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    Robot Hotel of the Future: Is it worth Staying?

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    The sliding electronic doors of the robot hotel open, and I’m face-to-face with a velociraptor wearing a bellhop’s hat and bowtie. Its sharp teeth are bared, and its claws are poised as if ready to strike. But the most bizarre part isn’t the vicious dinosaur – it’s the fact that it’s chatting away in Japanese and repeatedly asking me to hand over my credit card while making jokes! Only in Japan could this make any sense.

    I’m standing in the lobby of the Henn-na Hotel in Sasebo, Japan, on the island of Kyushu. I’m here to experience what’s been dubbed the world’s most efficient hotel, staffed almost entirely by robots. As the sun begins to set over Omura Bay, I’m about to step into the future.

    Robot Hotel Japan

    A Hotel Full of Robots, Not Humans

    The open-plan lobby looks more like a sci-fi movie set than a hotel. There’s not a human employee in sight. Instead, an army of over 250 robots works the front desk, concierge, luggage service, and more.

    Next to the raptor bellhop is Yumeko, an eerie white humanoid robot with pearl-like skin and piercing eyes. She’s checking in a family while smoothly conversing with them in Japanese. Nearby, a well-polished garbage bin sits at a grand piano, tinkling out pop tunes.

    Robot Hotel Japan

    Vacuum cleaning robots roam the lobby floors, automated gardeners trim the hedges outside, and a robotic claw handles luggage – the kind typically found on car assembly lines. It feels like I’ve stepped into a robotic wonderland populated with real-life versions of classic sci-fi bots – quirky robots reminiscent of Wall-E, Marvin the Paranoid Android, and more.

    Checking In Robot Hotel With Facial Recognition

    I check myself in at an ATM-style kiosk that prints out a paper slip with my room number instead of a keycard. There are no old-fashioned physical keys here.

    To access my room, I have to pass a facial recognition test – which turns out to be a 5-minute ordeal of squinting and odd expressions before the camera finally recognizes me. So much for high-tech efficiency.

    My Robot Butler and Hotel Room

    Inside my simple hotel room, my robot butler Chur-ri-Chan awaits me. Shaped like a tulip on a table, the robot can give weather reports, set wake-up calls, and even sing Japanese lullabies.

    Robot Hotel

    Aside from the Japanese toilet with spray functions, the room reminds me of a Travelodge or roadside motel – plain decor and basic amenities. However, the lighting switches operate on motion sensors that track my movements, clicking on as I enter and off as I leave. It’s a constant reminder that I’m being watched by robotic eyes.

    Overcoming Communication Barriers in Robot Hotel

    I try to ask my butler bot where I can find a restaurant for dinner, but the responses are hilariously off-topic. I quickly realize that Japanese robots don’t understand my Scottish accent and can’t communicate effectively.

    Luckily, my smartphone can provide the information I need. But the language and accent barrier illustrates that we still have a ways to go before robots can truly replace human interactions and tasks.

    Robot Hotel Bedroom

    Is This the Hotel of the Future?

    “This is the future,” explains Allen Jongkeun Lee, one of the few human employees that monitors the robots. “No staff costs, no breaks, no one working the front desk or concierge. It drives costs down for us and for guests.”

    Indeed, this seems like a preview of the future. Henn-na Hotel already has two sister properties in Japan, with plans for 10 more by next year, including six in Tokyo. The parent company aims to build 100 robot-staffed hotels in the next 5 years.

    The Pros and Cons

    While the dexterous robots and automation provide wow-factor and reduce labor costs, the lack of human touch is apparent. The simplicity of the rooms also illustrates how the savings on human staff allow rates around $70 USD per night – inexpensive for Japan.

    On the one hand, it’s exciting to see robotic technology deployed on this scale in a public business. Yet on the other hand, the interactions feel sterile and impersonal. There’s no human concierge to give insider tips, no porter to help with luggage, no maid service to tidy up.

    Robot Hotel Reception

    Imagining the Future

    As I head back to my no-frills room for the night, I can’t help but wonder what the hotel experience will be like in 25 years. Robotic masseuses, cyborg sommeliers, android pool attendants – the possibilities for automation seem endless. But will the human touch still have a place? Only time will tell what role robots will play at hotels and beyond in the future. One thing’s for sure – a stay at Henn-na provides a surreal glimpse of what’s to come.

    If You Visit Robot Hotel of Japan

    Getting There: Flights into Sasebo are available from Tokyo and other major Japanese cities. It’s about 90 minutes by bus or train from Fukuoka.

    Stay: Henn-na Hotel has doubles starting around $70 USD per night.

    More Info: seejapan.co.uk

    Must read: BUDGET TRAVEL FOR TRAVELLERS AND CHEAP TRIP HACKS IN 2024

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