Thursday, April 16, 2015

Japan Without Sushi - Part 2

On Hotels

Keio Plaza Hotel, Tokyo

This hotel exceeded my expectation. It has very good location next to Shinjuku train station, shops, eateries and Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building (which provides free access to its two observatories at level 45).

The room was impeccable - spacious, with king-size bed, long wooden desk, impressive Japan-standard toilet seat, branded toiletries and yukata. Among the toiletries were the non-standard items like bath cloth, hairbands and L'occitane effervescent revitalizing sugar cube.

It's our first time enjoying Japanese standard in a hotel, and we were truly impressed. We were attended by 2 bellboys who carried our luggage, showed us to our rooms and explained to us the various things in the room. All this happened although the hotel was quite crowded at the time when we arrived. Both check-in and check-out process were smooth.

Keio Plaza Hotel, Tokyo

Hotel New Century, Fujikawaguchiko

We chose this hotel because it's the only one left with most affordable rate in the area. The hotel looked quite old, but it's well maintained. There were 2 types of room: Japanese and Western. We stayed in Japanese rooms, where beds (futons) were made in the evening before bedtime. During which, the table and chairs would be pushed aside.

Bathroom, toilet and sink were all in different places, small but clean and functional, except for the light bulb above the sink. Tea sets (cups and green tea), bottled mineral water and glasses were provided. Too bad there's no electric kettle in the room - only a flask full of hot water was given on daily basis.

New Century Hotel, Fujikawaguchiko

View from our room

The hotel has 2 public onsen, one for male and the other for female. The allocation between male and female alternated, we had to check the schedule to find out where we're supposed to go on a given day and time.

I tried it once and I felt so awkward, totally not used to the idea of communal bath. Basically we stripped down and placed our clothes in the basket, then brought a small piece of clothes inside the bathing area. Then we took a light shower by sitting down. Once clean, we dipped ourselves into the hot big water tub. After around 15 mins, we finished off by taking another round of shower and then went back to the clothes outside.

Essential stuff for showers were provided in the onsen: soap, shampoo, facial wash, comb, hair dryer, body lotion. We only needed to bring a set of clothes to change - or we could also bring and wear the yukata provided in the room.

What's unique about this hotel, when checking in, we were asked the height of the children, so that they could provide the right sized yukata for them.

View of Lake Kawaguchi

View around the hotel
Service in this hotel was superb. They fetched us from the main train station, and also ferried us to the station again after check-out. The staff asked where we wanted to go, and offered advice, even giving out discount vouchers for the town's attractions.

The Westin, Osaka

Loved this hotel. Although the room was not that big, it's of the comfortable size, with huge window overlooking the river, bridges, and also the nearby Umeda Sky Building. Without us asking, they provided additional single bed, which was a really nice touch. Oh, but we had to ask for kids' toiletries pack, though - a cute bag containing wash cloth, room slipper, toothbrush and toothpaste.

I loved the bathroom too. It's spacious and luxurious with his-and-her basins, separated from the bathroom area containing bathtub, shower cubicle and toilet. They provided pajamas and yukatas. And they were very, very generous with the toiletries.

Fabulous view from our room

The Westin was located within walking distance from Osaka train station, but we always took shuttle bus to and fro, which was run efficiently with 10-15 mins frequency.

Next to the hotel there was a small park with small playground. There were a few sakura trees there, already blooming. Too bad most of the time we were in the city, it was cold and raining, making the playground to lose its appeal.

A small park next to the hotel

There was also a small garden at the back of the hotel, with lush greenery.

Around the hotel - a garden and Umeda Sky Building

Sheraton Grande Tokyo Bay, Tokyo

Surprisingly, compared to Keio Plaza and The Westin, Sheraton was not up to standard, and I am not talking about Japanese standard here. It wasn't anything bad, but I expected more from a five star hotel.

We stayed in level 8, where almost everything was decorated with their mascot, the 'S' penguin. The bed covers, the pictures on the walls, the room doors and the bathroom tiles were decorated with penguins. Our room was facing the bay, overlooking the hotel's pretty gardens and chapels.

When we checked in, there was no bellboy helping us to get our luggage to our rooms. And I found only one bottle of mineral water provided. Our friend from level 9 told us they got 3 bottles so I called and asked for 2 more. The following days, 2 new bottles were placed in the room, where our friends always got 3. It looked like they have no standard to follow. I was quite sure it should be 3 instead of 2, seeing that there were 3 cups and 3 yukatas in the room.

One nice thing, they put the kids' toiletries without being asked. It was a nice penguin small bag, that contained the penguin itself, 2 toothbrushes, a small cup and a bottle of soap. During 3 nights of our stay there, we got 2 bags. I don't understand the logic.. I thought it should be either 1 pack or 3 packs. But I didn't bother to check.

I loved the hotel's well manicured garden. It had 2 chapels as well, but too bad we didn't get to explore the glass chapel as it was raining when we had the time to spare. Overlooking the bay, it sure will look gorgeous for photo taking.

There's a small shopping arcade next to the main entrance, where we could get some Disney merchandises and also day-to-day stuff like bread, drinks and other tidbits.

View from our room

Around the hotel

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