This review is for the ShinYokohama Prince Hotel in Yokohama, Japan. Read a quick summary or further below to see my full assessment of this Yokohama hotel and a list of nearby activities with tips.
Overall assessment: A fine place to spend a few days at a reasonably priced room for this region. The hotel staff were friendly and helpful. The rooms cleaned nicely. One glaring blemish is the in-room carpeting; it is has a million stains in it. Kept very clean by housekeeping but in urgent need of replacement; it’s that off-putting that I even mention it. If that doesn’t affect you then this hotel is an excellent choice. Room was $210 per night for 2 adults (each in a twin bed.) One small couch (can’t fold it out) could fit a child up to 10 sleeping on it.
The hotel itself is a cool looking round building that towers over the main train station serving the city. Our room was on the 36th floor and the view was spectacular! The amenities, customer and maid service are more or less comparable to any other hotel. The Bell Captain’s desk is staffed with friendly, helpful folks with maps, recommendations and pretty decent English speaking capabilities.
Inside the room, the two people sharing it each had a twin bed, slippers and robe. There was a also small couch, TV, kettle and small closet in the room. TV was only in Japanese but you could rent a small computer chip from a vending machine that expanded it to an English language movie channel and a couple of Japanese porn channels (which were hilarious BTW.) It cost $5 per night to rent and we only got it for the first night. Moving on, the beds were medium hard and okay to sleep on. The pillows were ubiquitous Japanese and filled with both foam and beans (in some hotels they are only filled with beans.) You may wish to purchase and inflatable pillow to bring with you when traveling to Japan.
The bathroom offered tons of complimentary toiletries, usually a toothbrush with toothpaste, razor, packet of Woolite for rinse and hang articles, hairbrush, comb and more. Both the shower, toilet and bidet rocked! The shower was adjustable in a variety of ways and had amazing water pressure. The toilet was typical Japanese. The seat was heated (choose from low, medium and high) and had a built in bidet (for a ladies rinse) or “shower” for a backside cleanse using a rear (pun intended) stream of water. Americans don’t use these type of toilets so it’s always novel to hear about a new person’s experience which normally ends with “I love it” or “it’s just so clean and refreshing.”
They have a restaurant downstairs, vending machines which sold sodas, fruit drinks, beers, hot foods like fried rice and ramen, random toiletries, and a coin operated laundry room.
The hotel is attached to the Prince Pepe shopping building – something akin to a small vertical mall. You’ll find restaurants, clothes stores, personal services like back and foot massage (awesome after a day of walking around). Be sure to let the merchants know you are staying in the hotel and they may offer you a discount. I saved $14 on a 60 minute foot massage because I happened to comment I was staying there.
The jewel of the hotel is the Sky of Yokohama bar at the top of the hotel. Naturally the view is phenomenal at night but it was the drinks that made my visit there so wonderful. Have the China Blue. It will knock your socks off.
The ShinYokohama Prince was a good value when compared to other hotels in Yokohama, Japan. This author paid $210 per night in late October, 2012, and feels it hit the “reasonable” mark. The stay was purchased through Expedia.com. When compared to American hotels and what you get, I would have rated this experience “below expectations” though. For $125 in America, I can get a larger room with two double beds and reasonably 4 people could comfortably stay there. You simply can’t do that in Japan. There is no room. This room could fit 2 adults and perhaps a small child of 10 or younger sleeping on the couch (not a pull out, the room is too small.) To fit more people, you have to rent another room. This will be true of nearly all hotels in Japan. For roomier options, my research led me to http://www.roomarama.com where I could look at apartments which were vacation rentals.
The glaring pimple on this hotel stay was this. The carpet in this hotel is very old and very stained. Once a soft powdery baby blue, it now has splotches and blotches and looks very unattractive. That doesn’t mean it’s dirty though. This hotel is meticulously attended to and extraordinarily clean. You can tell they’ve probably had it professionally treated and refurbished but it’s a lost cause. My guess is the cost is just so prohibitive right now in this recession that there is no money available for an expensive carpet replacement. The stains are extremely noticeable in the rooms though and if this was an American hotel, I would not walk on the carpet as much as possible because I would think it gross. Watching the diligence with which the rooms were cleaned each day though, you understand the floor is perfectly clean (and, of course, you are provided with complimentary slippers while staying there.)
