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xitappers2bx

Teenage-Friendly Hotels in Tokyo and Hong Kong

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Hey ya'll!  I am booking the trip of a lifetime for my kiddo, she's turning 16 next summer and she thinks we're going to the Baltics.  Sorry kid, I'm making your Japan dreams come true.  But, I really need some help.

 

She's been obsessed with Japan since she was knee high, and was heartbroken when I told her, quite seriously, that we can't go to Japan next year because of the Olympics.  So you can understand there's a bit of pressure to make it right.  I know very little about Tokyo and Hong Kong (cruise departs from there and goes to Japan), but would like to pick a hotel that is teenager friendly (think... close to subway/train stations, modern amenities.  I love her, she would die without wifi) and will give her that middle of it all feel.  She's HUGELY into art, loves manga and anime, and has had a near-lifelong fascination with all that is Japanese culture.

 

Same goes for Hong Kong.  I have always wanted to stay at the Peninsula, but not sure that's the best option?  Are there any unique/fun/funky hotels out there I should be exploring (at either place)?   I think ultimately, we'll be spending a full week pre-cruise (so maybe an even split 3+3).

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In Tokyo, I'd recommend looking for a place in Shibuya.  It's a lively area that's kind of a core district for youth fashion stores.  Lots of shopping and restaurants.  It's also home to the Shibuya scramble crossing that you see in so many pictures (and was in Episode 1 of this season's Amazing Race). It's a pretty busy area so the metro and train station get really packed during peak times though.  It's also one stop away on the Yamanote circle train line from Takeshita Dori in the Harajuku area which is a well known street for teenage girl fashion (tho, it's kind of more of a tourist attraction now).  

 

The missus and I are pretty cheap so we stay in business hotels like APA or Toyoko Inns.  They're pretty basic and the rooms are small but they are optimally configured and have wifi.  There's no Toyoko Inn in Shibuya but there is a APA about a 10 min walk along one of the main streets from the station.  Alternatively, my sister's family (with teenage daughter) stayed at the Cerulean Tower which is closer to the station.  There's not really a lot of hotel options in Harajuku. 

 

Another option is staying in the Shinjuku neighbourhood which is two stations on the circle line beyond Harajuku.  Hotels are slightly cheaper here.  However, it is home to some sketchier parts like Kaukicho and its hostess bars but it's not in your face, outright sleazy.  Shinjuku's station is also more convenient if you're interested in travelling to parts outside of central Tokyo (eg. a trip to Nakano Broadway) as it's a hub for more trains.  

Akihabara is a district known for electronics, anime, etc but I'm not sure if it's the best/most convenient area to stay in. 

 

I can't think of an equivalent area for Hong Kong.  If you decide to stay at the Peninsula, that's a pretty convenient area though.  When I worked in HK, one of the areas I stayed was in Causeway Bay which has a lot of shopping and places to eat. I most recently stayed in Wan Chai area which was ok but I found we were kind of always in between places we wanted to be.  However, it's pretty easy to jump on the MTR (or bus) though to get to major areas.  They've also got ride-sharing for all the areas in between (though taxi's aren't too expensive either.)

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For a teenage girl, I shall advise against (for HK) Central or Admiralty, basically the business/banking district. Causeway Bay (on HK Island) should be a good pick, more young fashions. Mongkok on Kowloon may appeal to the younger, but is lower scale generally. It will not be wrong if you pick Tsimshatsui (TST), the traditional tourist area. But at the end, the difference is not huge, as the subway (MTR) connects all these areas and the travel time is short, HK is a compact place.

 

For Tokyo, a good area is Roppongi, upscale and close to the National Art Gallery. Night life too.

 

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For Tokyo I would suggest Shinjuku, maybe the Gramercy Hotel. It has a huge Godzilla on the rooftop terrace. Shinjuku station is one of the two main stations of Tokyo.

 

The Kowloon Hotel is a good choice for HK. Good and central location and there’s an entrance to the MRT right in the hotel.

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59 minutes ago, Miaminice said:

For Tokyo I would suggest Shinjuku, maybe the Gramercy Hotel. It has a huge Godzilla on the rooftop terrace. Shinjuku station is one of the two main stations of Tokyo.

