What do you look for in a hotel? A comfortable bed, clean rooms, quick and efficient service? A luxury resort with spas, five star restaurants, swimming pools and tennis courts? If you are in the former category, the Toyoko Inn could be just right for you.
Toyoko Inn is one of the biggest business hotel chains in Japan, and now with hotels in China and South Korea as well. Business Hotels and Resorts are different. One reason is because they are used for different purposes. Five star resorts, like some ryokans or the Hyatt are a destination in itself, while business hotels are used as a base to see other destinations, as a means to an end.
Many resorts are located in scenic areas, where there are beautiful views. Guests can enjoy their holiday just by looking at the view from their room.
Business Hotels like Toyoko Inn on the other hand, are used as a base. For example, a visitor would leave their luggage in the hotel room, and then spend a whole day sightseeing outside the hotel.
The good thing about a Toyoko Inn is that you know what you are in for. Super clean rooms, pleasant homely beige and striped wallpaper, comfortable but firm beds, a bath/shower, complementary yukata pajamas, your own phone, a bar fridge, a writing desk, individually controlled reverse cycle air conditioning, complementary Japanese tea, and some nice touches, like a hot water kettle with a humidifier function, and pay TV on demand.
In the reception area there are a few complementary Internet laptops/PCs, Wi-Fi, English and Japanese Newspapers, and a simple but hearty breakfast included in all tariffs each morning, consisting of miso soup, onegiri (Japanese rice balls (actually triangular shape) with seaweed or umeboshi (pickled plum), and sometimes croissants/ bread rolls, mini sausages or scrambled egg and Japanese style salads, like pasta salad with Japanese mayonnaise, or potato salad, plus Japanese or English tea and American Coffee. Of course if you prefer to drink something else, or sleep in past nine thirty and miss the breakfast, there are always the vending machines.
Being a home “base”, they also have luggage storage and coin operated washing machines and clothes dryers. Great idea when you are traveling for a long time and you run out of clothes (or socks!) Of course if you have time, you can do your laundry in your own bathroom and pull out the retractable clothes line to dry overnight. If you prefer fresh air, the windows open too.
The great thing about the Akita Hotel is that you get really good views, being in one of the highest, slickest buildings next to JR Akita station (East Exit). Perfect if you are tired after traveling by Shinkaisen (bullet train) from Tokyo. And if your body is asking for a massage, there is a massage service available in the shop next door (open until 10pm). They only take cash though.
Most guests are business people, traveling salesmen and the like. There are the occasional retired couple or college graduate, plus a smattering of people from overseas.
In a place like Akita, you are unlikely to see many foreigners, so the staff themselves won’t speak much English. However both the internet booking and check in process is really simple. The booking site is in several languages, and you can even change or cancel your booking up to a day ahead. They also provide slightly cheaper rates for single rooms, and discounts on Sundays. Sometimes they offer “Cinderella” plans where you get a discount for turning up with no reservation after midnight. I wouldn’t chance it though, as this hotel is usually full by midnight. With the check in, they hand you a bilingual form to fill in, and if you are a member of their loyalty program, you get a free night after 8 or 10 nights (depending which membership you take up, which is free or just for a nominal amount). You only have to stay at their hotels once a year or every two years (for overseas members) to maintain your currency. The other plus with members is that you can check in from 3pm instead of 4pm. I haven’t heard of anyone who managed to get a late checkout (after 10am) from them… maybe when I can when I become famous?