Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Accommodation: Budget Hotels

Budget accommodation options aren't limited merely to Youth Hostels, sleeping in Internet cafes, sleeping on a stranger's sofa, squeezing into a capsule hotel or finding a love hotel. You can also find yourself a decent bed for the night at some of Japan's budget hotels.

The price can be very reasonable, as can the quality if you pick carefully. Here's a guide to finding good deals.

The thing about a lot of cheap hotels, often referred to as "business hotels" is that they can often be dirty, stink of smoke and be in a poor location. If you're looking for the cheapest option then you may well come across this on a regular basis.

However, there are some low-budget hotel chains that pride themselves on not fitting that stereotype. One company which I've stayed with a couple of time is Toyoko-Inn (English website, though the staff at the hotel may not speak any).
Toyoko has very nice quality, although sometimes small, rooms in business districts all over Japan. The price for a twin or double room is usually at the lower end of 6,000-9,000 yen. Don't expect any stunning views, but I would heartily recommend staying with them. Book ahead.
A one-time 1,500 yen charge will get you a members card entitling you to 30% off future stays.

One last great thing about Toyoko-Inn is that they usually have beer vending machines which have the cheapest prices you will find in Japan! 
Another good chain is the reassuringly-familiar name of Holiday Inn. They have affiliates in many Japanese cities, but prices can get quite high. Expect to pay around 10,000 yen if you're lucky. Prices start from 7,000 in some places, but in others the minimum will be way out of your budget (22,000+).

Sunroute will also sell you a bed for the night for under or around 10,000 yen in many big cities or major locations.

Another option is a booking company, which will scour the net for the cheapest rooms in a given location. They often return some great deals. There are loads of these companies, and I've had good results using (searching for just hotels), and Agoda. Agoda gave me an excellent price, and there were no problems. However, the company often gets bad reviews based on their cancellation policy (they have been known to not return any of your payment if you cancel), so tread carefully.

There are literally hundreds of other booking companies, including international entries on Expedia and A quick search on google for your location will throw up a whole list of them. If you don't mind working your way through some Japanese, is another fantastic site to search for cheap hotel deals in the country.

Know of any other good chains or websites? Let us know in the comments.

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