IMG_1896 on Flickr.
I’m gonna write a few hundred words about cheap hotels in east Asia now!
Unless you’re loaded down with disposable income because you’re in a big corporation or in the JET Programme, your trips across the region will see you in a low cost business hotel of some sort. Short of going there and scoping them out ahead of time, there’s no way to know how they really are until you get there. It’s not like they’re going to have “Centipede free since April!” on the brochures.
All of the business hotels I’ve stayed in in Taiwan were lovely places. Costs there are generally pretty cheap as it is, but I was expecting these hole in the walls and wound up with a hotel room that would have made for an excellent apartment to rent. I could have held a party in the bathroom of the one in Taipei I stayed at.
Japanese business hotels are like looking at photos of someone as they age. They’re all the same more or less. But the age/ use of the hotel shows around the corners like the lines growing on your eyes.
The recently renovated JR Kyushu Hotel Kagoshima was the dashing youth, hip to the wifi the kids were into. All sleek and shiny with an eager to please staff. The hotel in Fukuoka from which I took this photo, Nishitetsu Grand Hotel, was like someone in their 30s or 40s: A lot of the roughness had been smoothed away leaving a responsible competence behind. The staff were lovely and super helpful.
The hotel I stayed in in Shinjuku before I left Japan was like the kind but doddering granny who offers you a butterscotch to suck on and can’t remember which grandkid you are. The staff accepted that I was there.
I found Korea to be really hit or miss. For the most part you will get a very spartan sleeping space with a lobby that looks more like the entrance to a hospital. You will also get business hotels that, despite the label on the brochure, charge by the hour and are more geared towards giving the local hookers a place to operate from. Those places aren’t always sleazy looking, though. Sometimes they can be quite nice. But since hotels tend to be clustered twenty to a block, they need to bring in the cash somehow.
Once I stayed in a Korean love motel in Seoul. It seemed pretty clean and spacious. And then I found the uncapped hypodermic needle on the ledge above the door. Unfortunately, it was around 2a.m. when I found it and I wasn’t going to have much luck finding a new spot to sleep. I set the alarm for shortly after dawn and left for the train back home without showering. I was afraid of what I’d find in the towel rack.
One of my many peculiarities is that I rate hotels by the view out the window. If I base my many stays on that alone, the above mentioned palace in Taipei would be the top since it directly faced the Taipei 101 building, giving me a fabulous scene both day and night. And while the parking lot view in the Comfort Inn near Toronto Pearson Airport didn’t help it’s case, the brick wall I had in Shinjuku “won”.
I was luckier than the bastards across the hall. Their windows opened up to the laundry room.