After spending an exhausting (but brilliant) four days in Hong Kong this time last month, I headed to Japan for two weeks, where I explored Tokyo, Kyoto, Nara, and Hiroshima – before continuing my journey to Taipei, Taiwan’s capital. After a hectic four days walking around HK, with a jet lag in tow, I was looking forward to having some rest and recharging my batteries – and Japan was perfect for that.
My first stop was Tokyo, where I stayed two nights at the Gate Hotel Asakusa Kaminarimon. I was looking for something fairly central and well-connected to Tokyo’s subway system, since I was relying on public transport for getting around the city, but preferably in a place that isn’t overly busy or noisy. The Gate Hotel ticked all these boxes – and more – and turned out to be a fantastic base for my stay.
The hotel is situated in Tokyo’s famous Asakusa district, home to Senso-ji (possibly one of the most famous Buddhist temples in the city), as well as the iconic Kaminarimon gate and Nakamise shopping district. Senso-ji, Asakusa Shrine, Kaminarimon and Nakamise are literally on your doorstep – right across the street from the hotel, not even a minute away. The Tokyo Skytree – which you can see from the hotel lobby on the 13th floor – is about 15 minutes away on foot, and offers a panoramic view of the city.
There’s also a “water bus” station nearby, so if you’d prefer to take a boat to your next destination instead of braving the crowds on the subway, water buses are a great alternative. The area is full of restaurants, so finding a place to eat won’t be a problem – there’s also a supermarket just around the corner, as well as a 7-eleven a few minutes away.
Getting here & transportation
If you’re flying to or from Narita Airport, or planning on taking the subway to explore other parts of the city, the hotel’s location is perfect. The Asakusa subway station is about a 5-minute walk away from the hotel entrance, where you can take a direct train to the airport in just about an hour (look for the Narita Skyaccess trains). For someone travelling with heavy luggage, the station’s proximity was definitely a bonus!
Although I was flying from Narita, I believe Haneda Airport is supposed to be even closer – again, there’s a direct train from Asakusa station (Keikyu Line) which takes you to the airport in about 40 minutes. As for the subway, Asakusa station is served by the Asakusa and Ginza lines, and getting to other areas of Tokyo is both easy and quick.
My room was on the 12th floor, just below the hotel lobby – which, interestingly, is on the 13th floor (something that surprised me at first, but I have since noticed the same thing in other Asian countries as well). As I was travelling on my own, I stayed in a “Style M” (Modest) room, which is usually recommended for single occupancy. These rooms are 19 square metres in size, and feature a comfy double bed.
I loved the minimalist blue / grey design – it was simple yet very tasteful and stylish. Another plus is the size of the room – although it’s the smallest room size and is designed mainly for single use, it was still enough – I never really felt like I didn’t have enough space to move around or put my luggage down, which is often the case in Asian hotels, and many other places I’ve been to before.
The room comes with the usual amenities – a kettle (possibly the one thing I was the happiest about!), a coffee maker, two mugs and two glasses, some tea bags, sugar, two spoons, and a bottle of still mineral water. There’s also a pyjama set and a pair of slippers you can use during your stay.
The toilet and the bathroom were together, but separated by a glass door – again, quite a few places I’ve been to recently (the most recent one being here in Kuala Lumpur) didn’t separate the two, meaning that the whole bathroom gets soaking wet by the time you finish taking a shower, so this one was definitely a pleasant surprise. There’s a shower but no bathtub in the smallest rooms, probably due to space issues.
In addition to the usual bathroom amenities like a toothbrush and toothpaste, the room also had a razor and shaving gel, cotton pads, a hairbrush and some hairbands (extra points for both!), a shower cap, and some face wash. The shampoo and shower gel were tea scented – and quite similar to a green tea perfume I used to use – so, as an obsessive tea drinker, I absolutely loved both.
Eating and drinking
A complimentary breakfast is included in your stay, and is served between 6:30 and 10:00 a.m. in the bar area on the 13th floor. Although there’s a buffet table, you also have the option to choose one made-to-order dish from a separate breakfast menu, which includes scrambled eggs, eggs Benedict (seemingly the most popular option), and French toast.
I went for the French toast, and it turned out to be a great decision – it was SO good! I also tried some of their buffet items with a nice cup of tea – they had this pasta dish which was brilliant, and which I then mixed with some fresh vegetables (they had quite a good selection, all of them organic). I also had some fresh fruit, but for someone who doesn’t normally have a massive breakfast, this was more than enough, and I was already full!
Of course, they had the usual buffet items as well, such as cereal, yogurt, croissants and other different pastries, so it’s easy to find something you like. But the best thing of all? Their orange juice. No, I’m serious. It’s freshly squeezed – manually – on the spot by one of the staff members, and it’s heavenly. There’s no sugar or any preservatives in it, obviously, but it’s still amazingly sweet and delicious. (I’m probably way more enthusiastic about this than everyone else, but it was so good!)
Another great thing is that the 13th floor restaurant is open 24 hours, so even if you arrive late at night, you can still enjoy a glass of wine or have a nice meal without having to leave the hotel and find a place that’s still open. There’s also a terrace and bar on the 14th floor, which is open from 6 a.m until midnight, and is exclusive – and free – to hotel guests. So if you fancy having a drink – or two – while admiring the Tokyo skyline, you can do so here.
Overall, I had a fantastic stay at The Gate Hotel, and if I’m ever in Tokyo again, I will definitely come back for another visit. The location was perfect – I’m always looking for hotels that are well connected in terms of public transport, so the Gate Hotel was a brilliant base for my stay. Being able to take a direct train to Narita was another bonus, it definitely made my journey less stressful, and so much quicker. I honestly don’t have a bad thing to say about the hotel or my experience – it’s been a wonderful visit, and I just wish I could’ve stayed a bit longer!
Disclaimer: My stay was kindly provided by The Gate Hotel Kaminarimon by Hulic, but as always, all opinions are my own.