Eli Orzessek checks into a compact hotel room overlooking 'Grandma's Harajuku'

Getting there:

It's a five-minute walk in a straight line from Sugamo Station — not hard to find at all.

Check-in experience: Nice and easy — I'd booked through Agoda so everything was all paid for and sorted already.


Room: A single, non-smoking room. Quite compact, but most cheap rooms are in Japan — I had to keep my suitcase closed if I wanted to walk around in my room.

Price: Varying rates apply, but I paid around $100.

What's so good about this place? It's cheap and close to a station on the Yamanote Line.

And the bad? The president of this hotel chain wrote a terrible book denying the Rape of Nanjing and put it in every APA hotel room — quite a strange business move considering the chain is popular with Chinese travellers. I read the book, Theoretical Modern History of Japan, one night and it was very weird. Apparently books of extreme right-wing propaganda have always been a Gideon Bible-like presence in these rooms.

What's in the neighbourhood? Sugamo is known as "Grandma's Harujuku" — it's a popular shopping area for elderly people. The main shopping street is known for its traditional candy stores and a shop that specialises in lucky red underwear — I picked up a pair. On the same street is the Koganji Temple, known for the statue of Togenuki Jizo. Japanese grandmas come here to pour water from the fountain in front of the statue on to parts of the body which need healing.

Toiletries: Big pump bottles of Shiseido shampoo, conditioner and body wash, along with a toothbrush, razor and shaving cream.

The bed: Not that comfortable, but this was mostly due to the very thin pillows.

A room with a view? I had a view on to the main shopping street. In the morning I'd watch all the oldies descend on it.

Bathroom: Small, with a high tech toilet and nice little tub — most Japanese hotel rooms have a bath and I recommend buying bath salts from the shops — they will transform it into an artificial hot spring. There's also a communal bath, but I wasn't allowed to use it as I have tattoos.

Free Wi-Fi? Yes, quite reliable.

Noise: A bit of street noise, but nothing too invasive.

Value for money: Not as cheap as a capsule hotel, but good if you need a little more space.

Perfect for: Travellers on a budget who don't want to stay in a capsule or hostel.

APA Hotel Sugamo Ekimae is at 2 Chome-9 Sugamo, Toshima, Tokyo, Japan. Phone: +81 3 5961 0711.