I travel a lot.
It’s kind of, like, my only hobby (aside from blogging and watching trashy reality television). I’ve done some pretty extensive travelling throughout Japan, using services such as Airbnb and Meetrip to cut down on costs – but every once and a while I just have to suck it up and stay in a Japanese hotel.
The more I thought about it, though, I realized that I actually do like Japanese hotels. They’re not bad. At all. Between the friendly staff, the overall vibe, and the facilities (of even the cheapest hotel) – I feel more comfortable in Japanese hotels than hotels in nearly any other country (including European countries).
Things I love about Japanese Hotels
1. Even the cheapest hotels are clean, respectable, and secure
Hotels in Japan either have curfews or gatekeepers (or both). You don’t have to worry about random strangers wandering the hallway, looking for a party. The gatekeepers occasionally patrol the hallways making sure everyone is ok and no one is being too loud. It’s kind of like living in a quiet, friendly dormitory.
2. Cheap hotels DO exist
I know. Tokyo is the second most expensive city in the world to live in. I get it. Things are expensive. But hotels don’t have to be. In Osaka, I had a nice single-room hotel for about $20 a night. In Hakodate, we booked during the most busy week of the year, and still managed to find great, comfortable hotel rooms for under $100 a night (some even had a beach view with private access).
There are a lot of expensive hotels in Japan, but cheap hotels DO exist (if you are willing to look around a bit).
The best guide I know of for Cheap hotels (broken down by price and type) is the Tokyo Cheapo Full Guide to Cheap Hotels
If you’re looking for a cheap place to stay, try their list first. It will save you quite a bit of searching around the web.
3. Every hotel I’ve been to has matching robes
Don’t we look adorable? I know. I get that a lot.
So, I like matching robes. A lot. Robes are fun to sleep in, fun to parade around the hotel in, and fun to take pictures in. I feel like I’m getting more of a cultural exchange when I wear the Japanese hotel robes.
4. Every once and a while they have the cutest little “extra” amenities
A fun hotel we stayed at in Hakodate had a “pick your own pillow” option. They had seven different pillow options, ranging in thickness, consistency (memory foam, regular pillow, Japanese beaded pillow), and size. It was fantastic. I hoarded a couple and tried them all out.
I’ve had other hotels that offer free coffee, snacks, extra blankets, face masks, complimentary eye shadow (not sure why), and those little Japanese paper packets used to wipe your makeup off. Japanese hotels like giving out freebes.
5. Because of the train and bus system in Japan, hotels are easily accessible (without a car or taxi)
I think the furthest I had to walk for a hotel was in Hakodate – it was like a ten minute walk. No problem at all.
6. The bathrooms are tiny, but clean and efficient
No mildew stains, no unclean crevices, and no leaking seals on the bathtub. Everything is plastic and easy to clean. It’s also tiny.
7. The staff are incredibly friendly and helpful
They have maps at the front desk of nearly every Japanese hotel I’ve stayed at. The staff are fun to chat with, and can give you directions to the best (and cheapest) attractions, restaurants, and shops around the town.
8. Having a beach-side view or centralized location doesn’t add too much onto the price tag
This is the view out of one of the hotels in Hakodate. It cost an extra $2 per person to get a room with a beach view – and it was RIGHT on the beach. There were rows of hotels along the beach, but no one seemed interested in swimming. It was weird.
But not crowded (which is cool).
9. They typically charge per person, rather than per room
I have mixed feelings about this one. When I’m travelling alone – I LOVE it. I can get a killer room for less than $40. But when I’m travelling with my fiance, I get a little annoyed they charge us per person (even if we were renting the same room).
10. The beds are comfortable and don’t have awkward stains
Hey – notice our matching robes on the bed?
I seriously love those robes. So much.
11. Your neighbors are (almost always) quiet
I think I’ve had one “loud neighbor” experience in Japan. I was staying in Osaka – and some of the dunk foreigner neighbors were making a racket while they tried to find their hotel. It woke me up at like 2am.
I could still hear them talking in their room across the hall – because the hotels have paper-thin walls. But sure enough, not five minutes later, the Japanese college-age student manning the front desk came by and told them to keep it down. It was awesome.
12. The whole “taking your shoes off in the entrance” actually does make sense (and keeps things clean)
I’m so used to taking off my shoes. It’s weird. I like it how Japanese hotels provide slipper for me to chill in. It’s nice.
13. ONSEN (Hot springs bath)!!!
I can’t even describe how much I love Onsen. Hotels also have some of the nicest (and usually FREE) Onsen in Japan. Rather than paying 300yen – 700yen each trip, I go by the onsen two-three times a day and just soak.
It feels great. Onsen is one of my favorite parts of vacation.
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