Donald Ritchie’s recent review of Japanese Love Hotels: A Cultural History, by Sarah Chaplin, has the following interesting section:
The contemporary love hotel is now much more kawaii (cute) than kinky.
Among the the reasons offered for this is that there has been something of a power shift in love-hotel choice. It used to be the male half that decided. Back then the places had hopeful macho monikers — Empire, Rex, King. Then the female half began to choose. Love hotels started calling themselves “fashion hotels” or “boutique hotels,” and began to have lavish lobbies with theme-shops, colors like beige and lavender, and decor like Laura Ashley.
This change can be documented in the Meguro Emperor (still in Meguro), which began in 1973 as a he-man fort before it slowly metamorphosed into a romantic Disneyland castle. The interior has been several times revised to segue from male- to female-friendly. Even the name has changed. It is now Gallery Hotel.
In most love hotels “macho” kanji has been replaced by “feminine” hiragana, trendy katakana or, more often, romaji, that romanized script that carries no male/female associations at all.
source: It’s ladies first now in Japanese love hotels, Japan Times, August 26, 2007