The Henn Na, A Japanese Hotel Staffed With Robots

The Henn na Hotel (Weird Hotel), in Sasebo, Nagasaki, is a one of a kind experience. I haven’t visited myself but it made my “to do” list after reading about it. It is staffed almost entirely by robots.

A front desk robot performs at robot hotel "Henn na Hotel" in Sasebo, western Japan, Wednesday, July 15, 2015. (AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi)

A front desk robot performs at robot hotel “Henn na Hotel” in Sasebo, western Japan, Wednesday, July 15, 2015. (AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi)

As soon as you enter, you see a grinning velociraptor in a bellhop hat, that takes your check-in information. “If you want to check in, push one,” the dinosaur says. The visitor still has to punch a button on the desk and type in information on a touch panel screen. Then the bellhop, which is an automated cart, takes your luggage to your room.

A porter robot escort a hotel staff during a demonstration for media at Robot hotel "Henn na Hotel" in Sasebo, western Japan, Wednesday, July 15, 2015. (AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi)

A porter robot escort a hotel staff during a demonstration for media at Robot hotel “Henn na Hotel” in Sasebo, western Japan, Wednesday, July 15, 2015. (AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi)

Another feature is facial recognition technology, so instead of the standard electronic keys, a digital image of the guest’s face is registered during check-in. The reason? Robots aren’t good at finding keys if people happen to lose them.

In the rooms, a lamp-size robot in the shape of a fat pink tulip called Tuly answers simple questions such as, “What time is it?” and “What is the weather tomorrow?” You can also tell it to turn the room lights on or off. There are no switches on the walls.

A hotel staff talks with concierge robot "Chu-ri-Robo" at Robot hotel "Henn na Hotel" in Sasebo, western Japan, Wednesday, July 15, 2015. (AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi)

A hotel staff talks with concierge robot “Chu-ri-Robo” at Robot hotel “Henn na Hotel” in Sasebo, western Japan, Wednesday, July 15, 2015. (AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi)

There’s also a robot that can bring snacks to your room.

A front desk robot performs at robot hotel "Henn na Hotel" in Sasebo, western Japan, Wednesday, July 15, 2015. (AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi)

A front desk robot performs at robot hotel “Henn na Hotel” in Sasebo, western Japan, Wednesday, July 15, 2015. (AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi)

It wouldn’t be complete without a giant robotic arm. This one seems a bit overboard. It lifts one of the boxes stacked into the wall and puts it through a space in the glass, where a guest can place an item in it, to use as a locker. it then puts it back, until you go again and ask for your locker. I’m sure human guests could do this on their own though.

A cloak robot performs at Robot hotel "Henn na Hotel" in Sasebo, western Japan, Wednesday, July 15, 2015. (AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi)

A cloak robot performs at Robot hotel “Henn na Hotel” in Sasebo, western Japan, Wednesday, July 15, 2015. (AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi)

But the robots aren’t a gimmick to attract curious patrons. It’s all an attempt to save money. Unlike annoying humans, the robots don’t ask for a raise and don’t need health coverage or 401Ks.

Apparently there’s a lost of cost cutting, because the place is affordable. Staying at Henn na Hotel starts at 9,000 yen ($80), a bargain for Japan, where a stay in one of the nicer hotels can easily cost twice or three times that much.

One area on which Henn na Hotel still relies on humans is security. It is dotted with security cameras, and real people watch everything through a monitor to ensure guests are safe and no one makes off with an expensive robot.

“And they still can’t make beds,” said Sawada who runs the hotel.

read more at The Guardian

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2 thoughts on “The Henn Na, A Japanese Hotel Staffed With Robots

  1. Great piece. I love these kind of posts that are not trying to sell you anything. Just a fun interesting article that I enjoyed reading at work. They really give the blog a different look and feel compared to others. And it’s a nice break from all the MS talk.

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