If you are traveling on a budget in Japan and wondering how to find cheap hotels, then business hotels are an excellent option. Japanese business hotels occupy an inexpensive but comfortable middle ground between pricey accommodation options such as tourist hotels and luxury ryokan inns, and extremely cheap but basic options such as pods in capsule hotels, booths in internet cafés, and bunks in hostel dormitories. At very reasonable rates business hotels will provide you with your own private room, a comfy bed, and a private bathroom, plus access to all the facilities necessary for a short trip away from home. Originally designed with business travelers in mind, these hotels are becoming increasingly popular with solo travelers, couples, and even family groups. If you plan on spending most of your trip outdoors exploring and sightseeing, then having a business hotel as your base is ideal.
Most business hotels offer single, double, and twin bed rooms with room rates typically ranging between 6,000 and 12,000 yen per night depending on the size of the room, the location, and the time of travel (weekends and holidays are more expensive).
Typical business hotel rooms are very compact, but spotlessly clean and have their own attached private bathroom with a toilet, and a bathtub with a shower attachment. In the bathroom you can expect to find lots of free amenities including shampoo, conditioner, soap, tooth brushes with toothpaste, disposable razors, hair brushes, and cotton buds and pads. The rooms though small, are packed with everything you need including air-conditioning/heating, a TV, a mini-refrigerator, a desk and chair, a telephone, a kettle with free tea and coffee making facilities, nightwear, slippers, and a hair dryer.
Free wired and/or wireless internet access is provided in guest rooms and there is usually free Wi-Fi in the hotel’s public areas too.
Facilities & Services
Business hotels are often described with the term “no frills”. This means small rooms, no room service, and obviously you wouldn’t expect a gym or a swimming pool. However, they do have a number of regular features that will make your stay both comfortable and convenient.
- Depending on the location, business hotel staff may or may not be able to speak English, but they are unfailingly polite and helpful. Some hotels have automatic machines for checking in and out, but there are always some staff on hand to show you how to use them.
- A very simple but filling breakfast is usually available which may include both Western and Japanese dishes, and plenty of coffee and juice.
- Many hotels have computers and printers available for guests to use in the lobby area. Some hotels also have laptop computers that you can rent by the night.
- There is almost always a self-service laundry room with coin-operated washing machines and dryers, as well as vending machines for both soft drinks and alcoholic beverages. Sometimes vending machines for snacks and cup noodles are also provided. Another common feature is a common-use microwave oven which you can use to heat up snacks and noodles bought at the nearest convenience store.
- As it is a business hotel, trouser presses and ironing equipment are usually available to borrow for free.
- Safety and security is a common feature of these hotels. Usually rooms are accessed by a digital card key, and very often this key is also needed to operate the hotel elevator. For solo travelers in particular, this extra element of security will grant some peace of mind.
There are a large number of business hotel chains that have branches all over Japan and always provide a reliable service. Here is small selection of the most popular chains:
- Toyoko Inn are very cheap and offer a free breakfast. All rooms have their own humidifier and trouser press.
- Daiwa Roynet are strong on security and also offer ladies-only rooms which are stocked with special facilities such as facial steamers and foot massage machines.
- Dormy Inn hotels have an on-site communal spa usually with natural hot spring waters and rooftop outdoor baths. This chain also offers free noodles to snack on in the evenings.
- Super Hotel branches are another cheap option with a free breakfast and hotel branches often have their own on-site spa.
- Tokyu Stay hotels have the distinction of providing a washing machine/dryer and a microwave oven in every guest room. And some rooms even have portable cooking hobs and other basic cooking utensils.
Location & Booking
Whether you are looking for cheap hotels in major cities such as Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya, and Kyoto or in smaller cities and towns, business hotels are easy to find and are usually located conveniently close to a railway station. All of the chains above can be booked via popular online travel booking websites or directly through their own websites. It is a good idea to compare the rates on different sites to ensure that you get the best deal.