It’s different when there’s just two of you traveling together vis a vis traveling in a group of four. A 30-square meter apartment or hotel room might seem large for two people but for four, I knew it was bound to get cramped. It took me a long time to find the right accommodations in Kyoto and Osaka. One turned out to be a good choice; the other, not so much.
Kyosakura, a ryokan (inn) about three kilometers from Kyoto Station, has everything to make guests comfortable. HG Cozy Hotel No. 35 in Osaka should be avoided.
I booked Kyosakura via Airbnb. I knew the location was not central but it has three bedrooms, a complete kitchen, a dining area, living area, a washing machine and a private bath. The price was also very reasonable for a place that we had all to ourselves.
Sure, we had a hell of a time locating it at (almost) midnight on the day we flew in from Manila. But after that initial hurdle, we did enjoy every minute of our stay there.
It wasn’t just the basic things. It was also the little touches. Several maps to navigate Kyoto. Tourist guides for recommended spots to to visit. Brochures of restaurants. There were all placed conspicuously at the coffee table. There was a rack for hanging coats. An espresso machine. Ground coffee. Tea. A cordless vacuum cleaner. Air-conditioners that were also heaters (we found that amazing). A toilet with heated toilet seat and push button bidet. And every inch was squeaky clean.
I understand that for many travelers, booking accommodations is just about making sure that there’s a place to crash in at the end of the day. But Kyosakura was more than a place to sleep for us.
We played cards at night. And because the place was so comfortable, we weren’t always too eager to eat out. There were times when we were quite content to order take-out or even just buy food from the nearby convenience stores and eat leisurely — seated on the floor, Japanese-style, even though there was a dining table with four chairs. Oh, I don’t know why… Maybe because those cushions on the floor and that round coffee table were just so inviting that we spent many happy hours there. Chatting, drinking tea or coffee, playing cards…
Because there were no guests checking in on the day we were moving to Osaka, our host said we could have have a late check-out. And that really meant a world of difference for us. Instead of rushing about to be out of the ryokan by 11.00 a.m., we took our time eating breakfast, enjoying a second cup of coffee, showering and getting dressed.
We really couldn’t ask for more.
On the other hand, our stay at HG Cozy Hotel No. 35 in Osaka was not as comfortable.
HG Cozy Hotel No. 35
I booked HG Cozy Hotel No. 35. via Booking.com. Three bedrooms. Balconies. Kitchen. Washing machine. A toilet with push button bidet. Walking distance to Namba, Dotonbori, Kuromon Market and Kitchenware Street. Not expensive. And I thought: could anything be better?
That was the condition of the unit when we opened the front door with our key. To say that we were in shock would be an understatement. We were tired. We had taken the train from Kyoto to Osaka, I had to get the keys by walking to another building and that was what greeted us.
Although we had Japan SIM cards, they were data only so I couldn’t call customer service which was definitely NOT located in the same building. In fact, there was no employee in the building at all. I sent an email. But you know how emails are. You’re never really sure how often they are checked and we were panicking already. What if emails were checked only in the morning, how in the world were we going to sleep in that place?
We needed help. Before we entered the building minutes earlier, we already noticed that there was a restaurant on the ground floor (and I already commented that I wanted to eat there). Alex and I went there while Speedy and Sam stayed at the room. The nice lady at the restaurant spoke no English and I was at a loss about how to explain that we needed a phone to call the hotel people. Then, she did something that really surprised me. She asked one of the customers, a young man eating his dinner, to talk to us. Apparently, he was a regular so the restaurant people knew he could understand English.
To make a long story short, we got the help we needed. We weren’t customers of the restaurant but we were taken care of. We weren’t even obliged to order anything. We were just given the assistance that we so badly needed. After I finally got to talk to the hotel people using the nice young man’s phone, we thanked him, apologized for interrupting his dinner, and the nice restaurant lady as well who did everything she could for us. Such lovely, lovely people!
I’ll never know who messed up with our reservations at HG Cozy Hotel No. 35 and why the room wasn’t ready when we got there. I’ll just reproduce here the review I gave them at Booking.com.
The room had not been cleaned after the last guests checked out. The property owner did give us another room — a bigger one, in fact — for one night but it wasn’t really very clean either. Kitchen faucet was greasy (I had to scrub it with the sponge I found there which obviously had already been used), there were bits of cooked rice on the kitchen counter and food receipts left by previous guests were under the dining table.
When we moved to our original accommodation a day later after it had been cleaned, we discovered that there was no bidet toilet seat (there was one in the photos on booking.com), the beds were lumpy (two cushions pushed together and the edges were really hard), and one foot of the dining table was wobbly (always threatening to bring the entire table down). Although there was a vacuum cleaner, there were strict instructions not to use it (property did not provide daily cleaning).Source
We survived seven nights at HG Cozy Hotel No. 35. It wasn’t the best experience, the absence of a bidet toilet seat as respresented on Booking.com was especially a pain in the ass but it was still a huge thing that we could walk to so many places. There was more than one occasion though when the girls wished we could have (magically) transported Kyosaruka to Osaka then everything would have been perfect. Oh, how I wished too!
Did we ever get to try the food at the restaurant on the ground floor of the building? Oh, yes, and it was MARVELLOUS. Sichuan food, as it turned out. But that’s for another post.