By Elena Lisina
Just a few minutes' walk from Hamamatsu station, Kuretake Inn ACT is a comfortable and very, very good value business hotel. Despite the low cost of its rooms, it's perfectly clean and well-appointed, and the location alone makes it worth considering.
I arrived around midday but the friendly, helpful staff allowed me to check in early anyway, then found the transportation information I needed for my afternoon's sightseeing. When I came back in the evening it was "Welcome Drink" time, when guests can enjoy a free self-service cocktail or soft drink in the dining room by the lobby, a service I happily took advantage of.
My single room was typically compact and cosy, with the business hotel TV, fridge and small molded plastic 'unit bathroom' all present and correct. It had sliding shutters rather than curtains or blinds, which very effectively blocked out the light: and with the comfortable bed and quiet location away from the busy streets around the station, I had a good, undisturbed night's sleep.
In the lobby you'll find a "Service Corner" with extra free supplies for your room and some souvenir goods for sale, and the "Comics Corner", where you can borrow manga to practice your Japanese. Nearby there's a laptop for guests to use; if you have your own device then there's wired internet in the rooms and free Wi-Fi throughout the hotel, and if you don't there are laptops available to rent.
The room rate includes a buffet breakfast, which has a mix of Japanese and western food: curry, rice and yakisoba fried noodles, pickles and kimchi, eggs, salad and meatballs, pastries and croissants. A leisurely couple of swings by the buffet (possible three, in fact) left me happily replete and ready to take on the day.
As well as being so close to the station, the hotel is also near the ACT City skyscraper, with its 45th-floor observatory commanding a fine view of the region. Also nearby is beerhall-style restaurant Mein Schloss, plenty of shopping at May One and Zaza City and, a little further away, the interesting Musical Instrument Museum, and the city's impressive castle and attractive surrounding park.
There are single and double rooms available, and while the prices on the website start at ¥6200, it's possible to pay less by booking in advance online; the cost seems to depend on a number of factors such as what kind of room you have, what day you're staying, and how long in advance you book. It's certainly not expensive; my room cost just ¥4450, and a quick check on a well-known reservation website showed that this wasn't a one-off. So while this isn't the fanciest hotel in town, it's definitely up there when it comes to budget-friendliness.
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I came to Japan from Manchester, England in summer 2003, and have travelled a lot since then, around Japan and in Asia. When I`m not working I write satire at www.iothern.blogspot.com and perform stand-up comedy in and around Tokyo. Check my youtube channel `CunningPunster` for a taste.