Sunday, 5 July 2015

Nagomi Ryokan Yuu

The address on the Agoda website would lead you here.
However, the reception had moved to another venue just a few steps down the street perpendicular to this place.
We stood there trying to figure out what to do. The arrow on the door instructed us to press a certain button to communicate with the receptionist but as we were fiddling with it, a young lady wearing yukata came and directed us to the new reception area.
We walked along the quiet neighbourhood to the reception.
The new reception area
The chalkboards are the menu of the ryokan
The little decorated aisle leading to the reception

The small reception counter
The sitting or waiting area opposite the counter
The shoes belong to the guests who were staying in the rooms above the ryokan. The steps on the left are the 'gateway' to the rooms.
As mentioned in my previous post, we rejected the first room given to us. The ladder-to-the-bed concept was too much for us to bear. After we returned to the ryokan for the day, our new room was ready.
For safety purpose, the guests have to key in the access code to enter the hall.
The hallway leading to our room - the brown door on the left.
Our room number
The ryokan uses the traditional key-and-lock system for their doors.

What greeted us when our door was opened: tatami floor and two bed sets with sleeping robes on them.
We were quite excited by the concept of sleeping the traditional Japanese way. It's one thing to see people doing it and another doing it yourself!

And it's definitely different from the 'lay the mattress on the floor and sleep' concept.
The bed sets were comfortably soft yet thick enough to cushion us from the wooden floor. We had a good night's sleep.
The private bathroom was the tiniest we came across in all the four hotels we stayed at in Japan but it had everything we needed, except toothbrushes and toothpaste.
I had read about shared bathrooms in ryokans and had deliberately picked a room that came with a private bathroom. I thought it more convenient and comfortable to have an en-suite bathroom. Of course, a room with a private bathroom is more expensive than one with a shared bathroom but for most foreign tourists, I think price is not an issue unless the difference is great.
If there's one similarity between Japan and London and Paris, it's the existence of bathtub no matter how small the bathroom is.

Shampoo and bodywash on the water closet 

As the Chinese saying goes, 'a sparrow is tiny but the 5 main organs are intact', meaning although the place is small, it has everything you need.

The room is a little dark though.

We only discovered what appeared to be a public or shared bath just next to our room the next day when we were about to leave the ryokan.

Doesn't this look like an onsen?
The 1100 yen breakfast
Main course: rice and salmon (with lots of bones)

The hits:
1) It is an old and pretty ryokan in my opinion. I couldn't help but felt that it was quite made up though, but at least they made the effort to decorate the ryokan in a traditional way.
2) It is cheap. I paid $121 for a standard Japanese room with bathroom for 2 persons. Additionally, I paid another 1000 yen to top up for a child's (6-year-old) stay.
For breakfast, I topped up another 2200 yen for 2 persons.
3) It is clean.
The misses:
1) Across all 4 hotels that I have stayed in, Nagomi Ryokan Yuu rates the lowest in terms of service.
As a ryokan, I would expect receptionists with a more personable or friendlier personality. However, I didn't feel that way. On the contrary, I thought they were quite cold, although polite nonetheless, and not as helpful compared to the Tokyo receptionists.
2) As mentioned in my previous post, I had wanted a kimono dress-up session but was turned down because 'all sessions were booked'. To be fair, the receptionist did try to offer alternative timings but they were all inappropriate for me eg. 12pm on the first day (but I would be out by 11am), 3pm on the next day (but I would have checked out of the ryokan and on my way to other places for sightseeing already). However, I thought a more appropriate way is to offer alternative shops or let me know where I could get the service on my own. What I had felt was there was no alternative. If you had missed booking it, you wouldn't have it at all. As it was, I found out the next day that I could have done it on my own, just that as a tourist, I lacked the knowledge of where such shops were.
3) The receptionist even charged me 20 yen for the two-minute phone call she made to the kimono dress-up shop for the enquiry of the timing. My thought was "Wah, so hard up ah? Like this also want to charge?" It's a small sum but the ryokan had paid more for it. What kind of impression, which would translate into a reputation, has it left on the guest?
4) I decided to send the heavy luggage ahead of us to the partner hotel at Disneyland so that my mother and I could be spared from carrying heavy stuff. I felt that it was quite worth it as the courier service at Hotel Sunroute Plaza Shinjuku cost only about 2800 yen for 2 luggage (1300 yen for a 22-inch and 1500 yen for a 24-inch), so I thought that the hand-carry luggage should cost less.
To my not-so-pleasant surprise, after diligently measuring my luggage, Nagomi Ryokan Yuu charged 1700 yen for every single luggage, regardless of the sizes! It totalled up to 5100 yen for 3 luggage.
When I whipped out my receipts at Hotel Sunroute Plaza as proof, the receptionist coldly told me that they were using a different company.
Of course I paid obediently. My thought was "Then why bother to measure the luggage in the first place? Just say 1700 yen per luggage will do lah!"
5) Breakfast was not delicious. It was just that, ordinary and plain. The Kyoto train station's bento that cost just 1000 yen was more delicious than their breakfast.
6) The ryokan had given us a list of rules to abide by. As a result, we had to remember to keep our volume low for fear of disturbing other guests. We had to remember to mind our behaviour when we stepped out into the neighbourhood street ...
It is not as if we were the rowdiest tourists on earth, but when you are given a set of rules in black and white so formally, it becomes rather binding and restricting. I found myself asking my mother, repeatedly, not to speak loudly when we were in the room. I have never done that before since a hotel room is supposed to be a private place. I didn't really enjoy the stay with the constant need to remember to behave well. Perhaps it was just me. Other guests might not have treated the set of rules so seriously.
The in-between:
The location.
It is located about 7- to 10-minute walk from Gojo Subway Station, just one stop away from Kyoto Station.
I would not find it too inconvenient, just that the walk can be a little confusing for us. On the second day when we were walking to the station, we lost our way in the neighbourhood and came out the wrong way. We spent a good 15 or 20 minutes getting to the station.

Will I come back again? No. Not for the service for sure, and we know that service is quite important for a hotel or ryokan when you are unfamiliar with a place.

Do I recommend this ryokan? Well, I wouldn't write it off as a resounding 'No'. However, I would ask you to look around for something better first.

But this experience makes my mother and I feel that a hotel stay is better than a ryokan stay any time.

So, I am not stating the ryokan or the directions here. You can google for it if you are interested. :)

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