As far as I can tell, the Toyoko Inn hotel chain is the Marriot of Japan: reliably clean and well-kept, with a presence everywhere. During the Osaka leg of our trip, we stayed at a Toyoko Inn location: Osaka JR Noda Eki-mae.
(Scroll to the bottom for the TL;DR reivew.)
Reservations: I found this hotel on TripAdvisor and booked through AsiaRooms.com, so the reservation process was easy; no Japanese necessary. The booking confirmation email was also in English, which was nice.
Access: Quite good—the hotel is located literally across the street from Noda Station, which is on the Osaka Central Loop line, providing good access to the city. Also, Noda Station is connected with the Tamagawa subway station on the Sennichimae line, giving you even more options to explore Osaka.
Neighborhood: Unfortunately, I didn’t find much to do in Noda, but since the hotel is close to the train, there’s good access out to the rest of Osaka. The National Bunraku Theater, for example, is only three stops away.
Checking In: This one is a little tough if you don’t speak Japanese. The chain markets itself to Japanese business travelers, so they don’t staff fluent English speakers. That said, many people in the hospitality industry in Osaka can manage the basics in English, and the customer service is strong enough that the front desk staff will do their utmost to meet you halfway if you need it.
Staff: Helpful and unobtrusive, just like hotel staff ought to be.
Security: Good. The room floors are accessible only via elevator from the lobby, which is staffed 24/7, and each room has a card key lock as well as a deadbolt and fliplock—the same setup as middle-of-the-road hotels in America. There’s good lighting throughout the hotel, including at the entrance, and windows lock securely.
Size: Small, about half the size of an American room. As a business hotel, they’re expecting you to do little more than sleep there. The room fits a bed, a small desk and chair, and a small bathroom, but there’s not a lot of space to wander around. I personally found it cozy rather than tight, but not everyone would agree. Avoid if you have lots of luggage, as you’ll have trouble finding the space to store it.
Comfort: Outside the small room size, the room was quite comfortable. The beds were soft and of a good length, even for my 6 foot tall husband, and the blankets were plenty warm. They use cotton-fill pillows, but I believe they have traditional buckwheat pillows available on request. Thick curtains cover the windows, which block the light well in the morning and help reduce noise pollution. There’s good insulation in the walls as well: I couldn’t hear doors opening and closing in the hall. The bathtub was a touch odd, being neither as long as an American tub nor as deep as a Japanese tub, but it provided an adequate soak. As is the custom in Japan, the shower has a hand-held option, and the highest stationary setting didn’t bump my head (or my chest, as in Lost in Translation).
Amenities: Free internet in the lounge, but no Wi-Fi in the rooms. Complimentary bath salts and facial masks in addition to the standard shampoo/conditioner and coffee/tea. Washer and dryer available for abut 100 yen each, but bear in mind that this is a Japanese-sized washer (small) and a Japanese-style dryer (which should be illegal to call a dryer, since they do nothing). Luckily there’s a drawcord in the bathroom over the tub that you can use to hang-dry clothes. Complimentary breakfast in the morning with a selection of rice dishes, soups, salad (Japanese people love salad for breakfast), toast, bagels and so on; definitely preferable to the pathetic fruit selection and barely-working waffle irons you tend to run across in the States.
Price: We got a “standard double” (queen, I believe) for 6980 yen (~$70 USD) per night over the weekend. For what you get, I think it’s a pretty reasonable price, similar to what you’d pay for similar quality in the States (other than the breakfast, which kicks the asses of mid-range hotels in the States).
TL;DR: I like the Toyoko Inn chain; it’s a good budget place for people who travel light and aren’t comfortable staying in a hostel or guest house. If you want a cheap, secure place to sleep and don’t mind forgoing some of the finer amenities you get at fancier hotels, this is a good spot.[googlemaps https://www.google.com/maps/embed?pb=!1m14!1m8!1m3!1d3280.585279965592!2d135.47614199999998!3d34.690415!3m2!1i1024!2i768!4f13.1!3m3!1m2!1s0x6000e642827dd605%3A0xdcbc827b7de57b1c!2z5p2x5qiqSU5O5aSn6ZiqSlLph47nlLDpp4XliY0!5e0!3m2!1sen!2sus!4v1425965047317]