Sunday, December 2, 2012

Hostel Review: Gojo Guesthouse Review

Japanese culture is shown again and again in anime. Eggs in soups, sitting on the floor barefoot/with socks, the chime of the school bell, and the tatami rooms.

I wanted to try staying in a tatami. I was willing to pay the price of JPY 8,000 to 10,000 even for just one night just to try it.  Luckily, I didn’t have to because I found a tatami-style dorm in Kyoto: Gojo Guesthouse. I was quite apprehensive about the place because the website was very basic, but functional - not a lot of frills and whatnots that I usually see in dorm websites. The review in Tripadvisor was overall positive so I decided give it a try. I emailed my request, and I just had no confirm my arrival weeks before my arrival date. Didn’t have to pay any downpayment. If you cancel/change your reservation on the day before arrival, they require 50% of total charge. If you cancel/change your reservation on the arrival day, they charge 100% of the room rate. Pretty reasonable.

Don't miss the "Gojo Cafe" sign

Finding the dorm is quite straightforward:

The guesthouse is near convenience stores. It is a 10-15 minute walk from everything: central area, temples, and other sights. Reaching the guesthouse is pretty straightforward, just 10 minutes away from Gion station. Just pay attention to the "Gojo Cafe" sign or you might miss it.

I got “slightly” lost because I made the wrong turn, but there were some students who gladly helped me find my way.  
The check-in time is still 3pm.  It was still quite early so I left my luggage first, paid for the room (they only accept cash so bring enough yen). I was famished when I reached the dorm so went out to a convenience store nearby to grab some snack.

I stayed in the tatami dorm room for four nights: for ¥ 2,500 per night. I shared the room with 4 other girls. The room was very spacious for 4 pax. The room was kept clean during my stay. Hangers were provided. The futon mattress was super cozy and clean, I loved sleeping after a long day of roaming around. Just be careful not to scrape on the wooden walls. It’s texture is somewhat similar to a bulletin board corkboard (but not exactly like that), so if you accidentally scrape it, some particles fall on your mattress. I learned that when I leaned against the wall for some time.

They have an extension cord that can accommodate all the electronic devices of the dormers. They have small lockers where you can store all your valuable stuff. Locker is outside the room.

Now, the toilets. The Japanese style toilets are on the second floor while the western type toilets are on the first floor. You squat to use the Japanese toilet, you sit using the western toilet. If you have to use the toilet in the middle of the night and you want the western toilet, you have to go downstairs.

The shared shower is located on the ground floor. You can only take a bath at certain times. It wasn't really inconvenient but you have to take note of that - no midnight showers and so extremely early showers either. I shower before bed to wash off the grime of the day, so it irked me a bit to take note of that.

The shared shower room has 3 stalls, shared by both male and female. So do expect that a guy may shower at the stall beside you. You have to dress inside the stall/box/cubicle. You can hang your clothes inside, just be careful not to splash water everywhere. 

They have a sink on the second floor so you can brush your teeth and wash your face there. Remember to wash your dishes.

They also have a fridge, an electric stove, and a toaster that you can use. And donate your leftover food! I scored some instant coffee in the free food box.

A load in the washing machine costs ¥ 200, and a load in the dryer costs ¥ 100. Have some change handy.

The guesthouse has this cozy cafe where you can hang out. Wifi signal is okay there. They give you coupons that you can use in the cafe. But it opens relatively late (8:30-ish to 9 I think) if you wanna have your breakfast there. So I just buy my breakfast in the convenience stores nearby.

The cozy Gojo cafe

The common room is a cozy place to hang out. Met some cool fellow travellers here who helped me out in planning my trip to Arashiyama and Nara. The common room is filled with guidebooks that can help you plan your trip if you are backpacking around Japan.  

You can also use their printer. Had them print my return plane ticket booking. Really helpful staff here. The reception people were very helpful. They sell the Kyoto Bus Pass which costs ¥ 500. 

Gojo Guesthouse is a quaint real Japanese style guesthouse that can suit your needs, and fit your budget. I didn't think the bathroom was really an issue. The staff here is really helpful... and the location is a winner!

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