I don’t need a lot when I first arrive at a travel destination: a clean, warm, safe place to sleep tops the list, and everything after that is gravy. Unfortunately, our first night in Japan I also wanted something with a good location: close to food and particularly so close to Tsukiji Market that I could walk there. I was worried I’d never find something in my price range, but then I stumbled on Viainn Higashi Ginza.
Reservations: Although Viainn appears on TripAdvisor and similar sites, it seems that they do not take bookings from those sites; you have to book through their reservation page which is available only in Japanese.
Access: Viainn is a 10-minute walk or less from four different subway stations: Higashi Ginza, Tsukiji, Tsukijishijo, and Shintomicho. It’s also about a 20-minute walk from Shinbashi Station with 5 different JR lines and the Tokyo Waterfront line.
Neighborhood: As you might have guessed from the name, this Viainn location is in Higashi Ginza, which is part of the super-swanky Ginza neighborhood. There’s plenty of food at every price point, the Kabuki-za Theater is just a few blocks away, as is the Tsukiji Fish Market (for now). The hotel is also a short train ride away from the Imperial Palace and from the Roppongi neighborhood with tons of nightlife.
Checking in: Good. Although the front desk people didn’t appear to speak much English, between my jet-lagged Japanese and their earnest attempts to help, we were able to get ourselves squared away.
Staff: Friendly and helpful. They checked us in quickly and helped point us in the right direction to the computer corner, how to get onto the WiFi and so on.
Security: Good. All guest rooms are upstairs through a lobby staffed 24 hours a day; there’s no other way in. Also, even the lowest floors are two stories off the ground, so there’s no need to worry about window security. We each had a card key, and they were happy to provide extras with ID from the person who made or paid for the reservation. There’s also a ladies-only floor to provide additional security for female guests.
Size: A bit small, though not so bad by Japanese standards. The Viainn chain is meant primarily for business customers who won’t be spending a lot of time in the room, so there’s just enough space for you and your stuff. This isn’t the hotel for you if you want to spend a lot of time lounging the room.
Comfort: Good. Bed: soft; blankets: warm; pillow: comfy and not overfilled like a lot of hotel pillows in the States. The water in the shower was nice and hot, and there was a deep bath to soak in. Although it was a bit shallow by Japanese standards, it’s deliciously deep compared with American tubs. The décor was also nice: subtle and minimalist, very classy.
Amenities: As a business hotel, the amenities are a little skimpy. In addition to the standard coffee-tea-toothbrush-shampoo, there’s a free breakfast each morning (although we didn’t avail ourselves of it, preferring to visit Tsukiji Market for sushi breakfast instead) and although there is some WiFi, it’s basically all down in the lobby; internet in the rooms is wired only. There’s also laundry facilities, and you can get a massage on-site for a fee.
Price: From 11,400-16,000 yen for single travelers and 13,400-18,000 yen when two people book a room. The ladies’ floor prices are slightly higher: 11,500-16,100 for single travelers and 13,600-18,300 for two. For more information about specific rates, there’s a rate sheet on the Viainn site.
TL;DR: The Viainn Higashi Ginza does a good job with the swank, but is essentially a low-frills business hotel. (Why no WiF in the rooms, Viainn?) Still, it’s comfortable, has free breakfast, and you can’t beat the neighborhood. If you have enough Japanese to book a room, you could do worse for a room near Ginza.