By Peter Sidell
In the film "Lost in Translation" there was a scene where Bill Murray was swimming in the hotel pool, next to some middle aged ladies having an aqua-aerobics class in Japanese. Now you can experience the same moment, and for those who prefer something a bit more budget priced than the Park Hyatt, there is an alternative at the Sheraton Miyako Tokyo.
The 25 meter pool and health club has all the touches to remind you of Japan, from swimming caps to polite pool attendants, and those moments where you wonder if you should crack a joke or not, just in case they don't understand your English. They didn't tell you in the movie that you have to pay a small fee to get in the pool, but elite Starwood members or Corporate rate guests might try your luck for a discount.
This comfortable and thoughtful retreat is a collaboration between Miyako hotels and the Sheraton brand, combining Japanese hospitality with International features you expect from Sheraton. It is amazing the attention to detail they have here, from the sneakers that you can burrow in the gym, to having all the room lights available in the console next to the bed.
There are a number of restaurants where you can partake in breakfast or dinner here, from the western buffet to the more subdue and peaceful Japanese restaurant.
The western buffet breakfast is a good selection if you prefer, but quite expensive, unless you have it discounted as part of your accommodation package. In my opinion the Japanese set breakfast is a better experience. There are also restaurants and cafes and convenience stores nearby too if you wish. So if you are craving for that Teriyaki Burger, now is your chance.
On the other hand if you are after free wi-fi, this is available only in the lobby area. Just ask the concierge for the password if you are stuck. The lobby is also a good place to people watch the various parts of Tokyo society, from lunching housewives to business conferences. Admittedly the building is from the 1970s, but it carries its age well and is not obvious in the lobby which has an elegance from another time. It is also around 10,000 yen cheaper than the newer Westin and Hyatt. While not a five star hotel this is a reasonable choice for a four star.
What I really liked were the pleasant garden surrounding the lobby and restaurant areas. It was a great way to relax. The garden blends Japanese elements into nature, and even when it rains there is a certain sense of peace just watching the raindrops trickle down the moss gardens.
The rooms are very comfortable and spacious by Japanese standards. Some rooms have been modernized (the renovated rooms, which are clearly indicated on the booking site), there are also rooms in the original Seventies décor. They are comfortable too, but some find it a bit dated. While there are a lot of rooms, you rarely hear the other guests from your room, unless you are unlucky enough to be staying next to a huge tour group. As long as you time your time your check in and check out away from the busy hours, it is very easy and the staff are friendly and speak good English.
The hotel is also five minute's walk from the subway station and there are also complementary shuttle mini-buses until 10pm from JR Meguro on the Yamanote (loop) line. Buses depart every 15 or 20 minutes from the East exit, immediate outside the station. There is a very small sign saying Miyako Sheraton Hotel bus stop. Don't cross the road to the other bus stop where the city buses run. In the mornings there are shuttle buses to JR Shinagawa station, also on the Yamanote (loop) line, the Haneda Airport line and the bullet train (Shinkansen) going to Yokohama, Nagoya, Kyoto all the way to Kyushu.
If you are planning to take the Airport Limousine Bus from Haneda Airport, the bus will stop in front of the hotel as there is a designated stop there. This is a good option as this is the cheapest direct way to get here. However the buses are not very frequent, being three times a day from the International Terminal (06:35 09:50 22:40). From the Domestic Terminal it is only twice a day at 10 am and 2250pm. It costs 800 yen and takes between 25 and 70 minutes depending on traffic.
If the bus timetable is not convenient, please take the airport train/ monorail and change for the JR train or subway.
The limousine bus/ coach from Narita takes about 1 hour 45 min to hotel and costs 3000 yen each way. The first bus is 755am and runs every 90 mins or so.
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I knew my future was destined to be with Japan the moment I flew from Sydney to experience the atmospheric lane ways of Kyoto last century. From the skies above Sapporo to the old charm of Naha's alleyways, I have been enchanted by the beauty and variety on every island. I am humbled to have met many distinguished people in my role as Regional Partner, especially the national living treasures of Japan, such as the doll maker to the Imperial Family. From sushi cooking classes to Ninja training grounds I welcome your ideas on what you like from JapanTravel.com. Please visit us in Kyoto or Osaka and have some green tea or sake with us.