HOTEL THE FLAG: comfort in the heart of Osaka

HOTEL THE FLAG Shinsaibashi entrance
HOTEL THE FLAG Shinsaibashi

We flew into Osaka tired, weary and exhausted after our 12-day road trip around Hokkaido; luckily HOTEL THE FLAG Shinsaibashi was just the accommodation we needed to rest up before setting out to explore the city. Read on to find out about our stay…

Disclaimer: Our time at HOTEL THE FLAG was sponsored but all words and comments in this post are our own.

Location
HOTEL THE FLAG reception
Reception

What initially drew us to stay with HOTEL THE FLAG Shinsaibashi was its fantastic location. Based in Shinsaibashi, this hotel is right at the heart of Osaka and just a few minutes walk to the vibrant streets of Dotonbori. Despite its close proximity to the shopping and entertainment district, the hotel is sat along a quiet side street which means it does not suffer from traffic nor tourist noise. If like us, you intend to explore other areas of Kansai (e.g. Kyoto, Wakayama, Kobe, Nara etc.) you will be able to walk to one of Osaka’s main train stations Namba station in no longer than 10 minutes. A perfect 10/10 for location.

Rooms
HOTEL THE FLAG bedroom
Deluxe Double, clean and simple design

For our stay, we slept in the Deluxe Double room which offered plenty of space for two. HOTEL THE FLAG Shinsaibashi is architecturally stunning, choosing a simple yet modern and sleek design throughout the property including their bedrooms. The bed was one of the comfiest we’ve slept in on our travels which was perfect considering we had been roughing it up in a small car in the previous 12 days.

HOTEL THE FLAG bathroom
Bathroom

The bathroom included a bathtub, powerful shower, and a ceiling shower head. Nice extras included free bottles of mineral water, tea and coffee set, and a smartphone with its own SIM plus data for you to use while exploring the city, handy!

Facilities
HOTEL THE FLAG breakfast
Lovely breakfast to start the day

On the first floor, you will find all HOTEL THE FLAG’s facilities including a restaurant, library, laundry room, coffee machine and a lounge with a beautifully modern fireplace. We recommend going for their buffet breakfast which has a wide choice of food including Western and Japanese dishes. Vegans and vegetarians will generally find Japan a little difficult considering how much meat they consume here. Having said this, HOTEL THE FLAG do a great job with their breakfast which includes a wide selection of salads and vegetable.

Things to do

Just one minute walk from the hotel is Shinsaibashi shopping street which has countless shops and cafes. We recommend checking out Rikuro Ojisan no Mise if you’re a cake lover (tip: queue up for the ‘straight out of the oven’ cakes). HOTEL THE FLAG’s location is also within walking distance (3.5km) to Osaka castle, one of our favourite photography spots.

Final thoughts


Osaka can be a very overwhelming city, especially for first-time visitors. That’s why we feel it is so important to be located somewhere very centralised like HOTEL THE FLAG Shinsaibashi. The staff were fantastic throughout our stay and we thoroughly enjoyed the breakfast which provided a good start to the day. All-in-all, we couldn’t recommend HOTEL THE FLAG Shinsaibashi enough.

Book HOTEL THE FLAG Shinsaibashi with booking.com

On The Marks Kawasaki: Hostel and Hotel

On The Marks Kawasaki entrance

On The Marks Kawasaki offers everything we look for in a hotel: clean, comfort, security and location – while providing the social experience of a hostel. This lodging is blurring the lines between a hostel and hotel – and we like it. Read on to find out more about our stay.

Disclaimer: Our time at On The Marks Kawasaki was sponsored but all words and comments in this post are our own.

Location
On The Marks Kawasaki cafe and music lounge
On The Marks Kawasaki cafe and music lounge

We should make something clear right off the bat, On The Marks Kawasaki is not located inside Tokyo but is in Kawasaki which is within the Greater Tokyo Area. So what does this mean? Well, it might be true that geographically it isn’t as close as some other hostels located inside Tokyo, but this comes with its own benefits – the price is much more affordable and you have great access to Japan’s second-biggest city Yokohama. Plus, thanks to Tokyo’s incredible public transport system, you’ll be at popular areas such as Shibuya and Shinjuku in no time.

