What It’s Like To Spend A Night Inside A Taiwanese Capsule Hotel

I hadn’t originally planned to spend a night in Kafnu, a capsule hotel and co-working “village”. But after discovering an awkward gap in my schedule and thinking about the best solution, $46 for a night seemed a decent option.

Kafnu describes itself as an “urban village for the new generation of creators”. In practice, that means it’s a cheap place to stay for artists, musicians, entrepreneurs, writers and all kinds of creative types. But the Taipei village has floors of studios, meeting rooms, and shared living spaces filled with all the international power points and USB ports you will ever need.

Kafnu advertises itself as a community and a network, and as such it has its own member app for people to book spaces, register for events, and organise catch-ups with other liked minded folk. When you walk in the doors, events were listed in chalk on a nearby ground floor: one event specifically for networking, another offering advice on resumes, and so on.

The Australian Kafnu hotel, in Sydney’s Alexandria, is an exclusive affair. You’ll have to spend up to $750 a month for an ongoing membership — $900 a month if you want a dedicated desk. It’s not really a hotel at all at those rates, more a place for businesses that need cheap rent.

Kafnu Taipei is more of the reverse. Using Booking.com, I grabbed a single room for $NT1000, or around $46 in Aussie dollars (excluding the foreign currency fee Aussie banks charge).

Upon arriving, the front door was locked. The emailed check-in time said 1300 to 1800, which seemed strange — what places don’t let people in after dinner? But there was a side entrance and a security guard who let me in, and after some finger pointing and gesturing, he passed over my room key and pointed to the nearby elevators.

I could still check in, but I’d have to work the rest out for myself. That was fine.

Kafnu’s space in Taipei occupies several floors, but the dormitories themselves are across floors four and five. Bathrooms on the fifth floor are for women only, and both floors have six dorms with two beds in each.

Inside the room, you’ve got two decent-sized double beds, each of which have a safe for valuables. There’s a power plug and USB port in the bed as well, and a small open wooden cabinet to the side for leaving luggage/backpacks. It’s not locked, but if you’re a backpacker or someone travelling with a single bag, it’s a doable setup.

Fortunately, I was the only one staying in the room. The doors automatically lock after they close, so there was no concern about someone wandering in and pilfering anything. Apart from the safe and USB ports, the beds also have a dimmable light, alarm, and a fan. Simple, but comfortable.

Each bed has a towel and some pretty basic slippers; there’s no free toothbrushes or razors. The showers themselves are really wide — large enough to fit two people in comfortably, to give you an indication — and there’s large pump bottles for the shampoo and body wash, so you don’t have to fret about being stingy.

In the shared meeting spaces, you’ll find coffee machines, microwaves, a shared fridge, and various spots for hotdesking. There was even a solid gaming PC setup — a GTX 10 series card, i7-8700K and a neat mouse and keyboard, although I couldn’t see what GTX model because I didn’t have the PIN. Inside a nearby draw was a set of business cards, left by other start-ups, entrepreneurs and other folk who had travelled through Kafnu Taipei.

All in all, it was a pretty good experience. The most daunting thing was climbing up the small steps to the top bunk, which was the short straw I drew. But if you’re travelling as a couple or with a friend, you can lock down a room for a lot less than what AirBnB or a normal hotel room would cost. It was perfectly comfortable too, despite what the imagination conjures when you think of the words “capsule hotel”.

The author travelled to Computex as a guest of ASUS and Intel, although neither sponsor covered the costs of the capsule hotel — this one was all on me.

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