Japanese 'bookshop' hotels: Inside the Book And Bed Tokyo hostels

It's a book-lover's dream: pick a book from a library of great titles, curl up with it until you feel yourself nodding off then take it to bed – in a nook right behind the bookshelves. Welcome to the rather confusingly named Book And Bed Tokyo Fukuoka.

This designer hostel in Kyushu's largest city is one of six Book And Bed Tokyo "accommodation bookshops" inspired by the notion that for a book-lover "the finest moment of sleep" is when you doze off while reading. The first one opened in Ikebukuro, Tokyo, in 2015, then came one in Kyoto and two more in Tokyo; the Fukuoka one opened last year and a new one opened in Osaka in December.

Whatever you call it, its bookishness is apparent from the moment you check in – at a small reception desk built into a wall made of stacked paperbacks.

Hikaru, the front desk clerk, uses an iPad to take me through the house rules: no eating in bed, no using the hair-dryers after midnight and, most importantly, "Please return the books". It might be an "accommodation bookshop", but the books aren't actually for sale, just for reading while you're there.

She hands me a keycard and some rainbow-coloured ear plugs (the bunks don't have doors, just curtains) and I push open the glass front door bearing a sign, "Have a book day", printed on a page torn from an Umberto Eco novel.

Inside, Book And Bed exudes an atmosphere of studious peace. None of the people I see are chatting on the communal couches or scrolling through their Insta feeds, despite the free Wi-Fi. Instead, they have their noses in books.

The central island of bookshelves has more than 1800, thoughtfully curated by a local independent bookstore. Only about 15 per cent are in English, but it's a strong 15 per cent with plenty of classics – think Murakami, Fitzgerald, Salinger, Orwell, Vonnegut – as well as magazines, guidebooks and other non-fiction.

There are snacks for sale such as popcorn, noodles and a selection of boutique Japanese beers and you can make your own coffee with beans from hip Fukuoka art-café No Coffee.

But staying in would be to ignore one of Book And Bed's best features: its location. It shares the top floor of a six-storey shopping plaza in Tenjin, Fukuoka's fashion district, with several cafes and a hot yoga studio. On the ground floor is a French patisserie I mentally bookmark for breakfast the next morning.

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Outside, I stop at one of Fukuoka's trademark "yatai" stalls, which sprout up on the footpaths of nearby streets every evening, for a steaming bowl of the city's famous Hakata or "tonkotsu" ramen, thin noodles drowned in a collagen-rich pork-bone broth with various vegetable toppings.

There's a subway stop right below the building, providing easy access to attractions such as Ohori Park and its Japanese Garden, Fukuoka Castle ruins for panoramic city views, the airport and Hakata Station, a massive shopping and entertainment complex as well as the hub for shinkansen heading all over Kyushu and to Osaka.

Returning to the hostel I join my fellow guests, mostly young Japanese women, in the silent camaraderie of reading with others, accompanied by quiet music.

As the night ticks on, people start to disappear into their bunks like wild animals retreating to their burrows and eventually I do the same, taking JD Salinger to bed with me.

The plywood interior of my lower bunk (there are also upper bunks accessible by a short ladder) makes me feel like I'm on a boat – or in a coffin, though they are spacious enough to sit up in. The mattress is thin but comfortable enough and bed linen is provided. My only complaint is that the light is a caged bulb too glary for reading.

For some, the novelty of sleeping in a bookshelf might wear off before morning, but I love the experience, partly because it's so quintessentially Japanese: a quirky idea brought to life with thoughtful design, friendly bilingual staff, immaculately clean amenities and a central location. I only wish I were a faster reader, or had stayed more than one night, so I could have finished the book I'd started.

TRIP NOTES

FLY

Cathay Pacific flies daily to Fukuoka via Hong Kong from Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth. See cathaypacific.com

Book And Bed Tokyo Fukuoka is directly above Tenjin subway station, 10 minutes from the airport.

STAY

Book And Bed Tokyo Fukuoka has 28 beds in two sizes: standard "Bookshelf" beds from 4320 yen a night and double "Bunk" beds (for couples) from 6480 yen a night, including Wi-Fi and toiletries. See bookandbedtokyo.com/en/fukuoka/

MORE

traveller.com.au/japan

yokanavi.com/en (Fukuoka City Guide)

Louise Southerden stayed at her own expense with flights by Walk Japan.

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