Posts Tagged business hotel
My parents and I spent our afternoon exploring the magnificent Himeji Castle, and then headed to Osaka to check into our hotel. I had booked us rooms in the Park Hotel Rinkai, an inexpensive business hotel where I had stayed last year. It’s not the fanciest hotel, but it’s centrally located and inexpensive.
Park Hotel Rinkai is easily accessible from two different stations on the Osaka subway. The problem is that I couldn’t remember which exit to use, and we ended up wandering around for some time trying to find our way with street maps, my fuzzy memory, and some good old fashioned guessing.
We did eventually find the hotel, and checked in at the same time as a large group of middle aged Asian women. After checking in, we jammed into a tiny elevator filled with short, chatty women. We were at the back wall of the elevator, so I needed someone to press the buttons for us.
“すみません、１０回のブタンを押してください” (Please push the button for 10th floor) I said politely. This got no reaction. Figuring that they might not have heard me over their conversation I repeated myself slightly louder and more clearly. The woman closest to the elevator turned to me and responded in English “Sorry, not Japan, Korea. Korea.”
I responded with the only phrase I know in Korean. “Annyeong haseyo! (Hello) Please push 10”. This got the desired response, and a good laugh from the Korean ladies in the elevator.
I had tried to warn my parents that the hotel rooms were going to be small. I think they were expecting Canada small and not Japan small. They were shocked to see the tiny rooms that I had booked us into. Their room had two single beds (my dad snores like a rusty chainsaw), with barely enough room for their tiny suitcases. My room was so small that the three of us could barely fit inside at the same time, and we are all small people!
I remembered the hotel being fairly quiet the last time, however I didn’t have a tour bus full of excited middle aged women on vacation staying there at the time. Our fellow guests were up late chatting, singing, and generally enjoying themselves. I have now added “middle aged Korean women” to my list of fun people to party with in the future.
After spending the afternoon exploring Himeji castle, I returned to the station to catch a train to Osaka. The station area is an interesting contrast to the massive 400 year old castle that dominates the view. All of the buildings are big and blocky. There is an interesting mix of office buildings, fast food restaurants, hostess bars and kimono shops.
I was happy to get back on the train and off my feet for a while. I took a Tokaido line rapid train to Osaka, which took about an hour. I could have also taken the shinkansen, but I would have spent more and only saved about 15 minutes.
Osaka station is HUGE. The station area combines both Osaka station and Umeda station. It serves over 2 million passengers each day, and is one of the top 5 busiest train stations in the world. I managed to navigate my way through Osaka station into the connected Umeda subway station to catch a train towards my hotel.
I had made an online reservation at Park Hotel Rinkai, an inexpensive business hotel in central Osaka. The online reservation explained that the hotel was close to two different subway stations. This statement was true, however the subway stations themselves were connected together in a sprawling underground maze. Navigating a confusing subway station after a full day of exploring a castle is difficult. I went to street level and found that all of the buildings looked very similar. This combined with no street names made locating the hotel an exercise in frustration. After about 30 minutes and several creative uses of four letter words, I finally found it thanks to street maps and some luck.
I booked the hotel both for the location and the cost. My single room was only 5800 yen (about $58) per night. This seemed like a good deal for being centrally located in Japan’s second largest city. I checked in using Japanese (the staff didn’t speak English at all), and went to my room. At this point I realized why the room only cost 5800 yen – it was TINY. The room was about the same size as my single dorm room at the University of Manitoba. There was a single bed, a desk, and a tiny bathroom that somehow jammed a toilet, sink, and deep bathtub / shower into a space better suited as a closet.
Despite being small, the room was clean, fairly quiet, and well equipped. Also, it really was close to the train station if you knew the correct exit number. The TV had regular local channels, but for 1000 yen I could buy a “movie card” at a vending machine near the elevator that would allow free unlimited access to all the movies for 24 hours. And when I say all the movies, I mean ALL the movies. There were brochures that gave hints to the different options available. Watching them all in 24 hours would have been impossible.
On a likely unrelated note, there was a sign on the TV indicating that I could order an in room massage by calling the front desk. I looked at the English translation of the hotel guide for details (always read the hotel guide to find where the nearest fire exit is), and the guide explained that yes, a masseuse could be ordered. I am going to assume it was a real massage, and not a “massage”. The bigger question is how could anyone get a massage in a hotel room that tiny.
By this point it was still before 8:00pm. I changed clothes and headed back out to the subway station to seek out an attraction from my guidebook – The Umeda Sky Building. The building is famous for its design: it looks like a table on top of two glass towers. There is a glass elevator from ground level to the 35th floor, and a glass walled escalator takes you up to the 39th floor. A glass walled escalator is an interesting experience, especially at night when the city it lit up. Not recommended for those afraid of heights.
The escalator lets you off at the 39th floor, which offers amazing 360 degree views of Osaka. It’s also possible to go up to the rooftop “floating garden” for an open air view of the city. Unfortunately it was raining at the time, so I didn’t spent much time on the rooftop. If you like unique buildings or tall places with a good city view, Umeda Sky building is a cool place for both in Osaka.
