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My love for Love Hotels: Maria Theresia is my No.1 : )

May 17, 2023

WHAT is a love hotel!? It may sound like a dodgy establishment, but primarily it’s a hotel offering for LOVERS. And I will tell you all about Maria Theresia in Takatsuki in a second.

In Japan, most sons and daughters live with mom and dad until their own wedding. The walls at home are made of paper (not everywhere of course… but you get what I mean : )), and anyway it would be inappropriate to bring the boyfriend or girlfriend home before you are engaged.

For undisturbed togetherness, therefore, you go to the Love Hotel. And I tell you it’s so much fun and brings sparkles to your love life!

They are everywhere and you recognize them by their appearance. Even in Tokyo downtown in Shibuya, you’ll find "Love Hotel Hill": a hill full of colorful facades and funny names. Across the country, these love nests tend to be built along highway exits, not within sight of children. One time in summer 2001 Ken and I went to see a firework show in a remote place. The traffic jam was thick after the event sooo what did we do instead of sitting in the car : )? Pulled up to one of these palaces and had a much better use of our time. 

Most of the rooms are incredibly kitschy or decorated as theme rooms. In the lobby of older love hotels, you can choose your room from an illuminated photo board: Just press the button, the light goes off - and the room is immediately considered occupied. (I hope these oldschool versions still exist… I didn’t check the Love Hotel-standards on this trip : )!

More modern hotels have a screen that displays the possible choices. During the day, they are on offer with an hourly rate, an overnight stay is called "sutei" (English "stay") and costs a flat rate.

It depends on the hotel prices where you live but by Swiss standards, the rooms, some of which are huge, are very cheap. For about 110$, you can get an entire suite with a whirlpool bath, sauna, massage chair, free minibar and giant TV. Depending on the year the hotel was built and the amenities, you can even stay cheaply in downtown Tokyo: At Hotel Highland in Shibuya, the cheapest room did cost around $60.

But be careful: Sleeping in can be expensive! Therefore, be sure to check the night before when the hourly rate starts ticking again. (Ask me why I know… : ) )

On a trip - whether alone or as a couple - I definitely recommend trying out these hotels. They are the cheap and creative change from regular lodging and just as squeaky clean. Search online and you'll get a huge selection in no time.

The only downside to the Love Hotel as a traveler: there's no way to book several days in a row or store your luggage. Instead, some rooms are delightfully crazy. My all time favorite: My castle-like "Maria Theresia" in Takatsuki. We spent a lot of money there in our first months of dating : ).

It was brand new in 2001 and it was super popular. Venezia style meets Titanic? The tagline was “Beato Angero”, cutely wrongly spelled Italian Angel. In Japanese there is no L, only R within a syllable. So RO or RU are used for “translating” foreign words into Japanese-Writing… which is the source for a lot of fun “WTF’s” : ).

When Maria Theresia was fully booked for “sutei” the outside lights got turned off. So I remember very welllll how Ken and I drove around the corner and sighed: Noooooo : ) when the castle didn’t appear in all its glory of the light up. Our second best choice was a tropical themed castle near Takatsuki called Chapel. I still have matches from there in a treasure box.

Over the years we always visited Maria Theresia at least once when we were back in Japan. There was a new feature in the jet bath with changing underwater lights or when we booked the most expensive room and we were disappointed that it was so small and theeeen we discovered that there is a private rooftop jacuzzi. Last time in 2017 we decided that this was the last time. The glory is gone, the rooms are stinky and worn down. Today I just read on their website that they not only reformed the outside but also the inside… so maybe next time we’ll give it another chance? : ) I still have the member card in my purse which brings you free breakfast ; ).

The attached video is a bit oooold and in Swiss German but you’ll see Ken in the round bath tub in a very fun love hotel near his mothers place where we stayed for one night. She drove us there because “cheap and fun place to stay hellooo”! The room had a moat, the round room within the moat with a round waterbed was a dream in red and the bathroom made your blood run cold with its mosaic art and a kamasutra relief print on the wall. We had to run the water for 10 min before it got clear because of all the rust in the pipes.

Payment was made by pneumatic tube. Because the golden rule is: nobody wants to be seen. That would be embarrassing. In other hotels, you pay at a reception which is placed so low in the wall that you just see the hands of the other person. When I stayed in a love hotel with Gian the first time he visited me in Japan in 2001 and everybody confirmed that it’s the cheapest to stay in a love hotel in Tokyo, we went room hunting based on price and found Hotel Highland. He said loudly in Swiss German: “I can’t see this person!” and stuck his curly long haired head underneath that low placed reception. The grandma on the other side jumped AND as I apologized we became friends. Gian gave her Swiss chocolate and we started talking, that we’re just friends but it’s so cool to have this low priced place to stay. We told her about our luggage-situation and that we would love to stay 3 nights. Ken couldn't believe that this lady let us leave our backpacks in her office during the day AND that she kept one room for us to stay for the night. We just had to be “home” by 11pm : ) Making friends everywhere, that’s what brings me JOY!

In the video you also see how the payment works in Maria Theresia with a vending machine type of computer. Google translate will help you to push the right buttons. Are you trying out a love hotel when you are in Japan? You will be rewarded with kitsch and magic and a lot of fun.

Let’s make this world a more colorful, playful and joyful place!


PS: If you are not going to Japan soon and you want MORE FUN without a love hotel, go to to read the blog post about “having more fun” and to download the free journaling workbook.

PPS: Here’s the link to the Maria Theresia website:


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