 

The Kowloon Hotel is a good choice for HK. Good and central location and there’s an entrance to the MRT right in the hotel.

The hotel he is referring to is the Hotel Gracery Shinjuku, with the Godzilla on the top. Careful when you book, as Hotel Gracery has more than 1 location. I also think it is perfect for teenagers, and a great location. 

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2 hours ago, terry&mike said:

The hotel he is referring to is the Hotel Gracery Shinjuku, with the Godzilla on the top. Careful when you book, as Hotel Gracery has more than 1 location. I also think it is perfect for teenagers, and a great location. 

 

Thanks... damn autocorrect 😉 

However, there is only one Gracery. The hotels with the many locations are the APA hotels. One of the APAs is right next to the Gracery. 

There is also a hotel Gracery Tamachi... similar name, they are not affiliated to the Gracery though.

 

Please note: 

Rooms in Tokyo, especially at the Gracery or at the APA hotels can be tiny! Hardly enough space for two people. No room to open a suitcase besides on the bed (one at a time). So @xitappers2bx, if you are traveling with more than 2 people you should consider booking two rooms or a family room if available.

 

APA hotel:

C2FF74E0-E67C-41BD-9CBB-3FD049B7FF60.thumb.jpeg.0813451dfaf22abe1e2e2205a1dfd105.jpeg

 

Gracery:

 

9C03C6F5-EABE-4A01-B934-2C0D64E555D1.thumb.jpeg.b97e904c18d6b36459b39902bfab710e.jpeg

 

A3539B03-F85F-457F-B4D3-6B8D315EF957.thumb.jpeg.1c7ede23085421d2c6ddeb72b467c4ca.jpeg

 

Edited by Miaminice

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1 hour ago, Miaminice said:

 

Thanks... damn autocorrect 😉 

However, there is only one Gracery. The hotels with the many locations are the APA hotels. One of the APAs is right next to the Gracery. 

There is also a hotel Gracery Tamachi... similar name, they are not affiliated to the Gracery though.

 

 

 

 

 

Hotel Gracery Shinjuku and Hotel Gracery Tamachi are both part of the WHG hotel group, as are the Hotel Gracery Asakusa and the Hotel Gracery Ginza, with the Hotel Gracery Shinjuku being the only one with the Godzilla. I did not want the OP to book the wrong location. 

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We, or better our Japanese colleague, was given the information this year that they are not affiliated. Regardless... except for the size of our room, we had no complaints in the Gracery Shinjuku. Excellent breakfast with a choice of two different restaurants.

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Thank you all!  The Gracery Shinjuku looks like a great place with a fun story.  We are used to the small flats and hotels of Europe, so I'm worried less about space and more about just making sure this kid has the trip of a lifetime.  Usually I let her have her input, but she doesn't get a say.  '

 

I really appreciate you all for taking the time to respond and share photos! 

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The Gracery has another advantage: 
You can take a train from the airport to Shinjuku Station. 
At the station there´s a bus stop for a loop bus going straight to the Gracery (2nd stop I think). The bus fare is less than 1 USD.

 

Edited by Miaminice

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13 hours ago, Miaminice said:

The Gracery has another advantage: 
You can take a train from the airport to Shinjuku Station. 
At the station there´s a bus stop for a loop bus going straight to the Gracery (2nd stop I think). The bus fare is less than 1 USD.

 

 

 

How easy is the public transport system?  We only use that, and have seen some of the most amazing things because of it.  Our favorite is probably the Paris Metro, when we lived there it just became super easy.  

 

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1 hour ago, xitappers2bx said:

 

 

How easy is the public transport system?  We only use that, and have seen some of the most amazing things because of it.  Our favorite is probably the Paris Metro, when we lived there it just became super easy.  

