We spoke to an industry veteran about the rationale behind the common practice, and got an answer we definitely weren’t expecting.
In many ways, Japan’s love hotels, which rent out rooms on a more-or-less hourly rate to amorous couples in need of a little privacy, are pretty widely welcoming. You’re not required to show any ID to prove your name or age. Employees don’t ask for your address or telephone number, and for payment, cash will do just fine, so there’s no need to give your credit card info either.
But one gap in this egalitarian treatment of guests is how love hotels often react to gay male couples. While there may not be signs or notices explicitly prohibiting them, many love hotels have a soft policy of asking gay men to take their business elsewhere.
To learn more about this common industry practice, we asked someone we’ll call Mr. S. Now 30 years old, Mr. S spent five years working in multiple thriving love hotels in one of Japan’s most prominent entertainment districts, and he recently spoke with us about how his places of employment responded when two men walked in the door together.
RocketNews24: Right off the bat, we’d like to ask you. When male couples came, how did the hotels you worked at react?
Mr. S: We refused service to them. There were cameras at the entrance to the building and near the elevators, and if we spotted a male couple, we’d go speak with them right away.”
RN24: I see. And did you have male couples coming in very frequently?
Mr. S: No, they were actually pretty rare. I think that was because word had gotten around that we refused service to them. As far as I know, almost all of the love hotels I worked at didn’t allow male couples.
Of course, there are love hotels that allow male couples too. In the neighborhood where I worked, there was one such place. That information got passed around, so I think male couples would go there instead.
RN24: So now the big question: Why did the hotels you worked at turn away male couples?
Mr. S: Well, this is really tough to talk about…but often, male couples make a really big mess in love hotel rooms. Honestly, I don’t want to say this, but, after they left, it would take 10, or sometimes 30, times as long to clean the room as it would if a heterosexual couple had used it.
RN24: The rooms…were dirty?
Mr. S: Like I said, the hotels I worked at refused service to male couples. But sometimes we wouldn’t notice them coming in. When we’d clean the room afterwards, there was yellow stuff on the blankets and sheets.
Mr. S: At the hotels I worked at, we didn’t turn away female couples. They’d also leave the rooms dirtier than heterosexual couples, but that’s because they’d leave a bunch of trash and makeup containers behind. With two women, I think they don’t feel ashamed about that. But, compared to male couples, they were cuter.
Mr. S: Of course, even with heterosexual couples, some of them would make an awful mess of the room. Sometimes they’d spread lotion all over the place, or leave brown stains on the bed. But there was a pretty low probability of stuff like that happening.
Even when I first started working at the hotels, it was standard practice to turn away male couples, so I think the hotels had some sort of statistics showing that male couples meant a higher chance of the rooms getting extra dirty.
Mr. S: Hotels earn revenue by renting out their rooms. Especially during peak hours, if hotels can get their rooms cleaned just a little faster, it makes a huge difference in how much they earn. Love hotels aren’t turning male couples away because they’re both guys, but because they mean a big chance of having to spend a lot more time cleaning the room and get it ready for the next customers.
Top image ©RocketNews24
[ Read in Japanese ]