Osaka Guide: Low Budget Hotels in Osaka Shinsekai 新世界, 大阪
Nishinari Ward, Osaka 西成区
Hotel accommodation tends to be one of the larger expenses in any travel budget. Long-distance transportation costs can be reduced significantly by using highway buses instead of the shinkansen, and low-cost quality food can easily be found all over Japan. But how about low-cost accommodation in private hotel rooms?
Some hotel chains in Japan offer fairly low priced accommodation in central city areas. The Toyoko Inn chain is a fine example, if you consider 7,000 yen per night for a single room with a private bathroom low budget.
Then, there are backpacker hostels offering a bed for as low as 2,500 yen per night in a dormitory room which you share with 10 other people if every available bed in the room has been booked.
Shinsekai hotels - about 2,500 yen for a single room, about 3,800 yen for a double
It seems that pioneering hotel operators in Osaka have finally found a solution to the problem. They discovered a way to run hotels similar to the way Ryanair and Easyjet run their flight businesses. They cut down on costs and advertise aggressively.
These hotels offer extremely cheap but clean, safe and reliable accommodations that serve basic needs, such as a private room of your own, a fridge, a TV, an air conditioner and a clean futon. Toilets and showers in the hallway are shared by the various guests.
Amenities such as towels, tooth brushes, plastic cups, soap and the like are not covered by the room charge in these hotels. You have to buy each item at the check-in counter if you haven't brought it yourself.
There is no breakfast or any other food service for that matter either, except for the beverage vending machines in the lobby.
Expect to pay no more than 2,500 yen for a single room or about 3,800 yen for a double.
These hotels are located in Nishinari Ward, on the nameless wide thoroughfare separating the Shinsekai (New World) entertainment area around Tsutenkaku Tower from the seedy homeless area of Kamagasaki (now officially known as Airin).
The center of the hotel strip is the Taishi intersection right outside Shin Imamiya Station of the JR Osaka Loop Line. The hotels line the street westwards up to the overpass of the Nankai Main Line at that line's Shin Imamiya Station, and eastwards up to the overpass of the Hanshin Expressway. All in all a stretch of about 500 m.
The area used to be a center for flophouses for day laborers. Around the turn of the millennium, however, the hotel owners started to look for a new clientele. They realized that the area had excellent train connections to all of Osaka and that, as customers, backpackers were much easier to handle than the often troublesome day laborers.
The hotels began to advertise their premises in English, hired English speaking staff and did a thorough job of cleaning up their places. Today, they cater not only to backpackers but aim at all budget-conscious travelers.
Not all of these hotels allow children to stay. Please check their websites if you plan on traveling with children.
The main hotels in the Shinsekai district of Osaka are the Raizan, the Shin Imamiya and Sun Plaza. All of them offer single rooms in both Western and Japanese style (with tatami mats and futon) for about 2,500 yen per night, double rooms are about 3,800 yen.
Bath rooms and showers are shared in all three hotels and the general conditions vary little.
While the Raizan and the Shin Imamiya are huge complexes, the Sun Plaza Hotel is a smaller structure right across the street from the Airin Labor Welfare Center. The Sun Plaza Hotel advertises single rooms from 1,300 yen upward outside its entrance. By booking a room at the hotel via the internet, a room will typically be about 2,500 yen, the standard price for the area.
Sun Plaza 2 Annex
The Sun Plaza has in recent years added numerous annexes along the street. One of them is the centrally located Sun Plaza 2 Annex.
A recent (November 2015) stay at the hotel led to the following impressions:
- The staff at the check-in counter were friendly, competent and spoke good English.
- A single Japanese-style room meant a 3-tatami room with a futon, a refrigerator, a TV, air-conditioning and a few hooks on the wall. Not much comfort, but sufficient.
- Each floor had a set of toilets with a single sink. The toilets were extremely clean. In general, cleanliness seems to be the magical rule the hotel abides by. Since there is only one sink-with-mirror per floor, problems might arise when the hotel is fully booked with many people wanting to shave and brush their teeth.
- There are only 2 small shower stalls in the building. One is on the 1st floor, the other on the 8th floor. Though very clean, that number might not be sufficient if the hotel is fully booked. From 8am to 10pm, one has to get a shower room key from the reception; after 10pm no such key is necessary.
- Separate onsen public baths for men and women are available free of charge. They are open from 3pm to 10pm. The men's bath is on the 1st floor, the women's bath on the second.
Items such as towels, soap, shampoo etc. can be bought at the reception desk.
Taking the location in account, the hotels offer fair to good value for the money (about 2,500 yen plus consumption tax), at least as long as they are not crowded.
Access - how to get to Nishinari-ku
See a map of Osaka showing the location of hotels in Nishinari-ku.