A business hotel is a standard, rather compact (about 18 to 20m2) budget room that's usually littered all throughout different cities in Japan. If you are planning to stray away from the main cities (Tokyo, Osaka, etc), and venture out a little but not quite into the countryside, these are usually your best accommodations.
These are great for solo travellers and couples who want access to all the basic ametities for a decent price, and want to avoid hostels and guesthouses. Because yeah, I get it - I'm quite an introverted person and need my own space to relax and wind down after a trip. There's also a plus of not having to worry about your personal items and luggage, as you'll always have a locked room as a layer of protection. When I travel around Japan, I always choose business hotels over hostels simply because of that. And well, you get your own bath and toilet too. Which is the real bonus. (shy poopers anyone?)
You might think that business hotels are always going to be a bit more expensive than a hostel or a guesthouse, or even a capsule hotel. But that isn't always the case.
You have to remember that hotels also charge you by head count in Japan, not by room. So it is very possible to get a budget hotel for lesser or maybe even the same as a capsule hotel. So don't write off the possibility of getting the comforts of a private room because it might not be cheap.
But there are so many business hotels, are there ones that are better than others, you ask.
In this blog series, I'm going to detail a few business hotels I've stayed at, and what I think/thought of them. Today, I'm going to start our blog series with the WORST OF THE BUNCH......
This is the most common chain all over Japan. And one I absolutely avoid and have a personal bias against.
No it's honestly not THAT bad. It's your standard average business hotel with a bed, toilet and bath. It has everything you need. No fuss. It will probably come up as being some of your cheapest options, especially in Tokyo. They might even end up being cheaper than a capsule hotel stay that averages at around 8000 yen per night. I've seen APA hotel prices in Tokyo go down to 6000-7000 yen depending on the time of year.
Plus, they have A LOT OF DIFFERENT LOCATIONS. They are, EVERYWHERE. They are literally the Holiday Inns of Japan.
So what's my issue with them??
Well, for one... their female CEO just gives out really damn creepy vibes.
Ok, but why should you care about that? Well, here's the thing...
Just like how APA hotel locations are everywhere in Japan, this female CEO's face is printed and displayed everywhere in the hotel like
Want some free water? BAM. Her face.
Just trying to get out of the lobby? BAM. For some goddamn reason, they're selling pre-packaged curry at the front desk with her face on it.
Look, it might not bother you. But I've stayed at APA during my work orientation for over a week - and let's just say I'm so over it. And very, very creeped out.
At the same stay, I also had some ant infestation in my bathroom. I mean, yes - you can change rooms. But really, you don't have to live like this. Japan has so many other accommodations and if you're already forking out 7000 yen per night, save yourself the headache and nightmare for a more comfortable stay.
But like most of you, I am a forgiving soul. And I decided to give APA one more chance on a trip to Fukuoka with my boyfriend much further down the line. It was cheap. And they had so many different locations that they can't all be terrible right?
This time, there was nothing wrong with the room. But it was their customer service. As you may or may not know - foreigners who live in Japan shouldn't and don't have to present their passport or any form of ID, let alone having their passports taken for a photocopy. This is because we have permanent address here in Japan, and the law only requires any resident of Japan (foreign or no) to simply provide a Japanese address.
Not only were they persistent on seeing my ID, they insisted that they needed a photocopy of my ID. We had a long back and forth in Japanese, watched other Japanese residents go on their merry way after writing their address but still insisted I had to hand over my resident card for them to photocopy.
I told them I would not, as other APA chains did not ask that of me (a lie - but many other hotels and the ones I've stayed at along the way on this trip have stopped doing this), and I would provide them with my address because I live here. And if they wanted me to show them the law on this issue, I will show them. They eventually relented and gave me my booked room. But it did leave a very sour taste in my mouth.
Look, I'm really not being paid to bash this chain but they've just consistently disappointed me and I've never once had a drama-free experience.
I'll end by saying this - if the price is under 4000 yen, the particular branch has good ratings on Google and Booking.com, and I'm staying for just one night - then sure, I'll stay. But if the prices are competitive and I can stay at a better hotel for cheaper or the same price, I'm avoiding APA with a 1000-foot pole.