Business hotels are generally inexpensive and conveniently located, but can also sometimes be lacking in character, even sterile. At Hotel Gasthof you get the best of both worlds: the value and convenience of a business hotel, but with middle-European style and atmosphere.
The location couldn't really be better; it's just round the corner from Kagoshima Chuo station, with easy access to trains, trams and buses, and to a plethora of eating and drinking options. The tourist information center is just two minutes down the road, and it's also an easy walk or tram ride to the city's Tenmonkan and Shiroyama districts, where many of the sights are to be found, as well as more shopping and nightlife.
Stepping inside is like being transported to Europe, and back to an age when travel was a special, opulent experience. It's all wood paneling and deep, warm colors, with soft couches to rest in by reception. In the long corridors there are large mirrors with ornate frames, wooden cabinets with displays of antique glassware and colorful art-deco lamps on top, and large reproduction paintings that fit the atmosphere perfectly; I felt like I'd just stepped off the Orient Express. With all that and a very slight odor of aged wood that took me back to a trip to the Czech Republic, it really does feel more like a small, old family hotel, intimate and charming.
Behind the solid wooden door my room was noticeably more spacious than those of a standard business hotel, with a bed that was wider and quite a bit higher. The furnishings were of dark wood, with satisfyingly squeaky handles on the drawers, and I had a van Gogh reproduction to admire over my desk. The TV was good and big, the fridge rather compact, and the bathroom was tiled rather than plastic, though the bathtub was as small and awkward to shower in as anywhere I've stayed.
I had two good nights' sleep as the bed was comfortable, the side-street location was quiet, and the thick curtains blocked the light well. By way of other facilities there's wi-fi everywhere, and rental laptops for ¥1000 a night, while you can borrow chargers and humidifiers from reception, where there's also a range of locally distilled shochu and other souvenirs for sale.
There are single, double and triple rooms available, and prices vary with the season and day of the week, but you can expect to be paying roughly ¥5000 per night for a single, ¥9-10,000 for a double, ¥12,000 for a triple. For an extra few hundred yen per person you can add a buffet breakfast which gives you a range of food, so you can have your fish, rice and pickles, your sausage, egg and toast or, if you're like me, a mix of both. Just like the hotel, in fact, it's a good value way to enjoy a blend of Japanese and Western.