- Location, location, location. This place is a 2-minute walk from Shibuya station, which is one of the major train/subway stations in Tokyo and therefore makes it convenient to get almost anywhere in the city. Shibuya is also one of the centers of youth culture in the city, so it's more vibrant and fun (though also therefore more crowded and a tad grimier, which I actually kind of liked) than other neighborhoods.
- Room design: Our "Modern double" room was small but comfy and ingeniously laid out, as many Japanese hotel rooms are. Special props for the bathroom, which is glassed in on two sides so you can peer into it from the bedroom portion of the room (curtains provided for privacy). It creates a sense of a larger space -- not claustrophobic at all. It was totally clean.
- Price: though it was among the more expensive hotels in our two week trip through Japan, it's a good value for this area.
Now, the downsides.
- Firstly, and this is not something I'd typically say of many small foreign hotels, they really need to have staff who speak better English. Why? Because this hotel now has a Tripadvisor award, and they are *clearly* trying to cater to and solicit foreign business -- the majority of guests we saw in the hotel were *not* Japanese. The staff is ever-friendly and polite, as were almost all folks we met in Japan, but they didn't quite have the language skills to really provide good concierge service (booking restaurants, providing directions, etc) or to explain many intricacies of the hotel. Speaking of which:
- There is no service elevator in this tallish hotel. That means for several hours during the middle of the day, when the staff clean the rooms, the two elevators were constantly in use by staff. This meant to get up to -- and down from -- our room in the afternoon, we often ended up stopping at every floor so service people could get on and off the elevator to do their work. What should have been quick stops to grab something from our room became frequent fifteen-minute wastes of time. Why didn't we just use the stairs? Because...
- The stairway doors are locked. Maybe there's a way for guests to open them, but I certainly couldn't figure it out. Maybe they open automatically in case of emergency, but in addition to being an annoyance I did worry about safety in the event of fire or something.
- The bedroom windows can only be opened and closed by staff with a special key. This isn't atypical of hotels, and usually it's not a problem because there's climate control in the room to adjust for heat or cold. EXCEPT...
- We stayed during the week when the month changed from October to November. And it turns out that starting November 1st, the hotel turns on the heat, and doesn't allow you to use the controls in the room to cool things down. So we were stuck in a warmish room, unable to turn on the AC, or to open the window without calling a service person to do it for us. Majorly annoying, especially after two people take showers and the room gets so humid the window actually fogs up.
I'm a little sad to point out these flaws, because again, the staff was super friendly, the room was neat and we enjoyed our stay in the area. But I feel like the Granbell now has an international rep and they could do a bit more to live up to it.
- Also Known As:
- Granbell Hotel Shibuya
- Shibuya Granbell Hotel Tokyo
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