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Robot-run Japanese hotel plans world dominance with 100 new locations

Creepy robots, coming your way

A receptionist robot, left, greets a hotel employee, right, demonstrating how to check in at the aptly called Henn-na Hotel or Weird Hotel, in Sasebo, southwestern Japan.
AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi

Editor's Note: This post was originally published in August 2015 and has been updated with the most recent information.

If people just aren’t your thing, check out the Henna Na hotel in southwestern Japan. Instead of your normal—and let’s face it, mercurial—hotel staff, you’ll get 140 robots catering to your every whim.

Now, the two concerns weighing equally on your mind are probably 1) I hope there isn't a power outage, and 2) I hope I'm not a protagonist in a movie that ends with me being enslaved by robots.

The 100-room Henn na Hotel (literal translation: strange hotel) bills itself as the world’s first hotel staffed by robots, and in terms of addressing the latter concern, they may be employing some reverse psychology in terms of making all the robots as creepy as possible.

If you're nervous about checking in to your robot hotel room, don't worry—there's a raptor with a bow tie and beard to greet you in Japanese, English, or Korean. Or you can choose the somehow-even-more-unsettling lifelike lady robot, or the robots that handle all the window-cleaning and vacuuming.

For our money, though, the one that's most like to murder you in the concierge robot in your room or the “cloak” robot that runs the in-house lockers. And then there’s the bright-red “porter” robot that could take your luggage and flee at any moment. It’s hard to choose which one to be scared of first.

Since opening in 2015, the Henn na Hotel has done fairly well, even if its robots are a bit buggy. So well, in fact, that owner H.I.S. plans six openings in Tokyo and three in Osaka Prefecture by 2018. After that, grand plans call for 100 more robot hotels, including some overseas. There’s no doubt a novelty factor happening at Henna na Hotel, but its owners also claim that robots cut costs and help make the hotel more efficient.

Whether or not you buy into the robot-as-staff phenomenon, the hotel is using some interesting tech. The Henn na Hotel is keyless, preferring facial-recognition for guests. It also boasts an air-conditioning system that is sensor-controlled and tailored to your personal body temperature.

But we still can’t get over the robots.

A dinosaur serves the front desk.
Courtesy of Henn na Hotel
The red porter robot takes luggage to a room.
Courtesy of Henn na Hotel
Courtesy of Henn na Hotel