Here’s a review of the places we stayed in Japan. These places are pretty much the cheapest spots you’ll find. They’re also fairly well located. I mean, if we stayed in them, you can stay in them.
Khaosan Annex Tokyo Guesthouse: This was our first guest house. There are two Khaosan guesthouses in the Asakusa area, so make sure you know where you’re booked. I made that mistake. The staff are super friendly, the facilities are clean, there’s a cool hangout lounge on the ground level with free internet (a big deal when you travel on the cheap). We stayed in their 8 bed dorms, 2 bed bunk room and capsule rooms. They were all pretty good. In the 8 bed dorm, each bed has curtains so you have a bit more privacy, the 2 bed bunk room is small (as you’d expect) but since you’re there just for a bed, it doesn’t really matter and the capsule beds are like the bunk room only in wooden boxes with wooden sliding doors on the side. There’s so much to see in the area too. It’s a really great spot to get your bearings and figure out what to do. People at the hostel will also give you great pointers (a sumo tournament in our case).
Real Capsule Hotel: I don’t know the actual name of this place. All I know is that it was 3000yen a night, it offered a taste of the future and it’s on the street between Asakusa station and the river. Rows of molded plastic capsule beds with a little control module for your radio, alarm and tv. This is the future my friends! When you check in, they give you a toothbrush, soap, single blade razor if you want to rip up your face, linen AND pajamas. Actually, I only ended up staying there because I made a mistake with the booking for our last night in Tokyo and I only had one bed booked (not the first time that happened), but staying there was something I wanted to do anyway, so I didn’t mind. Oh, and if you’re over 190cm, you might find it a bit cramped.
J Hoppers Kyoto: This was our first hostel in Kyoto. I booked it because it was the cheapest of the well reviewed ones over on Hostelworld. J Hopper’s is a nice place. When we were there, the other boarders weren’t too much into socializing in the lounge, but it was ok. The staff are really friendly and things are clean. I’d recommend staying here if you can’t spare 500yen to stay at…
K’s House Kyoto: Wowee. This place was good. It’s super modern and surprisingly spacious. They’ve also got a little fleet of bike for hire. As I mentioned before, bikes in Kyoto is the best thing ever (easily my favorite part of the trip). There’s a little bar attached to the hostel and they’re very well located. At night there’s a guy called Tomo that works there. He speaks like 5 languages and he’s so friendly. If you’re in Kyoto, you should sleep here. It’s great.
Nara Tree: For our two nights in Nara we decided to switch gears and stay at a more traditional guest house. Ok. Here’s the thing about Nara Tree, and keep in mind that it might change in time because they were just recently opened, but staying at Nara Tree is like staying at your buddy’s house. Your buddy that really really like Japan. It’s not as professionally set up as the other hostels. You’re staying in a house with the top floor converted into rooms, the owners live downstairs and it shows. I don’t regret we stayed there, it was a nice change of pace to hang out in a living room and watch Japanese animation, but I don’t think it’s for everyone. Personally the lack of professionalism bugged me for the first night, but then it was fine. So, yeah, it’s a cool place if you’re going to be in Nara, but just keep my advice in mind.
J Hopper’s Osaka: Our one night in Osaka was spent here. It’s a nice place, it has a great location maybe 15 minutes away from Osaka station on foot and the staff is very friendly. There’s a cool rooftop terrace from where you can see Osaka, so that’s nice. I think it’s an ok spot. Not amazing (it’s possible that this lukewarm review is because I didn’t really dig Osaka too much), but not bad by any means. I’d recommend staying there if youre in Osaka, but don’t book for more than 2 nights. There’s just not that much to see in Osaka (unless you’re really into shopping).