Jul 13, 2017

The Millennials, Kyoto - Where work and play come with naps and free beer

The timing of this trip to Kyoto for a stint of work and an overnight stay at new, well, capsule hotel “The Millennials” seems apt. Tokyo recently launched its “Jisa Biz” campaign - a well meaning but very much up against it effort to create a bit of space on the trains into central Tokyo of a morning. Heading into Tokyo to catch the Shinkansen to Kyoto this very morning, the notorious Tozai Line seemed to be groaning under the usual strain of too many bodies trying to get to the office at the same time.  

The contrast between today’s early rush into Tokyo and the current environment in which this expat is typing these very words couldn’t be starker. Here I am ...

This is the lounge-cum-kitchen-cum-social area of “The Millennials” a new concept in overnighting on a reasonable budget and a place where work, play, being social, napping and even free beer blend seamlessly. It is basically everything that my morning commute into central Tokyo is not - tasteful, progressive, without fuss, comfortable and emphatically a place where I would prefer to conduct my working life.  

I’m one of the lucky ones, “The Millennials” doesn’t open until tomorrow, so for now there are just a few of us here with the  press, pitter pattering away on our laptops sat atop organic looking work spaces with our bottoms on trendy stools, comfortable sofas or chairs. I can hear a track by Solange playing on the sound system and somewhere below me, the other side of the near floor-to-ceiling windows, Kawaramachi-Dori is busying itself for another Kyoto evening. Here the lines between work and play are blurred (or maybe it’s the free beer - you pour it yourself).

But this is OK, the idea of work and life, life and work having to be divided as if two entities constantly at each other’s throats is one that The Millennials attempts to dispel. Here work and play exist in the same space. Makes sense really, for most of us, one can’t exist without the other so why not try and make the best of both? Anyway, it says so in the promotional material - “Work, Nap, Work, Beer!”

The Millennials has been chosen as a name with real purpose, rather than some misplaced usage of English. It’s the generation of the same name that is the key driver of such combinations and themes that are on display here - tech-savvy but minimal, comfort without the excess, and access without need for ownership. In regards to the latter, we could simply call this ‘sharing’. In fact, some 20% of the space in The Millennials is shared, be it the massive corner sofas (with charge sockets, of course), the quiet set of desks in the workspace, the counter kitchen with all mod cons, or the rooftop terrace.  

In the opening blurb of this piece we called The Millennials a "capsule hotel". Maybe that was to do it a disservice. The capsule hotel, although undergoing something of a reformation in Japan, still tends to conjure images of knackered and boozed up salaryman types scraping the barrel in their choice of accommodation. No, the capsules at The Millennials are in fact ‘smart pods’ - high enough to stand tall in, wide enough to spread out in, and with beds that rival hotel comfort. The tech is in place, too. Pods are at the mercy of the touch of an iPod - lighting, fan, wake up alarms (no sound - the bed inclines) - all very Millennial. The iPod also works as a security key to access the floor of your smart pod. Each pod comes with amenity kit bag and guests can pick up room wear (custom made for The Millennials and very tasteful) at reception.

You don’t have to be pulling an overnighter to enjoy the space here. Anyone (even non Millennial) can drop in and use the workspace, kitchen and lounge. The coffee pours forth all day and that bit about the free beer wasn’t a joke, 17:30 - 18:30 is a ‘happy hour’ of sorts at The Millennials! And this is half point of the place - to bring people together from all stripes, over work and play.

The people behind The Millennials have another facility scheduled for a 2018 opening in Shibuya, Tokyo and more beyond that. Maybe this, then, is what the future of work, rest and play (to a certain degree) looks like in Japan. Here’s hoping so because it’s much easier on the eye, and the stress levels, than my current charge into the office.

You’ll find The Millennials on Kawaramachi-Dori about halfway between Kawaramachi and Kyoto Shiyakusho-mae stations. We accessed from Kyoto Station taking the Kyoto City Subway Karasuma Line and then the Hankyu Kyoto Line to Kawaramachi station from which it was within a 5-minute walk. From Kyoto Station it didn’t take more than 20 mins.

There are some 150 pods at The Millennials in Kyoto. Pods on female / male only floors are available as are those on all-gender floors. Showers / toilets on each floor.

The communal / work spaces at The Millennials are open 24 hrs, 365 days a year.

NameThe Millennials
Address235 Yamazaki-machi,  Kawaramachi Sanjō-kudaru, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto 
Web (Japanese)https://www.themillennials.jp/

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  • genkidesu

    on Jul 14

    I love this entire concept! And can I give a high five to whoever designed this place? The decor is gorgeous!

  • City-Cost

    on Jul 18

    @genkidesu The public spaces here are very nice and well thought out. Location wise it's fantastic - right in the heart of the Kyoto action. If you do stay you should try out the wake up alarm where the bed inclines into sofa form to wake up you up (instead of there being an alarm which would be too noisy). Hilarious (and effective)!