I find it interesting to read the reviews for this property, which vary widely from disgust to high praise. I've spent about three years of my life staying at Kimi Ryokan, so I feel I can provide some perspective.
I believe it all comes down to expectations. I have always thought of the Kimi as an upscale hostel, and when you look at it that way it really shines. How many hostels give you a private room, have beautiful hardwood floors throughout, and have fresh flower arrangements replaced constantly.
The Common Room clinches the hostel atmosphere. At most any time of the day, you'll find fellow travelers hanging out, happy to share their stories from the road and offer advice. Kimi Ryokan caters to the overseas traveler by providing private showers instead of the more Japanese communal bathing areas.
This is just one of the many ways that Kimi is unlike a traditional ryokan. You also won't find kimono-clad women waiting on you hand and foot, nor are meals served here. If you want that kind of ryokan, go elsewhere and be prepared to pay ¥30,000 per night.
Likewise, if you value quiet and privacy, I would recommend you instead stay at a hotel. You can find inexpensive business hotels throughout Tokyo, though they will cost you a bit more than Kimi Ryokan.
Many people complained about the "rude" staff, but I believe this is a combination of the language barrier and a culture clash. Most of the Kimi's staff are students (mainly Chinese these days) at the nearby university, not professionals trained in hospitality, and often their English is not what you would experience at an international hotel.
You might also consider that this "rudeness" is giving you a glimpse into Japanese society. This behavior is no different than a Japanese would receive staying at a similarly priced business hotel. Japan's vaunted politeness rarely extends to low-price eateries and places of accommodation.
One reason I keep coming back is the location. In other countries, an area full of hookers, bars, and massage parlors would also be a dangerous place. But not in Japan. This is more like an adult Disneyland area, with probably over 500 bars and restaurants within a ten-minute walk from Kimi. Ikebukuro is also home to the largest bookstore in Japan, the two largest department stores in Japan, and the main store of Bic Camera, one of Japan's great electronics stores. Many big fancy hotels are in business areas that are completely dead at night. The area around Kimi is always lively and a fun place to come back to at the end of the day, or to pop out for a meal or a drink.
The main disadvantages of Kimi Ryokan for me are the 01:00 curfew (but much better than the 22:00 curfew at the real hostels), and the "cash only" policy. I sure wish they accepted credit cards, so I'm not always scrambling to keep enough cash on me to pay the nightly bill.
If I wanted to spend less money, I would stay in Shitamachi, where Japan's day laborers stay. If I wanted a quiet hotel room with my own toilet and bath, I'd pay more and get one. For me, Kimi is the perfect compromise and I consider it a great value. But you should know what you're getting so that you're not disappointed.
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- Also Known As:
- Kimi Ryokan Hotel Toshima
- Kimi Ryokan Tokyo, Japan