This is the fourth post on the series of choosing the hotel location – I have covered Rome , Vienna, Hong Kong and Bangkok in my earlier posts. As I have received very positive feedback – the series now continues. Do check out some related links
Malati and I have made numerous leisure trips across the world. With time, experience and a lot of hindsight our hotel selection has become more focused and precise. Which means more comfortable and convenient stays. And it follows of course a more pleasurable holiday and pleasant memories! While price is important the biggest challenge I have faced is in deciding the location of the hotel. In the past, I would have got a good price, and a great deal with lots of add- ons only to find that the hotel is far away from most places I wished to visit and nowhere near public transport. As a result the holiday became a drudge and the simple thought of a long walk to the metro was enough to dampen my spirits even before the day started! However with experience I have evolved a easy process to arrive at the best choice of the location. So lets take a look at these simple steps.
City Centre or Away? This is the first decision point in selecting a hotel location. Do you prefer to stay away from the city center where the hotels are cheaper and then use the savings to pay for expensive local transport or stay in the city center where the hotels are slightly more expensive. I always prefer to stay in the city center as it offers great flexibility in sight seeing and also gives the option of returning to the hotel during the day for a mid afternoon or early evening siesta before setting out for a second round in the evening. Do keep in mind that a well located hotel could offer you an afternoon siesta and two sessions of sight seeing in one day. If you are looking at night life would you like to trudge home in the middle of the night after a happy evening? Availability of transport home and security are issues to consider. In Tokyo also the hotels near the Airport are cheaper but keep in mind that Narita is almost 70 km away. Apart from a costly train or an even expensive taxi ride the time taken to reach city center rules out the possibility of living away from city center almost instantaneously.
The Holiday Plan – Define the broad purpose of your visit? Sightseeing? Shopping? Beaches and landscape? History? Leisure- Lazy hotel stay? Eating ? Tokyo offers you all options – Your broad purpose will lead you to the places of your interest – which is often different from what the tour guides say. it. So if you are a first timer do some research. Some searches on the net for starters are “What are the top 10 things to do in Tokyo’ or ‘Things to do in Tokyo. I found Trip Advisor a great place to start. Lonely Planet is another great site. Do buy a map from one of the online stores, Well worth the expense. Once you have gone through a few web sites you would get a pretty good feel of the city , the distances involved and places to visit in. Enough to create an intelligent short list.
Our own short list in Tokyo would comprise of the Shibuya area with the scramble crossing , Two of the three observation towers -Sky tree, Tokyo Tower and National metropolitan building and the National Museum. Definitely will visit the two main shrines Meiji Jingu and the Sensoji shrine, with a visit to the Imperial palace and some other gardens – Shinjuku Goen and Yoyogi Park , maybe Hamarikyu . Varieties of restaurants, Night life and hole in the wall bars in Golden Gai and Shinjuku restaurant district, High street shopping in Ginza and Harajuku, knick knack shopping at Kappabashi street( kitchenware), electronics at Akihibara (electronic town). Top it off with a cruise down the Sumeda river from Asakusa to Odaiba. Must add at least one kabuki performance. And maybe if I have the time a Sumo wrestling match and an early morning visit to the Tsuzuki fish Auction.
The Visit Plot – Now plot all the places you have shortlisted on a map and you will find that your places of interest are bunched together in two or three circles as you can see in my visit plot below. Add or subtract and expand or contract the circles as you desire. And this is true of every city I have visited.
Tokyo is serviced by a dense metro network and costly taxis. A look at the map shows Shibuya, Shinjuku or Tokyo as the main stations of interest in the circles plotted. And so the metro map configuration also supports a hotel near either of these two stations. The further away you go from the metro the prices of hotels drops sharply – True of any city but even more pronounced in Tokyo .
At this stage with the list of places of interests plotted on the map and a fair idea of the metro network, make out a detailed daily itinerary. As an example, I would visit Shibuya to include the scramble crossing, one or two department stores followed by lunch at one of the well known Shibuya restaurants. Post lunch a walk in the Yoyogi park and the upmarket Omotesando and the Takeshita street. Round the day off with dinner at one of the many night life joints and you have pretty much a full days work ! Do this for each day and review your visit plot – Voila your answer for the ideal location for your stay in Tokyo will stare out at you. In this example the Shibuya- Shinjuku area stands out for the maximum number of places of my interest and so – Shibuya hotel for the first leg of my stay and Shinjuku for the next. Once you have zeroed in on the right location finding the right hotel is an easy task –
So always remember –
Location first- The rest follows .