Japan’s robot hotel opens its (automatic) doors

Posted at 3:49 PM, Jul 17, 2015
and last updated 2015-07-17 15:49:54-04

When the reception desk is staffed by a robot dinosaur, the chances of a room upgrade are going to be fairly slim.

That hasn’t stopped the first guests checking in to what’s billed as the world’s first robot hotel.

The five-star Japanese Henn-na Hotel — a name that translates as Strange Hotel — this week opened its doors to bemused visitors to Huis Ten Bosch, a theme park in Nagasaki Prefecture.

Humanoid robots greet Japanese-speaking guests at reception, while English-speaking guests are met, for reasons that aren’t exactly clear, by a robotic dinosaur.

The robots are said to be able to engage in intelligent conversations.

More functional droids are on hand to cart luggage to the hotel’s 72 rooms, staff luggage lockers and clean.

Tipping, thankfully, does not compute.

The hotel is currently in its first phase. A second stage is due to be completed in 2016 adding an additional 72 rooms.

High-tech features keep prices low

When the hotel was first announced, Huis Ten Bosch President Hideo Sawada said he hoped robots would eventually run 90% of the property.

“In the future, we’re hoping to build 1,000 similar hotels around the world,” he said, according to Japan’s Nikkei News.

Other features will help make Henn-na the most futuristic low-cost hotel in the industry, according to the company.

Guestroom doors are accessed by facial-recognition technology.

Amenities provided in rooms will be kept minimal. Guests can request items through a tablet when needed.

Instead of air-conditioning, a radiation panel will detect body heat in rooms and adjust the temperature.

Solar power and other energy-saving features will be used to reduce operating costs.

Bid for your room

Room rates will vary depending on demand.

Instead of being presented with a fixed price, guests will bid for rooms during peak season. The highest bidders will secure rooms, though there will be a price cap on bidding.

The hotel says room fees at opening will be from JPY7,000 ($60) for a single room to JPY18,000 ($153), the highest possible price after bidding, for a triple room.

Superior and deluxe rooms will cost more.

Guests can already reserve rooms online through the hotel’s website.