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4 Things this Hybrid Hostel-Hotel in Tokyo Gets Exactly Right

Hotel Uno Ueno is the latest in Tokyo’s hybrid accommodations that combine the affordability and sociability of a hostel with the upgraded design and amenities of a hotel.

By 4 min read

Tokyo is home to an increasing number of new concept lodgings that challenge norms and explore the spectrum between a “hotel” and a “hostel.” Hotel Uno Ueno is a perfect example of this new breed of hotel-meets-hostel lodging. So what kinds of things should you expect?

1. A great location

First things first, location and access to public transportation. New affordable hotels are appearing all over the city, and without knowing much about the areas of Tokyo, it can be tempting to gravitate towards the “big name” centers like Shibuya or Shinjuku. Of course, there’s no right or wrong in Tokyo, but the location of your lodgings can change your overall experience and can also provide the chance to see an extra side of the city.

Hotel Uno exterior 2

The newly opened Hotel Uno Ueno offers access to all of Tokyo through its convenient location between two metro subway lines, two JR lines and even the Keisei line with direct access to and from Narita Airport. In Hotel Uno Ueno’s case, area highlights include Ueno Park and Zoo (pandas!), the hustle and bustle of Ameyokocho market and the bright neon nightlife, too. The hotel’s off-the-main-street location also gives guests a glimpse of everyday life and the neighborhood culture of old Tokyo.

2. A range of room options for different travelers

With the growing range of lodging types in Tokyo, there’s increasing flexibility for travelers to choose room options and rates to fit their personal preferences and budget. Commonly, hostels give a single choice between either large dormitory rooms or private rooms. However, Hotel Uno Ueno spreads those room options open like a folding fan and offers a full array of customization:

  • Dormitory rooms (ten, four, three or two guests)
  • Private rooms (one, two or three guests)
  • Western bedrooms or Japanese futon rooms
  • Option of en suite or shared toilets and showers

The choice of price and privacy level are totally in the traveller’s’ hands. Those who might feel more comfortable with extra privacy have the option to book a dorm with fewer roommates, a private room or even an en suite toilet and shower. On the other hand, those who have no problem with the shared facilities can save the extra money by choosing the shared options.

All of Uno Ueno’s showers include a dry changing room and all of their toilets feature Japanese “washlet” functions — trust us, this is a big plus. Toilets, showers and sinks are all separate, making the morning and evening wash-up hours efficient and waits shorter. Plus a winning point for any long-haired traveler: a hair dryer at every sink!

It’s the attention to this kind of detail that make newwave budget hotels like Hotel Uno Ueno so attractive, especially for those who perhaps have memories of less efficient layouts and facilities at older hostels.

3. A custom fit

Many new budget hotels help save guests some cash by keeping space efficient. In true Tokyo style, no space is wasted at Hotel Uno Ueno, and beds fit perfectly into each room. Though rooms are compact, it’s impossible to miss the thought that has gone into making each unit as comfortable as possible.

Prime example: the custom-made wooden bed frames for the dormitory bunk beds. Gone are the youth hostel days of rickety metal bunk beds and tucking towels in the upper bunk mattress to create makeshift privacy curtains. At Uno Ueno, each wooden dormitory bunk is custom fit with full wrap-around track curtains.

Another ingenious and unique feature is the movable wooden panels along the side of each bunk. Serving as a privacy and safety barrier during sleeping hours, these panels can be lifted and shifted during the day making easy access for spreading out souvenirs or for puzzling through the re-packing of a suitcase (really, why is this so difficult?).

4. A social atmosphere and a chance to mingle

The potential for socializing shouldn’t be underestimated when considering a shared-space hotel over a typical private hotel. Especially for solo travelers, but even for friends or couples ready for some new faces after long city days together, having the opportunity to meet other travelers is a great reason to choose a shared-space hotel.

Hotel Uno Ueno has created a spacious first-floor common area complete with a wide U-shaped counter where guests can mingle face-to-face while cooking, working, relaxing or enjoying a drink. Hotel Uno Ueno’s common area is also available as a public event rental space, hosting parties that give travelers a chance to find company not only amongst other guests, but also with the community. Event info and local attractions are posted to Uno’s Instagram and Facebook pages.

“Hostel” is no longer a word reserved for the money-strapped backpacker. With the spectrum of hip and budget-friendly new lodging options like Hotel Uno Ueno widening, travelers have more choice to find the perfect location, price range, and custom details fit for a great stay in Tokyo.

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