Creature comforts and space in Kyoto
One aspect about Japan travellers regularly comment on, is that hotel rooms are often on the smaller side. And I get it. Space comes at a premium price in this island country, home to 126.8 million people. But with a little research, you can find exceptions to the ‘small hotel room’ syndrome without costing a ‘bomb.’ Mimaru Apartment Hotel is one of those.
Their website states: “our spacious rooms can house large numbers of guests for medium to long periods with all the comforts of home.”
At the time of organising my January Japan trip, Mimaru had six apartment hotels in Kyoto. Because I’d planned to spend three nights in Kyoto with my eldest son who was already in Tokyo studying at Meiji University, I booked into Mimaru Apartment NISHINOTOIN TAKATSUJI
Would Mimaru live up to their ‘spacious’ claim?
Everyone loves Kyoto
Kyoto has become a destination of choice, with an estimated 40 million visitors per year. Founded in 794 as Japan’s capital and the home of Emperor Kammu, the 50th Emperor of Japan who reigned from 781 to 806, Kyoto remained Japan’s capital until 1868. Kyoto has 17 World Heritage Sites, and more than 2000 shrines and temples. Visitors flock to the much-photographed Golden Pavilion of Kinkaku-ji, the famous Kiyomizu-dera Temple and to Nijo Castle to ‘hear’ the chirping nightingale floors.
I prefer finding the quiet in Kyoto, over the crowded destinations. Like the narrow back streets of Gion or at the less-visited temples in Kyoto’s outer suburbs.
How to get to Nishinotoin TAKATSUJI
See below* for a full list of places easily accessible from Nishinotoin.
To reach the hotel from Kyoto station, I took a subway on the Karasama line stopping at Shoji station (13 minutes travel time.) I used my handy Suica card purchased in Tokyo, which is accepted on most public transport.
Good old Google Maps helped navigate me to the hotel. Nishotoin Takatsuji is a seven-minute walk – about 600 metres from Shoji station. (Add on a few additional minutes for me heading in the wrong direction – I just can’t seem to follow the arrow on Google Maps 🙂 )
Space and comfort
The greeting by the reception staff at Nishontoin was warm and friendly (the staff are multilingual.) They gave me a city map and marked a few suggestions on what to do. My intention was to visit the Gion district after offloading my bags in my room.
I had no idea what to expect as I stepped inside room #505. To the right, behind a sliding screen door was a kitchenette with a family-sized fridge plus freezer, microwave and sink. Next to this kitchenette was a room with a toilet complete with all the bells and whistles you come to expect with Japanese loos (who doesn’t like a warm toilet seat in winter?)
The room opened to the sleeping area with two large beds.
There was so much space for me on my lonesome. Yes, unfortunately, at the last minute, my son after our weekend away at Mt Minobu and Nishiyama Keiunkan decided he should return to Tokyo to catch up on some assignments instead of playing tourist in Kyoto with me. I had my spacious Mimaru apartment all to myself 🙂
To the right of the beds was a small powder room with basin. Next to this was the ‘wet’ room separated by a glass door (that frosted over when in use.) Mimaru has thoughtfully included a large deep bath that easily accommodated my 167 cm frame stretched out (unlike my Tokyo hotel bath that was sitting room only!) The shower had either rain or handheld options next to the bath (not in the bath as is customary in Japan, somehow the water magically drains away.) Toiletries were Mimaru’s own-brand.
Common room or lounge
Beyond the main sleeping area is a screened tatami room, which can be used as a lounge or another sleeping area (futons are in the cupboard.) By sliding the screen doors open the apartment can become a large space. If you were travelling with kids or friends, this room would become a common room for relaxing.
I spread my maps and information out over the low table, planning the next day’s activities the night before. I barely used the large flat-screen TV on the wall during my stay, as a quick flick through the channels at night-time revealed most channels were in Japanese, apart from one CNN channel.
Mimaru offers guests the use of a smartphone in each room, which can be used as a portable Wi-Fi hotspot and to make free international phone calls to select countries. Guests can take them outside the hotel to use the internet for multiple purposes, such as finding directions. (I didn’t need this as I used my own mobile with a pre-paid Japanese sim card.)
