If I remember, one time in the evening just few hours before I flew to Singapore last year, Winda was the one who tried to find me a hotel. Judge me lackadaisical, I don’t mind.
“How could you travel to another country and never reserve one room?”
I sat down looking at Winda and Ayos with some sushies that night like a sleepy koala. Wondering why I wanted to have vacation but never had a place to sleep. When Winda found some affordable
what affordable if we talk about Singapore? hotels, I said please do. At least, I had a room even Winda booked only for one night and thought I could find some cheaper ones when I got there. I arrived in the morning in Singapore and went straight to the hotel after I got my MRT card. Checking in and went straight to my room and realised I would stay with a bed just few inches from the door. My room was so small, compare with the price I paid, it made me sounds like a jackass right now. I had to extend one more night with higher rate cause I didn’t look for another hotel and it made my expenses went crazy. Till the last night in Singapore, I and my travel companion, Maya, decided to move to a nice hostel somewhere at China Town. We had our own room with separate beds of course. The bathroom is inside so we didn’t need to share with other travelers. Lesson learned.
Two months before I travelled back to Indonesia, almost every night I looked for hotels and hostels for my Japan trip. I didn’t realise that looking for where I would stay was such a treat
esp if I looked at some five stars hotels in Paris, sigh!. There was so many interesting hotels in Tokyo and Kyoto, but my heart said ‘try hostel’ instead.
“First, I could save money cause hotels in Tokyo is expensive. I could get a small room (yes, very small room!) for more than $100. Second, a whole day I won’t be in my room, so why I have to spend more money if what I needed was a bed in the night? and third, I got a bonus by staying in hostel (I’ll tell you later!).
Now, you can see that I’ve learned a lot how to spend money from my Singapore trip”
A day before I applied my Japan visa, I had to update my hostels since I changed my duration of stay both in Tokyo and Kyoto. And this is another tips for you guys, checking the rate on booking.com days before you fly, you may get a lower price if you’re lucky. So, don’t lay on one price. As long as you have enough time for free cancellation, it’s okay to look at the rate. I could save more than $70 dollars from two hostels I picked, it was good right?
My decision to stay in a hostel when I was in Japan was so right. I felt it when I spent two days in Tokyo. I went to places a whole day and came back around 10-11 pm everyday. So what I really needed was a place to sleep. And the third reason why hostel such a best choice was I got new friends! For a person who tried hostel for the first time like me, that was another experience. By staying in hostel, you’ll get an opportunity to meet with new people around the world. I didn’t say that you have to know all of them, but if you’re lucky, you’ll get new ‘good’ friends which hopefully, you’ll meet them in another place somewhere on this earth. Who knows? You just need to make friend sincerely and keep in touch, right? (I’ll share some of them on another post! :))
So here are a short review of two hostels I stayed in Tokyo and Kyoto. I personally put these two as recommended hostels in Japan!
GRIDS HOSTEL & LOUNGE AKIHABARA
I learned so much about my hotel in Singapore. When you choose a place to stay, you have to think your access to move around. A hotel/hostel that near train station is always a good idea. It will make your movement so much easier. Of course, you must think about the rate. Also, read the reviews from other travelers who used to stay there on booking.com or other sites.
The main reason why I chose Grids Hostel & Lounge Akihabara was near two major stations and their reception can speak English very well, I think this is important too since you know most of Japanese can not speak English. I graduated from design school, so if I have to choose a place to stay I’ll always choose boutique hotel/hostel, of course!. Grids has that industrial look, the design is fine, not too heavy yet appropriate. The review I read on booking.com was good, too. It’s not a secret that Japanese is extremely neat and clean, and this hostel has that point. The bed, the bathroom, the lobby, everything is clean. I had no complain about the cleanness. Maybe only the size of the cube is quite small for me (since I chose POD “bed”) so I had to manage to move on my bed without making noise. If you travel with your friends I recommend to choose ryokan or premium room, you’ll definitely feel more comfortable. But if you want to save more and have no problem with sound of snoring (from other traveler :D!), pod bed is not a bad thing.
Here are some iPhone pictures of the Grids Hostel & Lounge Akihabara that I took just before I said bye-bye to Tokyo. I spent two nights there before I moved to Kyoto, and spent three nights when I came from Kyoto.
At Grids, I met with two good friends (three actually, but hmm, let’s count two only! – will write about them on a separate post) that still in touch until now :)
THE LOWER EAST NINE HOSTEL
In Kyoto, I fell in love. The first time I arrived at Kyoto station and took a train to the next station, Kujo station, I said “I love Kyoto more than Tokyo”. I love city life but Kyoto stole my heart. Maybe because my interest in Japanese culture is stronger than its ‘bling-bling’ life.
I arrived in the afternoon and went straight to The Lower East Nine to drop my things before I went to Nishiki market. When I entered the hostel I loved the space, so much. Again, boutique hostel will always be my choice. And to be honest, this one was so much better than the one in Tokyo. I love everything about this hostel. I love the design, the space, the bed is bigger! so I could sleep more comfortable, the bathroom is more private! and sure very clean!, and what I love the most that it has a kitchen and living room upstairs. Living room is such a brilliant idea where you can relax and meet with other travelers and have a conversation, sharing your stories and experiences when you get back from your ‘a-whole-day-exploring-Kyoto’. Kitchen upstairs is a good idea too when you can brew your own coffee, or making a bowl of hot noodles when it’s raining outside, or you just want to stare at the window with a cup of green tea in your hand.
If my hostel in Tokyo is for men-only or women-only in one room, The Lower East Nine is the opposite. Boys and girls can stay in the same room, this is not a bad thing as long as you can behave, right?
Staying two nights in this hostel made me met with Joe, Svewn, two young ladies from UK (I forgot their names :|), and Simon, he is a German. I’ll share how I met them on separate post :).
Here are some iPhone pictures I took on my second day in Kyoto.
“being a tourist with manner is important, staying in a hostel with manner, too”
I know I repeated the sentence above from my previous post. Staying in a hostel with manner it is very important, why? Because the room is not only yours! the bathroom is not yours also! So, we must have awareness and understanding to keep the public area well and behave, too. I thanked God when I stayed in those two hostels I had no experience meeting ‘drunker-traveler’ when I wanted to close my eyes at night, but seriously, when I found underwear wasn’t in place where it should be, hairs on the sink (you should clean it after shaving!), or using a hair-dryer in the middle of the night without closing the bathroom’s door? That was not nice! :)
But overall, I recommend you guys who travel alone by staying in a hostel. Pick the good one that fits with your budget, enjoy your stay, make friends as many as you can (this is good to expand your networking in the future, but pick who can be your good friends!).
You can spend your money more by enjoying proper food when you’re in vacation right? or new outfits? or even, experience a proper fine dining at five-star hotel? :)