Japanese Hotels vs American Hotels – 14 Differences

Published on January 23, 2018 by Chris

Staying at hotels in Japan is a very unique experience. From the amazing utilization of space, to the wonderful service, I compare and contrast the differences between Japanese “Western Style” hotels in Japan and the same types of “Business” hotels in the USA. Japan has lots of type of hotels, Capsule Hotels, Manga Cafes, Hostels, Love Hotels, Overnight Buses, Traditional Japanese Inns (Ryokans). I’ll be comparing Japanese “Western Style” or “Business” hotels in big cities like Osaka, Tokyo, etc.

1 – Location: In Japan better to be closer to a train station… right on top of the train station is the best. Or connected to the train station. Hotels advertise how many mins walk they are from the station.

2 – Room types: Japanese hotels have a gazillion room types and packages. Not obvious from the english website. Different meal plans, pork, chicken, beef. “Hollywood Twin Room” one where the twin beds are seperate. I almost never book the cheapest room type.

3 – People in the room: Very strict in Japan. Adults and children. Also how many men and how many women? In the US it usually doesn’t matter.

4 – Arriving at the hotel: They really want to take your luggage. And they don’t expect a tip. Service in a Japanese hotel takes on a whole new level.

5 – Parking: Don’t expect parking. Maybe an “elevator” or “ferris wheel” type garage. Often no parking, or parking 5 blocks away.

6 – Check-in: Very thorough in Japan. Always fill-out a card. Show passport.

7 – The room itself: Japanese rooms are small. And by small I mean really small!

Mattress — often on the firm side.

Pillows — filled with beans. And usually only one.

Bathrooms: Smart toilets. Bathroom amenities. Handheld shower. Stool. Toilet slippers. Deep bath tubs. Often “modular”

Pajamas — sometimes western style, other times Yukata.

Always a Tea Kettle, and tea.

Air purifier, humidifier.

Often a pants press, and fabric freshener spray.

8 – Breakfast: Japanese & Western Style Breakfasts. Japanese breakfast is usually a set meal. Western breakfast is usually a buffet. Japanese chains usually have a more elaborate breakfast per price than western hotels. Ice Cream! And always a breakfast coupon. You can always find a 7-11 near by.

9 – Room Service: Usually not an option — but in-room massage service is.

10 – Hotel Bar: Only if they cater to westerners — otherwise a beer vending machine.

11 – Gym: What’s that? Only if they cater to westerners — make you sign a waiver.

12 – Pool: Wear a swim cap and goggles!

13 – Check-out: Is still a process. Often a check-out gift. No mobile or TV check-out.

14- Onsen Hotels.
Typically in the countryside
City dwellers retreat for the weekend to get away
Kyoto has some Ryokans
Often small and family run.
Arriving — check in is shorter
your personal room attendant shows you to your room
Makes tea with snack, explains the hotel.
minimalistic tatami mat room
No shoes (off at the room, or front of hotel)
yukata – a Japanese-style robe – and slippers
Japanese futon bedding
shoji screens made from strong rice paper that “slide” instead of swing
table called a zataku instead of a Western table. (short legs, sigh ton the floor)
Legless chairs and floor pillows surround the table.
In colder months, it may have an embedded heater to keep your legs warm.
Maybe no shower/bath in the room.
Onsen (Watch my video)
multi-course kaiseki dinner & traditional Japanese breakfast



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