Japan cheap travel

A complete guide to budget travel in Japan

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 Gion, Kyoto
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Love Hotels

Love hotels are an interesting option for more adventurous tourists who are traveling in a pair. Urban Japan is extremely crowded, so young Japanese couples often choose to escape to spend some private time together in a Love hotel. These hotels are a common part of life in Japan and visiting them is not considered seedy or abnormal.

During the day, Love Hotels have an extortionate hourly rate, but overnight when less Japanese people visit them, there is a fixed price, which is usually very reasonable. For the same price as staying in a business hotel or a Youth Hostel, Love hotels can provide an abundance of space and luxury.

We stayed at a Love hotel in Sapporo which cost about the same as two beds in the local Youth Hostel. The room came with a Jacuzzi with its' own waterproof TV, as well as a plasma screen in the main room! Love Hotel rooms often have very outlandish decorations and themes; mood music and lighting control panels, and contain interesting vending machines! There was also a superb selection of toiletries, far outdoing the usual soap and sachets you normally get in a hotel.

The main disadvantage with Love hotels are the check-in and check-out times. To avoid paying the expensive hourly rate levied during the day you must check-in later in the evening, for example, after 10pm and leave early the next day, for example, before 9am.

When we stayed in Love hotels we left our backpacks in left luggage lockers at the railway station to avoid carrying them around all day. There are coin-operated left luggage lockers conveniently placed in most train stations; where you can leave your pack for around 500 yen per day.

In our experience, not all Love hotels had bright-lit neon signs outside. The best way, we found to identify a Love hotels was by looking at the boards outside, listing a range of room prices; normally, short stays, long stays and overnight stays.

Tokyo Love Hotels

In Tokyo many of the Love hotels are around 'Love hotel hill' in Shibuya and in Kabuki-cho near Shinjuku. Outside of these places finding a Love hotel to overnight in requires perseverance. Foreigners can often be turned away (almost certainly if they are not in a couple). There are also some unstaffed Love hotels, leaving you at the mercy of mysterious hotel booking vending machines in Kanji! However, every large town has some Love hotels and staying in them can be an experience in itself!