 

I would say it's fairly comparable to the transportation network in Paris in that Tokyo has a pretty extensive metro system combined with a rail system (eg RER routes & high speed TGV ~ JR (and other) routes & high speed Shinkansen).  Also, similarly, some of the connections in the stations are kind of painful (long walks, up stairs, etc).  While there are no zones in Tokyo, it's configured for you to pay more the further you travel.  Getting from point A to B is pretty typical in that the lines are colour coded with letter abbreviation, stations numbered, and you find the direction you want to go by looking for the end station.  There's a lot of English also.  We've only run into some challenges on some of the route maps above the train ticket machines when heading to the burbs.  The tricky part is that if you are not using a pass and are buying individual tickets, you need to figure out how expensive of a ticket (eg 120Y, 140Y, etc) to buy.  However, you can also do a fare top up before exiting.  I'd highly recommend getting a pass though.  If you get data for your phone, google maps is also very helpful providing route options and pricing.  

 

When we were recently in Paris, we used a one week unlimited Navigo card (which was kind of a PITA to set up since it required a picture and a non-refundable deposit but) which was really convenient.  

In Tokyo, we typically have used the following:  

There's a 24hr/48hr/72hr metro pass that provides unlimited travel on the subway lines (note there are two lines:  Tokyo Metro and Toei Subway).  The 72hr pass is pretty good value IMO.  The problem however, is that while the combined metro system is pretty extensive, some trips (eg Shinjuku to Harajuku to Shibuya) are more convenient when taking the Yamanote circle line which is part of the JR train network (not metro/subway) and the metro passes won't cover the JR trains for trips outside of Tokyo.  

Alternatively, there's the Suica pass (and other similar cards) which is functional for both the metro lines AND most train (and bus) lines in and around Tokyo.  These are stored value cards which are rechargeable.  As with other transportation cards around the world, they're really convenient in allowing to tap in and out of the gates and can be used for payment at places like convenient stores.  However, if you end up travelling a lot, your local transportation spend can add up.  During our visit this June, we spent about $121CAD between us over 6.5days (not including transport from Narita but including transport to Haneda).

You also have to pay a refundable deposit for a Suica card.  

 

There are other card/ticket options too but we haven't really used them (other than a JRPass) so will let others provide details per their experiences. 

Travelling outside of Tokyo can get a bit confusing with different operators and special trains, etc and is probably best answered if you have a specific question.  

Similar to other metro systems, Tokyo's does not run around the clock so you need to prep for that if you stay out past midnight.   

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3 hours ago, xitappers2bx said:

 

 

How easy is the public transport system?  We only use that, and have seen some of the most amazing things because of it.  Our favorite is probably the Paris Metro, when we lived there it just became super easy.  

 

 

I‘ll put it in a nutshell: easy. Once you get the hang of it and know how to buy the tickets it is simple. We never bought daypasses but always got the tickets at the machine. Our friends bought day/weekpasses and always had the wrong pass because of the different lines.

 

Shinjuku Station and Tokyo Station are huge and can be overwhelming. So check which line you want to go before you are in the buzz 🙂

 

Trains are clean and behavior very civilized. During rush hours there can be officials „pushers“. White cloved employees shoving people into the train.

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As mentioned we prefer to buy tickets for the rides we are doing instead of buying daypasses or similar.
You will get different oppinions on that.
We followed the advice of our Japanese friends that for just a day or two we should by single tickets...
Since the process only took a few seconds, we were happy with it.

 

This is how you buy tickets:

On the wall above the vending machines you can find maps of the subway system. Usually one in Japanese and one in English.

Look for the station you want to go to and you´ll find a number right below the station name. Let´s say 200 JPY. 
Go to one of the screens (you can change the language to English), touch the button that says 200 JPN and that´s it.
Depending on the age of the machine there can be extra buttons on the left with the symbol of one person or two persons etc. on them. That´s how you choose the number of tickets.
 

In some of the newer machines this was "hidden" in the menu on the screen. To be honest I sometimes just bought one ticket at a time rather than searching for the function in the menu.

