Hotel Review: Staying At Robot Hotels Is Not As Fun As It Seems
Henn-Na Hotel (Dan’s Rating: 2/5)
Known to be the first robot hotel, but known to me to be staffed by incompetent robots.
Sasebo and the Robot Hotel
I ended up in Sasebo for a night (my 3rd stop on my journey from Okinawa to Sendai) because I was intrigued at staying in a hotel staffed by robots. I found out about the place from atlasobscura.com. Most of my journey has been fueled by Atlas Obscura so they have high credibility with me.
Arriving At The Hotel
We arrived to the hotel at 1pm, 2 hours before check-in at 3pm. There was no early check-in, so I was able to hangout in the lounge with free Wi-Fi. The reception robots activated around 2:45pm and we were able to check-in a little early.
The robots at check-in are mainly voices that direct you to use the self-service check-in computers. The robots move around a little as they talk, but that’s it.
I saw the robots docked, but they didn’t come out to get our luggage. There wasn’t any worker in the lobby to help set this up.
In the lobby, there was a piano playing robot, several vending machines and a “Karaoke Box.” There were a bunch of items and amenities for sale in the lobby for sale…but you’d have to find a person to buy from.
There were a few gardening robots in the grass, but they weren’t moving. By the looks of it, the robots haven’t move in some time. I later saw an actual person gardening to pick up the slack from these lazy robots.
At the check-in counter, you’ll find yourself in front of a robot and two screens. At the large screen facing you, you’ll select Check-In or Check-Out. After selecting “Check-In,” you’ll be redirected to the smaller screen directly in front of the robot and the robot begins moving. Next, you’ll select your language and the robot will begin speaking. You’ll fill out some data and scan your passports. There was trouble with scanning mine so it took a few tries before getting it to work. Then, you’ll receive a receipt with your room number and one key card to your room.
We had to walk your own luggage to the room since the robot porters weren’t working.
Facial Recognition Required To Get In The Room
To get into the room, there is a door key scanner (typical for most hotels), after that cleared, you had to press the “SCAN” button for the facial recognition scanner, then you could open the door. That facial recognition scanner was very inconvenient since it misread my face several times. I’m not sure what it bases it on. I checked-in so I’m assuming that’s where it scanned my face (or off my passport—bad photo) but when Jeff tried to open the door, it scanned his face with no problem.
That’s when I realized facial recognition is not necessary if you have a key. It should be either just the key or just facial recognition. Having both at the hotel as two levels of clearance to get into the room is inconvenient and unnecessary.
This Is A Motel
The hallways to the rooms were outdoors, very reminiscent of motels. This was only a concern because that makes it much easier for insects to get into the room. This was definitely a problem because there were mosquitoes in the room and a giant cockroach. The cockroach was so big that it needed facial recognition to get in.
For a robot hotel, it was much like a standard business hotel. I’ve stayed in very similar Best Western hotels in Japan that were like this.
The only difference was that there was a robot helper in the room. The robot said she could control the lights or tell us the weather, BUT when we made those requests none of them registered with the robot. It’s like an Amazon Alexa, if Alexa didn’t give a crap about what you were saying. Since we registered the room in English, the robot was speaking in English so it’s nice to see at least those things linked up.
Unfortunately, this robot helped wouldn’t shut the hell up. She would just randomly activate and say the weather when the room was completely quiet. We had to unplug her to get some sleep.
The Room Was Dirty
Jeff cut his foot walking around the floor barefoot. That’s because the floor was dirty. I stepped on a few things too and switch to exclusively slippers in the room.
After a long day of walking around Huis Ten Bosch, it was time for bed. I untuck the bed covers and see a few hairs. I haven’t been on the bed yet. I look under the pillow and see a few more hairs. Someone slept in this bed and the sheets haven’t been changed!
At that point, we wanted to just get a refund and continue on to Fukuoka. I looked at the train schedule but it was too late to go. Then I called reception to change my sheets.
My call went to reception went like this:
Reception (human): ***Japanese***
Me: Hi, I’d like the sheets in my room changed.
Reception: Ok, one moment.
Reception: (2 minutes later) Hello?
Reception: Ok, one moment
The “ok, one moment” happened four more times over 10 minutes. They then said they’d come to the room.
Housekeeping To The Rescue?
Later, housekeeping knocked on the door. I opened to door to find a lady from housekeeping holding an ipad with a live stream of a guy wearing a headset. She spoke to the man in Japanese and then the man spoke to me in English. Interesting solution. We had a conversation for a few minutes about what the problem was. Then housekeeping came in to inspect the bed and confirmed that it was a problem. She left and came back after a few minutes to change the sheets.
I slept pretty well but woke up with a mosquito bites on my feet and legs. Damn it.
We paid $182 to stay here one night and it was severely disappointing. We wanted a refund but there’s only robots at reception and talking with the staff is a big challenge.
For A Robot Hotel, A Lot Of People Work Here