On The Marks Kawasaki is centered in a fantastic area of Kawasaki with plenty of food offerings, bars, shops and Kawasaki station nearby.

Rooms

One of the things we loved most about On The Marks Kawasaki was the different types of rooms they offered: Bunk Bed, Compact Room, and Standard Room. I’ll go through each one so you know which one will suit you. Male and Female Bunk Beds and Compact Rooms are located on separate floors with separate toilet and showers.

Bunk Bed
On The Marks Kawasaki Bunk beds
Bunk beds

These were hands down the best bunk beds we’ve stayed in so far. The beds were soft and comfortable, curtains were thick enough to block light, there is enough room inside each bunk to place a couple of large bags at the end of your bed, there are several hangers to use, a personal security box big enough to fit a laptop, and the room was a lovely cool temperature perfect for sleeping. There are separate large lockers nearby if you’re looking to safely stow your luggage away. Toilets and showers are shared. We think these rooms are perfect for backpacker/budget travellers.

Compact Room
On The Marks Kawasaki Compact room
Compact Room

If you’re looking for a little more privacy but still want something affordable then compact rooms are the ones for you. These private rooms feature a very comfortable low Japanese style bed with it’s own TV. Toilets and showers are shared with other guests. Please note these rooms are single only.

Standard Room

The top lodging offered by On The Marks Kawasaki, these come in both single and double sizes. These rooms are more spacious, have a bigger TV and its own bathroom. Standard Rooms are great if you’re looking for the hotel experience or travelling as a couple.

Facilities

Where you’ll likely spend most of your time at the accommodation is on the first floor in the cafe/music lounge. On The Marks Kawasaki are proud of the city’s vibrant music scene and show it with their nice selection of tunes and beautiful display of vinyl covers – the vibe makes for a great place to meet fellow travellers. You’ll also find your basic facilities such as free Wi-FI, laundry and a communal room.

Things to do

On The Marks Kawasaki is located close to Tokyo and Yokohama. But, if you’re looking for something a little closer we recommend checking out Anata No Warehouse which is a crazy themed arcade designed after the infamous walled city of Hong Kong. Also, the nearby temple Kawasaki Daishi is well worth a visit. On typical days it is much quieter than temples found around Tokyo.

Places to eat

Dotted around Kawasaki are many Tsukemen ramen shops. Unlike typical ramen, Tsukemen separates the noodles from the broth and is eaten by dipping the noodles one mouthful at a time.

Final thoughts
On The Marks Kawasaki communal area
Communal area

We’ve stayed in our fair share of hostels over the past several years, and few have been as comfortable stay in as On The Marks Kawasaki. Sure, it’s not as conveniently located as other offerings in main Tokyo but as we were looking to explore Yokohama too, On the Marks Kawasaki was the perfect choice.

Emblem Hostel Nishiarai: a hostel for travellers to meet travellers

Emblem Hostel exterior

Emblem Hostel exterior

We take a step out of central Tokyo to stay in Emblem Hostel Nishiarai, a hostel we believe to be perfect for travellers to meet like-minded travellers.

Disclaimer: we were invited to stay at Emblem Hostel Nishiarai during our visit to Tokyo but all words and comments in this post are our own.

Location

Emblem Hostel Nishiarai is located in the northern part of Tokyo city with its closest train station being Nishiarai station just one minute walk away. Never heard of Nishiarai? Don’t worry, neither did we and nor do many who live in the city, but we believe it’s an area well worth choosing for your next stay in Tokyo. Those travelling from the airport can take the Skyliner to Ueno station before taking the Hibiya Line straight up, it should take just over an hour to reach Emblem Hostel Nishiarai.