I spent a long time looking out the windows at Osaka before finally deciding to call it a night and head back towards my hotel, and towards a long overdue dinner.
(2015 Note) Unfortunately Park Hotel Rinkai has closed permanently. It was a good, inexpensive place to stay in Osaka. I ended up staying there 2 more times before moving back to Canada.
On July 16 the wife was going to visit an old friend in Odawara. I was going to catch up on some internet time, and then meet up with her at Odawara station at 5:00pm. From there we were going to Tokyo for the night. Since we were planning on looking around Akihabara, I booked a business hotel not too far away.
During the day, the in-laws took me out to their favourite curry restaurant in Numazu. Japanese curry is like a stew with meat and veggies in a rich delicious sauce, naturally served with rice. The restaurant’s lunch special was beef curry, salad, dessert and a soft drink for 980 yen. After taking one bite I could understand why the in-laws liked this place – it was one of the best Japanese curries I have ever eaten. Rich, creamy and a little spicy. Yum!
I took the regular Tokaido line from Numazu to Odawara, giving me an hour to read (always bring a book). I met The Wife and we got a ticket for the Romance Car to Shinjuku. Unlike my experience a few days earlier, this Romance Car had no children running up and down the aisles. In Shinjuku we followed the signs to the subway line. Subway signs in Tokyo can be very misleading. Sometimes you will see a sign that indicates that the subway entrance is just up ahead, but what they really mean is just up ahead after 500 meters of tunnels and probably a few flights of stairs.
After waiting for a very rare train delay that featured continuous updates and apologies from the good people at TOEI subway, we made a quick subway ride across Tokyo with one transfer and got out at Kuramae station. Our reservation was at APA Hotel Asakusa Kuramae, which described itself as close to the station. In previous experience, “close” to the station could be anything from right outside the station entrance to a 15 minute walk down unnamed side streets. Fortunately this hotel was, in fact, actually close to the station, and cross from a 7-11 as an added bonus.
We checked in and went to our “double room” to drop off our bags. I have stayed in business hotels in Tokyo and Osaka before, and they are usually very small. However, this was, in fact, the SMALLEST hotel room I have ever seen, not counting my stay in a Capsule Hotel (story to come in the future). It was literally too small to take proper pictures. The main room space was about 2 meters square. It had a bed just smaller than queen size and a small desk. Under the desk was a small fridge that you could probably fit 3 beers in. A flat screen TV was mounted on the wall. The Wife and I were both traveling with backpacks, which went on top of the “desk”. There was literally no place for a suitcase if we had one.
The bathroom was one of those ubiquitous all in one units that can be found in small Japanese hotels. It was a molded plastic one piece unit with a toilet, small sink, and small, deep bathtub. A dial on the sink distributed the water between the shower and the sink, but not both at the same time. I am not a tall person (about 170cm or 5’7 for you Americans), and I was able to stand and put my hand flat on the ceiling.
For the record, there are “normal” size hotel rooms in Tokyo. You just have to be willing to pay much more for them. Our room cost 9400 yen for one night, breakfast included. It was close to popular tourist areas and a one minute walk from the Tokyo Metro. Like most business hotels it was a clean and quiet place to sleep, and nothing else. For 1000 yen extra we could have watched the entire catalog of PPV movies until checkout time. Don’t get me wrong – the room was okay, it was just really, really small. Hobbit small.
Once we got over the hotel shock, we went back to the station and made our way to Akihabara. Our late dinner was at Gyu-Kaku, a yakiniku restaurant where you cook at your own table. We stuffed ourselves on beef, pork, chicken, scallops, and a few veggies as well. If you are in Japan and like meat, eat at Gyu-Kaku. You will not regret it. English menus are available!
We rolled ourselves out of Gyu-Kaku and took a quick walk around the station planning out our shopping for the following day. During weekends in the daytime, Akihabara is packed with people and is difficult to move around. Tuesday evenings are not very lively, so we had a unique experience of being able to wander around without bumping into people everywhere. Despite being a fairly quiet, slow night in Akihabara, we were well aware that we were in Japan’s geek paradise, full of anime stores, video games, maid cafes, model shops, and porn porn porn everywhere. Seriously, so much porn.
At this point the food and long day started to kick in, and we returned to the hotel. We got into the bed only to discover that our “bed” was actually futon on a frame and not a mattress. I had been sleeping on a thin futon on the floor at the in-laws house and had been really looking forward to a soft, spring filled mattress. The futon was okay, but was a bit lumpy in places. Since I was less likely to get up in the middle of the night for the bathroom, I had to sleep against the wall. There was almost no space between the foot of the bed and the wall, so the only way I could have gotten out of bed was by crawling over The Wife, or by waking her up and making her move. Fortunately for both of us I was asleep within minutes of my head hitting the pillow and didn’t move until morning.
As I drifted off into sleep, I found myself, for the first time ever, being thankful that I was not a tall man.