Another room feature I liked: the wardrobe (with plenty of hanging space and coathangers.) When travelling you’re usually on the move, so living out of a suitcase is the norm. But with three nights ahead of me, I unpacked and made myself at home. I even grabbed a few groceries – yoghurt and some fruit for snacks – from the conveniently close family mart store. (Across the road and around the corner.) And, I confess, a Häagen-Dazs single ice-cream tub became my night time treat after pounding the Kyoto pavements all day.
Friendly reception staff
The smiling team at reception would happily answer questions. And they’d always ask how my day was when I returned to the hotel.
The following day my trip to Fushimi Inari Shrine was easy. The girls on reception pointed to the bus stop literally across the road from the hotel’s front entrance, where the #50 bus would stop about every half hour (the staff had the time table.) The bus would take me to Kyoto Station (a 12-minute trip) and it was an easy train ride (using my JR Pass) to Inari station .
A quiet sleep
If I am to judge a hotel on the comfort of its bed and the quietness of my room Nishintoin would rate 9.5 out of 10. After a full day pounding the pavement, coming ‘home’ and having a shower in the generously sized bathroom (the second night I had a soak in the bath) and crawling into the comfortable bed (with real pillows, not the lumpy kind) I had no trouble falling asleep. I also discovered there are shutters that if closed, block the morning light if you prefer a longer sleep in.
I was aware Mimaru do things a little differently. Their apartment-style accommodation suits larger groups, whether they’re families or couples/groups of friends travelling together. There is no falling over each other as would be the case in the hotel room I stayed in Tokyo (even though in Tokyo I was mostly on my own, if I was sharing a room, it would have been cramped!)
With a fully-functioning kitchen, you can choose to stay in at night and cook with local ingredients from the street markets or supermarkets or bring a takeaway container home and heat the food in the microwave.
The connection with hotel staff always makes a difference towards a memorable stay for me and I really enjoyed the genuine friendliness provided by the Mimauru staff.
As I did the cleanliness and comfort of my room.
With six hotels in Kyoto, eight in Tokyo and one in Osaka – you will find a Mimaru to suit your needs in either of these three popular Japanese destinations.
- Sleeps 4 comfortably
- Free wi-fi in the room
- Fully functioning kitchenette
- Quiet location
- Close to main attractions
- A translation application is available at the Mimaru call centre for linguistic support in 12 additional languages (beyond English and Japanese.)
- Reception is open from 7 am until 10 pm daily. Outside of these hours, you will need your room key to access the building. Check-in is at 3 pm and check out is 11 am.
- There is a coin laundry located on the ground floor near reception. It has both washing machines and dryers. Washing powder is available to purchase.
Location and access to popular Kyoto sites
*Address: 782 Honryusuicho, Nishinotoin-dori Takatsuji-agaru, Shimogyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto
Telephone Number: + 81-75-744-6035
Reception suggested I take a bus to Gion. The stop was a few hundred metres (walking) up the road. I caught the #12 bus into Gion (tap on and off using my Suica card) and about 15 minutes later I was wandering the back alleys of this special part of Kyoto.
7-minute walk from Exit 6 of Hankyu Line Karasuma Station
7-minute walk from Exit 6 of Karasuma Subway Shijo Station
11-minute walk from Exit 1 of Karasuma Subway Gojo Station
- Kyoto station (20-minute walk) or approximately eight minutes via taxi or 12 minutes via bus
- Kinkaku-ji (The Golden Temple): 38 minutes by train (20 minutes by taxi
- Nishiki Markets: 17-minute walk (9 minutes by taxi)
- Nijo-jo (Nijo Castle): 20-minute walk (8 minutes by taxi)
- Kyoto Imperial Palace: 30-minute walk (12 minutes by taxi)
- Gion Corner: 27-minute walk (11 minutes by taxi or 15 minutes via bus)
Travel Bug Within stayed as a guest at Mimaru, her opinions expressed are her own and are in no way influenced because she was hosted.