As soon as we stepped out of the Nishiarai station we noticed a completely different pace in the locals. It provided us with a comforting respite from the crowded streets of central Tokyo which we so welcomed after a long day of exploring. Despite the stark contrast in atmosphere, Emblem Hostel Nishiarai is less than 30 minutes by train to main attractions such as Senso-ji temple, Ueno Park and Tokyo Skytree.

Rooms

Emblem Hostel Nishiarai offers three different types of room: Dormitory, Group Dormitory and Private. For all four nights we stayed in the Dormitory room, although we didn’t stay in the others we will give a rundown on their differences.

Emblem Hostel Nishiarai room
Modern pods in the dormitory room

Dormitory

Dormitory rooms come in various sizes which can accommodate 4, 6 or 8 guests. These are shared rooms. The beds are all pod styled bunks, each with its own single electrical and single USB socket. There is a rack to hang your towels and a narrow shelf perfect for your wallet and other small miscellaneous items.

Each bed will also have its own separate locker which is big enough to fit a large backpack. Toilets and showers are located outside of the room and are shared with other dormitory rooms.

Group Dormitory

These are also shared rooms and are very similar to the Dormitory except they can accommodate 8 or 12 guests. The only other difference is that the toilets and showers are located inside the room and is shared only between the 8 or 12 guests. These rooms can be booked as a private room but are subject to availability.

Private Room

Fairly self-explanatory from the name. The private room accommodates up to three guests and is only available for private bookings. These rooms can either come with a large double bed or a twin bunk. There is room for an extra bed if three guests are staying. Toilets and showers are private.

Facilities

You’ll find all your hostel necessities such as laundry and storage, but Emblem Hostel Nishirai goes the extra mile by offering a daily voucher (one for each night you stay) which allows guests to pick from a complimentary bike rental, gym pass or breakfast. The breakfast on offer may vary as time goes by but we had scrambled eggs, sausages, toast and soup. You also get a complimentary drink with the breakfast.

Emblem Hostel Nishiarai cafe and lounge
Cafe/bar area for guests and locals

On the second floor is a communal area for guests to hang out and chat. Computers are also available should you need them. Just outside of the communal area is a large patio where Emblem Hostel Nishiarai hold barbecues when the weather gets warmer.

Emblem Hostel Nishiarai communal room
Communal area
Outside patio
Things to do

We highly recommend spending at least half a day exploring Nishiarai. Walk around the local area and experience a quieter side of Tokyo. Nearby you can find Nishiarai Daishi or you can go exploring the many picturesque streets and alleyways.

What we especially loved about Emblem Hostel Nishiarai was the effort they made to bring together guests. On most days you will find activities such as meet and greets, film night and sushi making which help travellers meet one another. We booked ourselves in for the Sumo Tour which lets you sit in on a Sumo practice session. Unlike regular sumo matches which are over in a few seconds, the practice session allows you to watch multiple bouts between the wrestlers and at a much more affordable price. A full list of activities can be found on their website.

sumo wrestlers trying to push each other out
Sumo wrestlers going head to head in a practice session
Places to eat

Around Emblem Hostel Nishiarai we found a large selection of food offerings from small ramen shops to a very budget friendly yakitori corner shop. If you’re looking for something more western, there’s a McDonalds and a KFC at Nishiarai station.

Our thoughts on Emblem Hostel Nishiarai

Emblem Hostel Nishiarai graffiti

Having stayed at multiple hostels throughout Asia and Europe, Emblem Hostel Nishiarai gets full marks when it comes to cleanliness, comfort and cost. Where we thought it might drop points was in its location, but this turned out fine too. What really differentiates Emblem Hostel Nishiarai from the other offerings is its activities and socials. Whether you’re travelling solo or in a group, one of the best parts of travelling is making new like-minded friends and Emblem Hostel Nishiarai does a great job of fostering a great environment for this.

If you’re interested in booking a stay with Emblem Hostel Nishiarai, we are happy to announce they are offering you guys a 10% discount on your bookings when you use our promo code.

10% promo code: ChopsticksTokyo18 

Visit emblem-group.com to make your booking today.