 

You can also find more explanations here: https://www.tokyometro.jp/en/tips/before.html

 

Tickets.thumb.jpg.bc0918d7750329285a51f57eb67e7804.jpg

 

 

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On 7/16/2019 at 11:34 PM, Milhouse said:

I would say it's fairly comparable to the transportation network in Paris in that Tokyo has a pretty extensive metro system combined with a rail system (eg RER routes & high speed TGV ~ JR (and other) routes & high speed Shinkansen).  Also, similarly, some of the connections in the stations are kind of painful (long walks, up stairs, etc).  While there are no zones in Tokyo, it's configured for you to pay more the further you travel.  Getting from point A to B is pretty typical in that the lines are colour coded with letter abbreviation, stations numbered, and you find the direction you want to go by looking for the end station.  There's a lot of English also.  We've only run into some challenges on some of the route maps above the train ticket machines when heading to the burbs.  The tricky part is that if you are not using a pass and are buying individual tickets, you need to figure out how expensive of a ticket (eg 120Y, 140Y, etc) to buy.  However, you can also do a fare top up before exiting.  I'd highly recommend getting a pass though.  If you get data for your phone, google maps is also very helpful providing route options and pricing.  

 

When we were recently in Paris, we used a one week unlimited Navigo card (which was kind of a PITA to set up since it required a picture and a non-refundable deposit but) which was really convenient.  

In Tokyo, we typically have used the following:  

There's a 24hr/48hr/72hr metro pass that provides unlimited travel on the subway lines (note there are two lines:  Tokyo Metro and Toei Subway).  The 72hr pass is pretty good value IMO.  The problem however, is that while the combined metro system is pretty extensive, some trips (eg Shinjuku to Harajuku to Shibuya) are more convenient when taking the Yamanote circle line which is part of the JR train network (not metro/subway) and the metro passes won't cover the JR trains for trips outside of Tokyo.  

Alternatively, there's the Suica pass (and other similar cards) which is functional for both the metro lines AND most train (and bus) lines in and around Tokyo.  These are stored value cards which are rechargeable.  As with other transportation cards around the world, they're really convenient in allowing to tap in and out of the gates and can be used for payment at places like convenient stores.  However, if you end up travelling a lot, your local transportation spend can add up.  During our visit this June, we spent about $121CAD between us over 6.5days (not including transport from Narita but including transport to Haneda).

You also have to pay a refundable deposit for a Suica card.  

 

There are other card/ticket options too but we haven't really used them (other than a JRPass) so will let others provide details per their experiences. 

Travelling outside of Tokyo can get a bit confusing with different operators and special trains, etc and is probably best answered if you have a specific question.  

Similar to other metro systems, Tokyo's does not run around the clock so you need to prep for that if you stay out past midnight.   

 

This is perfect, thank you so much for all this really great information.  I think the only reason we'd really be leaving Tokyo would be for a day trip to Disney (we're big Disney people) and then maybe do a tour with the bullet train to Mt. Fuji, but the tours I am looking at seem to include hotel pick up as standard instead of having to actually meet at the bullet train station (if that's even the right phrase). 

 

And yes, the Navigo cards are  PITA... we use the monthly ones, and I hold onto them when we are home; I try to not go through that extra hassle if not needed. 

 

 

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On 7/17/2019 at 5:03 AM, Miaminice said:

As mentioned we prefer to buy tickets for the rides we are doing instead of buying daypasses or similar.
You will get different oppinions on that.
We followed the advice of our Japanese friends that for just a day or two we should by single tickets...
Since the process only took a few seconds, we were happy with it.

 

This is how you buy tickets:

On the wall above the vending machines you can find maps of the subway system. Usually one in Japanese and one in English.

Look for the station you want to go to and you´ll find a number right below the station name. Let´s say 200 JPY. 
Go to one of the screens (you can change the language to English), touch the button that says 200 JPN and that´s it.
Depending on the age of the machine there can be extra buttons on the left with the symbol of one person or two persons etc. on them. That´s how you choose the number of tickets.
 

In some of the newer machines this was "hidden" in the menu on the screen. To be honest I sometimes just bought one ticket at a time rather than searching for the function in the menu.

 

You can also find more explanations here: https://www.tokyometro.jp/en/tips/before.html

 

Tickets.thumb.jpg.bc0918d7750329285a51f57eb67e7804.jpg

 

 

Thanks for the photo!!  I really appreciate your insight.  This isn't a trip I actually ever thought I'd be doing, we love public transportation and have always used it.  The thought of navigating in an entirely different language is surprisingly scary. 

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