Sandra Simpson stays at the JR Blossom Hotel in Shinjuku, Tokyo, Japan.

Getting there:

Airport Limousine bus from Narita International Airport to Shinjuku Station West or Sunroute Plaza Hotel — a short walk from either to the JR Blossom Hotel. The bus costs about $40 for an up to two-hour trip (depending on traffic), tickets from the booth in the arrival terminal or online.

The Narita Express is faster and costs about the same but involves a train change and the shock of negotiating Shinjuku Railway Station, the world's busiest, after a long-haul flight.


Location: On a quiet side street about a three-minute walk from several of Shinjuku Station's 200-plus entrances, a 10-minute walk to peaceful Shinjuku Gyoen Park, and close to lively shopping and good eating.

Check-in experience: Easy, though most counter staff are tentative with English (better than my Japanese!). If you've booked breakfast, key cards come with a wad of vouchers.

Room: Fourth floor with two double beds and a view over a back street. Complementary bottled water (replaced daily), kettle and tea bags, and a "humidifying air purifier" are standard. Kiwis generally find Japanese rooms overheated — we turned off the climate control and opened the window for a bit.

The bed: Firm, without being uncomfortable, ditto the pillows (pillow menu available).

Bathroom: Roomy by Japanese standards. Tub and separate shower in a wet room behind a glass door with toilet and hand basin on the other side. Heated seat on the toilet, naturally, and a wall bar of flush options (including a bidet-like spray here or there, according to the graphics).

Toiletries: All the usual, except body lotion (glad I took my collection of NZ hotel moisturisers ).

Individually packaged toothbrushes, razors, cotton buds, combs, etc for forgetful types. Body wash, shampoo and conditioner in pump bottles, the norm for Japan.

Price: Double room with breakfast was about $365 a night, a price achieved with the help of a tour company (we joined a tour after four days solo in Tokyo). The first price quoted was about $405 a night.


Facilities: Guest laundries and vending machines on three of the 16 floors. A trouser press by the lift.
Free Wi-Fi? Yes and pretty decent.

Food and drink: Fantastic breakfast with a wide array of Western and Japanese options to mix and match. No minibar in the room and no room service but a 24-hour convenience store next door plus on-street vending machines. Most tastes catered to nearby — Macca's on the corner, Tex-Mex a step or two further on, pizza and pasta in the nearby Takashiyama shopping centre, with an array of Japanese all over.

Exercise facilities: None, but who needs them when you're clocking up 10-20km a day as a tourist!

Perfect for: Business or pleasure. With Shinjuku station's railway, subway and bus lines so close, the megacity is at your feet. Head to Shinjuku Tourist Office for a fold-out map of the station and don't be afraid to ask station officers for help. A surprising number speak good English and most signs now include English.

Bottom line: Tokyo is ready for this year's Rugby World Cup and next year's Olympics and Shinjuku is a happening place! The Blossom could be the perfect oasis.