Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Sleeping in Tokyo

We stayed at the Shibuya Excel Hotel Tokyu, which is obviously in Shibuya. We stayed in Shibuya the last time we went to Tokyo, so we wanted to branch out a little more. We spent more time in Shinjuku this time, but the last thing we wanted to do was go all over the city. There is more than enough to experience for a week in Shibuya and Shinjuku.

The hotel is just outside the JR station. Since it's on top of a shopping mall, you can walk from the station to the hotel without ever setting foot outside. It's a standard business hotel that looks and feels like what you expect from business hotels in Japan, but our room was larger than we expected. We didn't book the cheapest room, because there were two of us, but we didn't book the most expensive room either.

They were supposed to give us two single or double beds, or whatever they want to call it. In East Asia, bed sizes never seem to match what we call them in the United States. I have slept on queen size beds that would be just right for a child. The hotel put us in a room with one king size bed. I don't think it was really king size, but it was big enough. Fortunately, Lily & I are good friends. It could have been awkward if this was a business trip.

Despite the lack of beds, which they were never able to fix, the service at the hotel was everything we expected from a business hotel in Japan. The housekeeping ninjas kept the room immaculate. We never saw them, but they were obviously there.

In parts of China, housekeeping will knock on your door day or night. Whenever they are cleaning rooms, they will come to your room. It doesn't matter if you have that do not disturb sign on your door or if they know you're in there, if they're doing your floor right now, they're coming. I've dealt with a few people who were confused by the lock on the door who didn't seem to understand why they couldn't get in and I've had them knock on my door at six o'clock in the morning. I'm usually awake, but I can't imagine everyone else is. Even if they don't try to get into your room while you're in it, you will definitely see those housekeeping carts in the hallway. More often than not, they block the hall and you need to move them just to walk to the elevator.

In Tokyo, we never even saw the carts. They were obviously there when we were out, but we didn't keep anything close to a regular schedule. We came and went at random and were prone to going back to the room in the middle of the day. It didn't matter what time it was. No one was ever around. But the room was always cleaned.

Breakfast was included with our room, but we only ate it once. It wasn't bad for a hotel breakfast, but we were surrounded by food. Why eat something average when you have some of the best food in the world just outside your door? Sure, it's free – or at least included in the price – but if you're pinching pennies, Tokyo might not be for you.

The bathroom wasn't as modern as we expected, but it had the standard electronic toilet that gives every trip to Japan that little something extra. I was actually glad they haven't renovated the bathroom recently. Whenever they do, they'll probably put in one of those window walls that every hotel in China seems to have now. I like windows, but I want to use them to see what's outside, not to see what my roommate is doing in the bathroom. Not everyone who stays in a hotel is a couple, and not every couple wants to watch each other on the toilet. I know enough Chinese people who agree with me on that one. I'm hoping the Japanese feel the same way.

One of my favorite things about this hotel was the view. Cleanliness and comfort are far more important, but in Japan, your room is going to be clean. That's a given. This hotel was 20 or so floors above a shopping mall, which itself was several floors, so most rooms have good views of the neighborhood. Since our room faced north, we had a great view of the Shibuya crossing, Yoyogi Park and downtown Shinjuku. The last time we were in Tokyo, we stayed in an apartment, so we had views of the neighboring buildings. This time, we had a postcard view from a large window. There are a million hotels in Tokyo, but I wouldn't mind staying at this one next time.

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