By John Carter
It is often said that Japan is expensive. But when I stayed at the Sheraton Osaka, I was pleasantly surprised. Elegant, spacious rooms in a four star hotel, all from 12,000 yen. In Sydney or New York this would be double.
The hotel is collaboration between the Miyako and Sheraton Hotels group, combining Japanese hospitality with International features you expect from Sheraton. It is amazing the attention to detail they have here, from the jogging shoes that you can burrow in the gym, to all the room lights available in the console next to the bed.
There are several restaurants where you can enjoy breakfast or dinner here, from the western buffet to the more subdued and peaceful Japanese restaurant.
The western buffet breakfast has a good selection but it is expensive at over 2000 yen, unless you have it included as part of your accommodation package. I think the Japanese set breakfast is a better experience. There are also restaurants and cafes and convenience stores nearby too if you wish.
There is a café on the east end of the hotel building as well that sells individual pastries and even boiled eggs for 50 yen each, if you don’t want a full breakfast.
As the hotel is quite large, take your time to make your way to the various facilities. For a small fee guests can try the gym and swimming pool. It is one of the few hotels in Osaka that have a swimming pool, with a lifeguard during opening hours as well. While I was there the pool was almost empty, quite the haven away from the busy shopping streets. Please note that you can’t go in the pool if you have a tattoo, like most pools or hot springs in Japan.
On the other hand if you are after free Wi-Fi, this is available only in the lobby area. Just ask the concierge for the password if you are stuck. The lobby is also a good place to people-watch Osaka society, from kimono clad brides to business conferences.
What I really liked was the pleasant garden surrounding the lobby and restaurant areas. It was a great way to relax. The garden blends Japanese elements into nature, and even when it rains there is a certain sense of peace just watching the raindrops trickle down the moss gardens.
The rooms are very comfortable and spacious by Japanese standards. While there are a lot of rooms, you rarely hear the other guests from your room, unless you are unlucky enough to be staying next to a huge tour group. As long as you time your check in and check out away from the busy hours, it is very easy and the staff are friendly and speak good English.
The hotel is also two minutes’ walk from the subway station and if you walk east you can reach Tsuruhashi JR station, which is ten to 15 minutes’ walk. There is also a Kintetsu station under the hotel which takes you to Nara in 35 minutes, as well as a 12 story department store next door. Or you can wander around Kuromon Market, the kitchen of Osaka.
If you are planning to take the Airport Limousine Bus from Kansai Airport, the bus will stop in front of the hotel as there is a designated stop there. From the airport, you would have to take the "Kintetsu Uehommachi" bus from Bus stop No. 7. Before boarding the bus, please purchase a bus ticket at the vending machine located near the bus stop. From the airport, the first bus leaves 625 am, and the last bus at 10pm. From the hotel, the first bus leaves at 610 am, and every 20 minutes thereafter, arriving at Kansai International Airport 51 minutes later. The bus is a good option if you have a lot of luggage, or don’t mind being stuck for a few minutes in peak hour traffic. Airport buses are by and large quite punctual.
Otherwise, take the Kintetsu train to Namba, and get the Nankai Airport Express. It is a bit cheaper at 850 yen, however when you add the 10 to 15 minutes travel time to Namba station to the 47 minute train ride, it will end up taking longer than the direct Airport Limousine bus. JR Pass holders should head south instead of west, by catching a subway from Tanimachi Kyūchōme Station to Tennoji Station, and then changing to the Haruka Limited Express or the Ordinary Airport Express to Kansai Airport Station.
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I knew my future was destined to be with Japan the moment I flew from Sydney to experience the atmospheric lane ways of Kyoto last century. From the skies above Sapporo to the old charm of Naha's alleyways, I have been enchanted by the beauty and variety on every island. I am humbled to have met many distinguished people in my role as Regional Partner, especially the national living treasures of Japan, such as the doll maker to the Imperial Family. From sushi cooking classes to Ninja training grounds I welcome your ideas on what you like from JapanTravel.com. Please visit us in Kyoto or Osaka and have some green tea or sake with us.