with independent living quarters, promoted by the Bilbao company Optimi Rooms.  Each area will have a viscoelastic mattress, TV, USB connection, headphones, and a sliding door to isolate from other users for privacy.

Iñaki Zabala, one of the promoters of the initiative, explains that these type of capsules are like “premium hostels” and “the cabin, despite its size, is not claustrophobic” as Bilbao capsules are wider than others at 120 cm, vs the standard 90 cm in Japan.  The accommodation consists of an area at the entrance where check-in is done, a common room with vending machines for food and microwave, another area where there are bathrooms and showers, a lockers area where you can store your luggage and finally you will find the area where the capsules are.  The Hostel Box also has establishments in Spain with bunk beds in the form of capsules, but they do not have the Japanese style of isolated compartments like the one that Optimi Rooms have promoted.

An interesting and budget friendly option that might be worth a try!  For further information on Spain, contact the Tourist Offices of Spain.


Samantha Meloni is a senior meeting specialist and a 20+ year veteran in the meeting & events industry who contributes to industry-specific pieces for i-Meet. She currently also holds a 3 star Meeting Professional Badge. Feel free to connect with Samantha on LinkedIn, i-Meet and Ive-Been-There.


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