A love hotel is a type of short-stay hotel found around the world operated primarily for the purpose of allowing couples privacy for sexual activities. The name originates from "Hotel Love" in Osaka which was built in 1968 and had a rotating sign.
Love hotels can usually be identified using symbols such as hearts and the offer of a room rate for a "rest" as well as for an overnight stay. The period of a "rest" varies, typically ranging from one to three hours. Cheaper daytime off-peak rates are common. In general, reservations are not possible, leaving the hotel will forfeit access to the room, and overnight stay rates only become available after 10:00 p.m. These hotels may be used for prostitution, although they are sometimes used by budget-travelers sharing accommodation.
Entrances are discreet and interaction with staff is minimized, with rooms often selected from a panel of buttons and the bill settled by pneumatic tube, automatic cash machines, or a pair of hands behind a pane of frosted glass. Although cheaper hotels are often quite utilitarian, higher-end hotels may feature fanciful rooms decorated with anime characters, equipped with rotating beds, ceiling mirrors, karaoke machines, or strange lighting, or may be styled similarly to dungeons, sometimes including S&M gear.
These hotels are typically either concentrated in city districts close to stations, near highways on the city outskirts, or in industrial districts. Love hotel architecture is sometimes garish, with buildings shaped like castles, boats or UFOs and lit with neon lighting. However, some more recent love hotels are very ordinary looking buildings, distinguished mainly by having small, covered, or even no windows.