Switching gears from recent posts about Qatar Qsuites and the Al Safwa First Lounge, the next posts finish my report on a very memorable trip to Japan this Spring for sakura season. This post covers a one-night stay at the Royal Park Hotel at Haneda Airport. The next ones cover ANA’s Haneda first class lounge and first class flight on ANA from Tokyo to Chicago.
The flight back to America was leaving the day after I returned to Tokyo from the detour to Okinawa to visit my nephew. The question presented was where to spend my last night in Tokyo.
It was a binary choice. One, stay in Tokyo, or two, stay at the airport. I decided to stay at the airport. Let’s look at the hotel for the stay and then briefly examine factors that went into the decision.
Royal Park Hotel
The Royal Park Hotel is located in Haneda International Airport Terminal 3. I arrived at Terminal 1, the domestic terminal, and took a free hybrid shuttle bus to Terminal 3.
There is an entrance to the hotel behind check in Pier L.
The Royal Park Hotel’s best feature is its obvious convenience for international flights. Other features and services include a staffed 24-hour front desk, concierge, baggage storage, luggage carts, free WiFi, international restaurant serving breakfast, lunch and diner, currency exchange, laundry and dry cleaning. Those wanting other food options can enjoy a range of pre-security restaurants nearby. Several fast and reasonably priced restaurants can be accessed via an escalator just outside the entrance to the hotel from the check-in area.
I paid about $125 for my room. I think the price was reasonable compared to the price of hotels in Tokyo generally and $75/night I paid on this trip for a smaller room at the b Akasaka – Mitsuke Hotel. Prices at this hotel seem to be slightly less and reviews are a tad better than for the hotel in Terminal 2, the Haneda Excel Tokyu Hotel. More on that hotel later.
You can bring luggage carts from the airport directly to your room and vice versa. That was very helpful. The hotel corridors are long, my room was at the very end, and I was carrying my luggage because the handle of my carry-on bag was broken. (Imagine that – actually carrying luggage.)
I selected a non-smoking double, the least expensive room in the house. Room size is 15 square meters.
The TV is situated on the desk in front of the bed.
The bathroom is complete with tub and shower, toilet/bidet and personal amenities.
The bathroom overlooks the runway complex.
The room came with slippers and a robe.
Other room features included a safe, flat-screen TV with satellite channels and pay movies for a nominal charge, air purifier and humidifier, refrigerator, bottled water, and complimentary tea.
Earlier I mentioned the Excel Tokyu Hotel, which is in Terminal 2. That hotel has a feature aviation buffs would enjoy. The Superior Cockpit Room has an operational stationary 737-800 flight simulator. It is pricey. Room rates start at 25,300 Yen, just over $230 per night. Using the simulator requires booking a 90-minute session with an instructor. That runs another 30,000 Yen. For aviation otaku (geeks) that may be a small price to pay to learn how to fly a 737.
While a hotel room with a 737 cockpit appeals to the pilot in me, it also somehow seems a bit creepy. The room reminds me of the end of Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey when Dave, the surviving astronaut, is marooned with his space pod in what looks like a luxurious hotel room. I’d be afraid of walking out of the bathroom and finding some old guy sleeping in the bed.
Factors To Evaluate When Considering Staying At An Airport Hotel
A myriad of factors enter into deciding if it makes sense to stay at an airport hotel. The relative importance of each factor varies from trip to trip.
All other things being equal, I prefer centrally located hotels over airport hotels. Compared to most airports, a city center has easier access to restaurants, shopping, public transportation, and local activities and attractions. I like airports, but major airports are very similar all over the world. Being in the city provides a stronger sense of the people and culture of a place. Airports, naturally, are dominated by tourists.
But there are times when staying at an airport is best. The factors influencing my choice the most are:
- Is it a layover
- Departure time
- Knowledge of the city/ public transportation
- Trip duration
Layover. You can’t beat the convenience of airport hotels for overnight or long layovers. A hotel like the Royal Park Hotel lets passengers stay right inside the terminal. An airport hotel with a free shuttle is almost as convenient. In many large cities, getting to/from the city center can be a headache and costly.
For ultimate convenience, a few airports have hotels inside the secured area proper. The Mercure Hotel at Amsterdam Schipol airport and hotels connected with the Matina Lounges at Seoul/Incheon are examples. Some airports have hotel-lite, rent-by-the-hour options like Minute Suites in the U. S. or sleep pods like at Abu Dhabi. Be careful when booking because some hotels claim to be “airport” hotels when they aren’t located near the airport. If the hotel doesn’t have a free shuttle, I don’t consider it is an airport hotel.
Departure time. Another important factor is the time of flight. I hate getting up in the wee hours of the morning or dealing with crowded public transportation or rush hour traffic. If a flight is leaving very early in the morning or at a time of day when getting to the airport is problematic, I’ll sometimes book the last night at an airport hotel.
Knowledge of city/public transportation. Missing a flight can be costly in time and treasure. If it is my first time in a large city (foreign or domestic), I will sometimes stay at an airport hotel before departure to alleviate the anxiety of getting to the airport. I prefer to take public transportation. When there is some uncertainty about which lines to take, transfers from one transportation mode to another, directions, language issues, etc., staying at the airport the night before departure is so much easier. The next time, I might be familiar enough with the city and process to get to the airport the day of departure.
Trip duration. Sometimes after a long trip I’m just tired. That was the case with the sakura season trip. I packed many activities into the trip and it was a relief to simplify the departure. Plus, I wanted to ensure having time to enjoy ANA’s first-class lounge at Haneda.
Posts about that lounge and ANA first class on the 777-300ER are next. Stay tuned, and thanks for reading the blog!
In sum, the Royal Park Hotel is an excellent airport hotel because it is in the terminal and reasonably priced (for Tokyo). Haneda Airport is not far from central Tokyo. Getting to the airport takes less than 30 minutes by taxi and less than one hour by public transportation from central Tokyo. At the end of a relatively long trip and being unsure of the public transportation options, I found the Royal Park Hotel to be an excellent airport hotel because it is in the terminal and reasonably priced (for Tokyo). Now that American airlines are shifting more flights from Narita to Haneda, I’ll have more opportunities to become familiar with Tokyo and its transportation options so that staying in the city for the last night before departure will be more feasible.
Why would you to choose to stay at an airport hotel rather than one more centrally located?