Hotel Gracery Shinjuku

Prologue

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From manga and music to movies and anime, Japan’s pop culture movement ranks among one of the most influential sources of entertainment around the world, prompting a series of collaborations with various businesses in recent times. The country’s hoteliers have joined in to offer a variety of themed accommodations centered around iconic franchises and characters, with Fujita Kanko’s Hotel Gracery Shinjuku being the newest addition through its association with one of the best-known icons of Japanese pop culture – Godzilla. We stopped by to find out more.

 

Location / Accessibility

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Situated in the heart of Shinjuku’s colourful Kabukicho entertainment district on the site of the old Koma Theatre, Hotel Gracery Shinjuku is easily accessible for travellers with the east exit of the nearby JR Shinjuku Station (where the Narita Express trains stop), as well as the Seibu Shinjuku Station a 5-minute walk away. The 30-floor building, which houses a multiple-screen cineplex, stands as a landmark in the area with a distinctive life-sized Godzilla head and claw perched on the 8-floor terrace, overlooking the busy streets below which remain bustling well into the night. The immediate neighbourhood has plenty to offer, with dining outlets, bars and clubs, as well as the world-famous Robot Restaurant cabaret steps away from the hotel, while shopping malls and major department stores can be found further afield.

 

Arrival Experience

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We arrived in the evening on foot after a longer-than-usual walk from JR Shinjuku Station, having taken a wrong exit. Heading in the general direction, we relied on Google Maps to navigate through the streets and alleys towards Kabukicho. From there, it was hard to miss the hotel’s huge building and landmark Godzilla head as a reference amidst the bright neon signs and flashing lights (which were admittedly rather overwhelming after a 3-hour Shinkansen ride from Kyoto).

 

Making our way to the elevators, we were faced with a sprawling reception hall on the 8th floor that would not have looked out-of-place in a small airport and were promptly ushered to one of the many agents available. We felt the hotel lost out on an opportunity to wow the guest with a personalized check-in experience, given how our late arrival time allowed us to avoid the peak period crowds for this 970-room property. Instead, the check-in process itself felt very transactional with the agent collecting the room charges in advance and reminding us that losing our key cards will incur a penalty from the hotel.

 

Guestrooms

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Nonetheless, keycard in-hand we made our way up to our room on the 30th floor. This was the hotel’s top floor which scuppered our chances of staying in one of the Godzilla-view rooms, but instead rewarded us with……

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……one of the best views of metropolitan Tokyo with landmarks including the Tokyo Skytree, Tokyo Tower and the Rainbow Bridge visible.

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The room itself was more in-line with accommodation in Tokyo, where high real estate prices meant space was a premium compared to other cities. Our Standard Twin Room measured 24 square meters, with most of the space accommodating a pair of plush supersingle-sized beds and a small sitting area.

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Separated from the sleeping area by a sliding door is the open-plan bathroom, comprising a shower and bath on one side and the toilet on another, with the sink and vanity positioned in between. We felt this was a clever use of the limited space and the layout allowed both occupants to wash up simultaneously. The bathroom was of a Japanese-style with a stool and low shower as opposed to the more common shower stall, together with a deep-soaking tub that fills in exactly 9 minutes.

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The wall-mounted flatscreen television provided a mix of Japanese and international channels, but reception for certain channels could be improved. There was also an interactive menu highlighting the hotel facilities together with a short feature of a simulated Godzilla attack, while on-demand movies could be accessed via the purchase of a ticket from the vending machine in the hallway.

 

This was also one of the few hotels in Japan that provided a bedside USB port, which we found especially useful for charging our electronic devices given that the local electrical outlets (although plentiful) necessitated the use of an adaptor. Being under a year old, the in-room amenities were still in fairly good condition and included the usual corded telephone, LAN cable, electronic safe, kettle, air purifier and a mini-fridge deliberately left empty for guests to stock with drinks purchased from the convenience store or……

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……from the vending machines found in the hallway of every floor together with an ice machine.

 

Dining

Amidst the plethora of dining options found in the immediate vicinity, Hotel Gracery Shinjuku operates 2 food & beverage venues for guests.

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Bonsalute Kabuki is the hotel’s main restaurant serving Italian favorites including pastas and pizzas, along with a full buffet lineup each morning for breakfast. Food was plentiful with ample choice of Chinese, international and Japanese food items and the venue saw a steady stream of diners every morning creating a fast-paced atmosphere.

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In contrast, breakfast was a relaxed and leisurely affair at Cafe Terrasse Bonjour. This was the hotel’s deli and lobby bar serving a continental spread in the morning. While the selection lacked in variety, it is compensated by a more pleasant ambiance (from the lesser number of guests at any time) and a view of the giant Godzilla head.

 

Facilities

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We found the business facilities at Hotel Gracery Shinjuku to be rather limited with just a small self-service area comprising several workstations as opposed to a full-fledged business centre. Brochures to the city’s attractions could be picked up from the shelf beside it, while the concierge desk doubled as a retail store for Godzilla merchandise.

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An attraction in itself, the “King of Monsters” holds a commanding presence throughout the hotel’s public spaces. The 8th floor terrace serves as a gallery and tribute to the Godzilla franchise, headlined by its life-sized head and claw of the giant radioactive monster together with 3 wall carvings depicting notable scenes from the Godzilla movies.

 

Service / Staff

We found the overall service at the hotel to be satisfactory, but otherwise unmemorable. During our stay, we observed that staff members carried out their duties efficiently but without a connection with guests, which was a pity as this was an opportunity lost for the hotel to achieve guest satisfaction and generate repeat business.

 

Verdict

With a great location and decent hard product for leisure travellers seeking a base from where to explore Tokyo, Hotel Gracery Shinjuku is an affordable accommodation option in a city where hotel room rates are among the highest in the world. However, this comes at a price as the service standards and guest facilities take a back seat to the Godzilla theme, with the memorabilia on-display drawing fans of the movie franchise, contributing to a crowded public space.

 

Hotel Gracery Shinjuku

1-19-1 Kabukicho, Shinjuku-ku

Tokyo 160-0021

Japan

+81 3 6833 2489

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