Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Best Hotel Value in Tokyo

The Sunshine City Prince Hotel in Ikebukuro, Tokyo is by far the best value for a lodging when staying in Tokyo.  Last year I took a vacation in Tokyo, my flight was comped by work so all I had to worry about was finding a place to stay.  I've always heard that Tokyo is an insanely expensive place to stay, and I was dreading what I would find when it came to finding a hotel.  

The first thing I did was hit the Internet to see what it said about "Budget Traveling in Tokyo."  Most sites pointed to either Hostels, for which I'm too old to stay in, and "Love Hotels."  Love Hotels are Ubiquitous part of Asian Culture in General.  They are exactly what they say, hotels designed and priced for quick trysts between consenting adults.  In Japan they are cleaner than most "Hot Sheet" hotels in other parts of the world.  Though cheap, for me it was difficult to accept staying in these types of hotels for an entire vacation.  The other option that he "Budget Travel" sites suggested was bumming it at McDonald's or Internet Cafes.  Most McDonald's are open 24 Hours in Tokyo.  It seems that it's fairly common to find, especially American, backpackers there in the wee hours of the morning catching some sleep.  Sleeping in Internet Cafes is actually fairly common even amongst the Japanese.  Commonly you rent one of the Internet Booths and sleep there, but some do  have Cots for Rent.  

The Last Option that came to mind was obviously the commonly referenced "Capsule Hotel."  Sleeping at a Capsule Hotel is one of those things that "You have to do" when you go to Japan.  Unfortunately like "Love Hotels" they usually only rent by the Hour and the Night and are do not provide extended reservations.  In other words, no place to keep you stuff.  

I decided then that I'd take a gamble and see what the various travel sites had to offer in terms of regular hotels.  So I did my search for the dates I wanted, sorted by price, and to my surprise at the top of the list was a Room for two for $98 a night.  I was amazed, Tokyo is suppose to be expensive.  I did some research into the hotel, The Sunshine City Prince Hotel.  The reviews were good, most of the comments on the various travel sites gave it 4-5 stars.  So I took a deep breath and clicked order on 10 nights at the hotel.  Looking back it was a great decision, and really was the best value I could have possibly found.  

The Sunshine City Prince Hotel is located, somewhat obviously, in the Giant Sunshine City mall in Ikebukuro.  Ikebukruo is derided by many as Old or Boring, but for an uninitiated foreigner it was everything you could hope to see in Tokyo crammed into one district.  Sunshine City itself is a sight to behold.  I was there for 10 days and still didn't see all of it.  A must see attraction though in the mall is Namja Town; which is a Chucky Cheese style place designed and operated by Namco.  The next point of interest in Ikebukuro is Otome Road which is the main hangout for the "Otome" or Maidens.  Otome is the female equivalent to Otaku.  Otome Road is a small strip of Anime and Manga shops right outside of Sunshine City.  If you blink you'll miss it.  In fact I did.  I looked everywhere for "Otome Road" when I was there, I didn't realized until I got back that I did actually go there.  Crossing under the freeway heading towards the train station you come to an entire street of Arcades and Pachinko Parlours.  Also located in the same area are three more mainstays of Tokyo shopping, Tokyu Hands, the Seibu department store, and the Bic Camera electronics emporium.  Ikebukuro is a fine district, and if you only have one night to stay in Tokyo it's a great place to spend it.  

Of course this article is suppose to be about the Hotel.  It is what is know in Japan as a "Business Hotel." It offers rooms and accommodations, at a value, for traveling Business Men.  As stated above the room costs $98 dollars a night, and for $10 more a night you can get a "Complementary" breakfast.  There are larger rooms available but the cost goes up by leaps and bounds when you go for the larger rooms.  Up front, the $98 room is was small.  Despite it's value, don't get this room unless you get along really well with the person you are staying with. That said it isn't any smaller than the budget rooms on a cruise ship.  You shouldn't be spending that much time in the Hotel anyway.    It had a small full bed, a small TV and an Desk with a wired Internet connection, no wireless.  The Bathroom is serviceable: sink, shower/tub, and an awesome electronic toilet.  I could spend an entire article on the toilet, but rest assured it's awesome.  The hotel itself is only about a half mile from the Ikebukuro train station so access to the rest of the city is fairly easy. 

Whether you are in Tokyo for an entire vacation or for just a short stay, The Sunshine City Price Hotel is a the best value in the city.  Nice room, good access to transportation, and located in a district with plenty to do on it's own.