We stayed in an apartment while we were in Tokyo last year. It was a new experience for us as we used to stay in hotels during our other trips in Tokyo. There are pros and cons to each choice and to some degree, if you are staying in a location for a longer period of time, an apartment sometimes works out better.
What I like about the apartment is:
- It is bigger than the hotels that we tried before for slightly less money. We got the basic bathroom (similar size and setup to a hotel bathroom), a kitchen that has a dining table, a bedroom that doubles as a living room if you have guests, a balcony that is also where you do laundry.
- It does not have service hours so we are free to come and go at any time.
- It is in a residential neighbourhood and it is neat to be spending time being in one.
- For our apartment, the Internet is included (same as other hotels we tried) and that is quite convenient. I did have my Airport Express with me to create my own wireless connection for me and my wife to use.
- The kitchen is a fully functional kitchen; it has a fridge, a microwave oven, a stove, dishes and utensils. We were able to save money by buying simple food and drinks we can store in the fridge and reheat using the microwave.
- Being able to do laundry is great. Though, depending on the season, you might have to watch out if the laundry would dry fast enough for you.
What I didn’t like about the apartment is:
- You might have to put up with noisy neighbours if you are unlucky. Most apartment rental has an agreement that you cannot create an excessive amount of noise. But that doesn’t mean your neighbour who might not be a renter would be as nice as you. There was one night I was kept awake because the neighbour was doing laundry in the middle of the night.
- If you didn’t like your bed, you cannot ask to switch room for a better bed. The bed we had was a futon and it took a little getting used to.
- Recycling program can be confusing. Japanese people have a very comprehensive recycling program but if you haven’t lived there for a while, or live with someone who knows what is going on, sorting out recyclables could be confusing and time-consuming.
- Since it is apartment rental, the cancelation is not as convenient as hotels. You might have to consider this seriously. If you are not sure about trying this out, or if you think your plan might change, you might not want to use apartments as you could lose your deposit.
The apartment we rented was 28 sq meters (or ~300 sq feet). It is not huge but is also quite an experience. For 2 people, it is not too cramped. We had laptops so surfing on the Internet was not really an issue doing it in bed.
The company we rented our apartment from is Live in Asia (http://liveinasia.com/). All bookings and payments were done via the internet. Their email correspondence was prompt and they have staff who knows how to communicate effectively in English as well. The company arranged a “manager” to take care of us. We called him when we arrived in Narita Airport and gave him the approximate time we would be at Nakano. We ran a bit late but he was there waiting for us at the train station exit. If you are not good at finding someone you never met before at a train station, all you have to do is to look lost and they will find you :P The manager was very nice and took us to the apartment. He even offered to help with our luggage. Walking to the apartment from the train station took about 10 minutes because of the luggage. Normally it would have only taken 5 to 7 minutes. After we arrived at the apartment, he explained to us how to use everything, gave us instructions of recycling in English, as well as local attractions around the neighbourhood. It was great to be taken care of since there is no hotel concierge to consult with the next day. I was happy about the hospitality and the great information offered.
Here are some photos of the apartment.
Renting an apartment is definitely an option for traveling to Tokyo if you need to stay for a little while. For us, we were there for about 2 weeks and it was a neat experience to have.