I asked myself this question a numerous times before I left.
I am a planner - so I bought guides, browsed blogs, spoke and wrote to everyone I knew who had spent time in Japan and had a small dream about maybe spending a night at the Park Hyatt Tokyo. Because well it was my lost in translation trip - after all. I had a strict budget but unfortunately I have in my older years turned into a hotel facist.
Which made this matter even more difficult. When I have traveled for work or on holidays. I always avoid the big impersonal, overpriced chains. I don't care for room service, big mostly very impersonal rooms bore me to death. I don't want a bathrobe or a tub of my own - I want personality and well though through design. I loved the Mama Shelter in Paris - free movies, Kiehls product in the bathroom and pizza room service - what is there not to like? I adore Sub Karaköy in Istanbul where they greet me with my name when I enter and ask if I want some chai. They even cook me a sandwhich at 1 in the morning after a very long day with meetings. It has become my home in Istanbul after numerous business trips there. The Excelsior in Thessaloniki is a dream. Exactly what you feel like - and teh breakfast is amazing. If you ever have to spend time in Budapest which I do not recommend the only way to survive is booking Gerloczy. Completely perfect. Free minibar - a burlesque - very velvet heavy feel and simply so true to what I hope used to be Hungary.
I also don't share my hotel favourites with everyone - so count yourself lucky :)
You guys might be thinking why not Airbnb - well since I didn't want to risk having to spend time with someone I didn't feel comfortable with for almost two weeks and what I found for a single person was either huge and expensive or in the wrong neighborhood.
The neighborhood is another thing - how too choose? Because Tokyo is so big you will spend time on transportation either way and I didn't really mind this. So I started to search for small, design and boutique hotels. Only to learn that Japan are not famous for their boutique hotels. I wrote to the few I found - which were already booked. I wrote to a small family run bed and breakfast thing I had been recommended but they were also booked. Bear in mind I was like 3 month ahead - so I was thinking that I didn't have to rush. Finally I stumbled on this quirky website - Kangaroo Hotel. The website hadn't been updated or so it seamed for quite some time. But I wrote them and fell in love with them. They were helpful, sweet and seemed like the perfect match. And they were so cheap. It was in a complete opposite area than what I had planned but that turned out to be just perfect.
The room was tiny ! Shared bathrooms - but super clean. I loved the functional design and the room had just what I needed. A clean bed, a fridge, a window, concrete walls with muji hangers and aircon and the staff was so helpfull and nice. They translated small notes to sign language and drew maps for me. My perfect base for two weeks by myself. I could hang out in my room if I felt like being on my own or sit in their over crowded - not so minimalist lobby and listen to them play some of the zillion instruments. The area was authentic - with a bunch of typical japanese middle class houses. Good public transportation connections and 7/11 on every 2nd. corner. AN amazing traditional Japanese coffee roaster as well - so it was all I could have asked for.
For the few days I was spending on Kyoto - I just left my big bags at the small Hotel and packed a back pack. This was so nice - and the two days at the 9 hour hotel - with their design cubicles was amazing.
So different - in the middle of booming shopping and skyscraper on one side - if you walked down the other side it was traditional Japanese wooden houses and just around the corner this amazing food court. My designer heart pounded - I could absolutely imagine living like this on a permanent base.
If you ever get the chance - try it out.
So relaxing to sleep in your own hub ! Where only light awakes you. Sorry though for the poor American girl who did not understand the concept and refused to leave her bag at the reception - luggage spot. She didn't get to experience what was my best night sleep in my life I think. So pretty - felt like sleeping inside a Muji store.
Kangaroo Hotel - Link here.
9 Hour Hotel - Link here.
Get a nice insight view of the 9hour hotel with this monocle report. It is just as amazing as you imagine it.