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Nagoya - Japan

Living up to what is expected of Japan's fourth largest city, Nagoya offers travellers a wide range of accommodation from penthouse suites to communal rooms, with just enough in between to satisfy everyone else. The main business and tourist areas offer accommodation for a variety of pocketbooks, with the Nagoya Station and Fushimi areas offering the greatest number and diversity of hotels. However, be aare that in Japan room prices are determined more by the number of people staying in the room rather than by the number of beds. Another thing to remember is that although the number of visitors to Nagoya does not approach that of Tokyo, the city is the hub of Japan's third major commercial and industrial region--so it is prudent to reserve accommodation in advance.

At the top of the scale is the Nagoya Marriott Associa Hotel. This 52-story hotel is conveniently located over Nagoya Sation. The building also houses Takashimaya, the city's top department store, and some of Nagoya's finest restaurants. And it offers a view of the city that only a structure of its magnitude can provide. Next on the list is the long-standing favourite in the Fushimi area, the Hilton Nagoya, a hotel with an incredible range of facilities that should satisfy the needs of even the most discerning traveller. Or you may want to opt for the luxury of the Hotel Century Hyatt Nagoya, which offers only doubles and suites. These three hotels are all conveniently located near to all the local attractions. Rooms start from about JPY25,000 and range upwards of JYP100,000 for those considerably more well-heeled.

In Nagoya, like in any other big city, you will get what you pay for, granted in a smaller portion. As in the rest of Japan, space is at a premium, rendering rooms slightly smaller than their Western counterparts, but the services that you will receive from the hotel staff more than make up for the lack of space. As the Japanese word for guest is a highly revered term, you will never be confused as to who is being served.

Stepping down one notch to the medium-priced hotels, you may find them lacking in the lavish amenities of their cousins, but services only slightly change. The Meitetsu Grand Hotel and Nagoya Sakae Tokyu Inn are included in this middle-of-the-road group and begin around JPY11,000 for a single. Slightly cheaper, but with an excellent range of services and facilities, is the Nagoya Castle Plaza Hotel. This gem of a hotel has all of the facilities of the top-class establishments, but the luxury of a much lower price. Most of the hotels in this range will still offer English-speaking staff, cable TV and convenient access to the city centre. They will also be able to organize tours for you, so do not be afraid to ask for this service.

Lower-priced hotels starting in the range of JPY6,000 often fall into the category of "business" hotels, as they are known in Japan, because they are primarily used by travelling businessmen, providing little more than a bathroom and a bed. Two good hotels in this category are the Hotel Sun Plaza and the Nagoya Station Hotel. These hotels do not offer many amenities nor do they have English-speaking staff, but they are clean and safe. Most business hotels also have a restaurant that serves the three essential meals that all travellers need. And breakfast usually gives you the option of eating bacon and eggs or trying local or Asian cuisine.

On the distant end of the spectrum are the youth hostels. Like any city in the world, Nagoya also has its variety of these cheap and convenient places to stay. Designed for the traveller on a limited budget, or those just looking for a bit more adventure, youth hostels are a favourite with college-age tourists. Ranging in price from JPY2,000 to around JPY4,000, hostels offer clean though Spartan, adequate sleeping space. Although the staff may not be much good at speaking English, or any other foreign language for that matter, many of the patrons will be more than willing to lend a helping hand to those in need. Nagoya features hostels near the main train stations as well as near points of interest for foreign travellers.

All visitors to Japan should experience at least one night in a ryokan, or traditional inn. Ryokans can be large, modern concrete structures with banqueting halls, shopping facilities and enormous baths or they can be small, ancient wooden buildings with baths that are just big enough to accommodate a few people at a time. If you are short of time and travelling on a limited budget, you could try Ryokan Meiryu, which is centrally located and moderately priced. Some of the characteristics they all share, however, are the sleeping arrangement, the cuisine and the costume. You will always sleep on a futon laid out on the tatami matting. The food will always be Japanese, ranging from simple home cooking in the ryokans at the lower end of the scale to the top-class kaiseki, or a full traditional dinner course, in the more exclusive resorts. And you will be given a yukata and slippers to change into after a soak in the hot tub. Those with time and money to spare will appreciate a night in Gizan Ryokan or Yumoto Choza, two luxurious inns located in the mountains about three hours from the city centre—some journey, you might say, but you will never forget the experience.
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