Fit Care – It’s in the next building over closer to the station and it looks like a drugstore. They have an excellent selection of beer, wine and champagne. Perfect to grab and take back to the room to unwind and look at all the goodies you bought that day.
Big Echo – you’ll find these in nearly every main square throughout Japan. It’s a karaoke bar and they throw a lot of echo into the mix. You’ll pay $10 per person per hour and it includes all your drinks. Be careful because the time can sneak up on you and the next think you know, you have a bill for $120. It’s so worth it though. You could even go by yourself and practice your singing.
Ramen Noodle Museum – One of the main reasons this author traveled to Yokohama, Japan was to visit the Ramen Noodle Museum. Walk about 2 blocks from the hotel to get there then pay a $3 entry fee and go back in time to 1954 when ramen noodles were invented. With this bygone era as the theme, you can wander around a variety of ramen noodle restaurants, each one representing a different region of Japan and slurp noodles to your heart’s content. You’ll be expected to buy one ramen bowl for every 2 adults in your party. Order a dish of gyoza and extra bowls. This way everyone gets to try it and you save room for another restaurant. You buy the food tickets at the entrance to each restaurant. Most have pictures but you still won’t understand. Just look for something delicious, be adventurous…you gets what you gets and you’ll either like it or you won’t. (My whole philosophy to food consumption in Japan. If you end up wasting your money, it a sure bet it will be on food you didn’t eat…..or get very very good at swallowing food whole.)
You’ll also enjoy period performers from jugglers to storytellers. I liked the storyteller the best. The manner in which he told the story must be akin to what it was like back in 1950s Japan. He had an easel and 7 paintings. He would put one painting up and then very enthusiastically and using a bunch of funny voices tell that part of the story. Next he would put up the second painting and continue it until he’d told the story using all his pictures. I understood not one word of it but found it very entertaining nevertheless.
Stroll around the promenade through darkly lit “streets” and you get a real sense of what life must’ve been like then. You may enjoy a soft serve green tea ice cream cone while you do this. Yummy! Pick up some small trinkets and toys at the candy shop.
In the gift shop, they have cool dishes to buy and a really neat racetrack that you race cars around. It’s the size of a room and if you have little boys (or are a big grown up boy,) you have to give it a go! Before you leave, you MUST get the commemorative photo made. Disney parks would charge $35 or more for this but you can have yours made for a measly $5. They dress you up in fun outfits and give you props (I chose ninja noodle cook) and snap your photo. Choose from 5 different backgrounds and tell them what text you want on it. It’s one of the best pics of my whole trip.
Cup Noodle Museum – I didn’t get to this one unfortunately but it looks really cool. It’s also close to the hotel I understand. Ask the Bell Captain and he/she will give you a map and instructions how to get there.
Cats Museum – Also didn’t get to this one. I got vetoed by the 2 guys I was traveling with. In fact, one of them replied to my request with, “I’d rather be stuck in the eye with a sharp pencil.” Closer somewhere towards the waterfront I think. It’s looks to be extremely girl friendly and kawaii. (The Japanese word for cute.)
Chinatown – One of my traveling friends asked me why was I “going to Japan to go to Chinatown.” The answer…..FOOD!!!!! This Chinatown in Yokohama, Japan is the second largest in the world apparently, outside of China. I do loves me some good Chinese. Order dim sum. (It just killed me to see shark fin soup on the menu at nearly every restaurant.)
Waterfront – need I say more? Seafood. Ferris wheel. Shopping. Awesome.
Kamakura, Japan – This is a day trip out of Yokohama to Kamakura, Japan where they have the second largest Buddha in Japan known at the Daibutsu. It was built in 625 and is a World Heritage designated site.. It’s so freakin’ tall you can actually go inside it.
Rent the electric bikes from the vendor right next door to the train station. Get 3 hours worth of time (just about perfect to take the bikes down to the beach front to watch the surfers then over to the Buddha for a bit then back to the train station.) The bikes are unbelievably wobbly when you first get on them. They ride better at a little faster speed. When you first get on them it feels like you are riding on jello (very disturbing but you will have the trick of it after 10 minutes or so.) They ride these bicycles on sidewalks over there (and somewhat too fearlessly I think) so use the little bell to let people know you are coming up on them.