I spent the last couple of weeks chronicling my trip on the inaugural 787 Dreamliner flight from BOS to NRT. I skipped over my actual time in Tokyo because I figured the Dreamliner story was more compelling to airline enthusiasts. I’m planning to spend the next few days trying to remember the whirlwind 41 hours I spent in Tokyo.
Most people go to Asia for a couple of weeks. It’s obviously a long flight (13+ hours from Boston), so why bother coming for just a day or two? I figure the majority of my blog readers are divided up into two groups of people. The first group is comprised of those people who already know I’m crazy enough to do this and still love me in spite of my craziness. The other group are those friends of mine who would have taken my spot in an instant. I figure both will enjoy a quick walk through Tokyo with me.
We arrived around 5pm in Tokyo to a group of Japan Airlines (JAL) employees welcoming us. A quick trip through passport control (although not nearly as quick as the US Global Entry system) and I was on my way.
I’ve always tried to navigate new cities using the subway/train, and Tokyo wasn’t going to be any different. Narita airport is a hike from downtown (about 50 miles) and a taxi cab can easily set you back $200. A few of my friends who have visited Tokyo suggested the hotel limo bus, which is a more comfortable bus you share with other passengers that drops you off at your hotel.
Instead, I chose to take the train and then walk the last mile or so to my hotel. Life had been super busy leading up to this trip, so I had learned exactly zero Japanese. I had a translation app on my iPhone that worked okay, but I was definitely in over my head. Thankfully, the agent at the ticket counter spoke English and was able to help me buy a ticket to Shinegawa, the station nearest my hotel. A quick walk to the platform and I was waiting for my train.
It was an extra $15 or so to upgrade to a first class ticket. A good friend of mine had told me it wasn’t worth it, since the regular seats were just fine and the train was usually pretty empty. However, it cost him more money to upgrade to first than they were offering me, so I took the slightly more comfortable seat for $15. There were only one or two other people in my cabin, so I was able to spread out comfortably for the roughly hour journey to Shinegawa.
I decided to walk from the Shinegawa station to the Sheraton Miyako. On the map, it was just over a mile. It turned out to be almost all uphill, and with a bit of light rain mixed in. I’m not in the best shape, but the walk was still worth it, IMO. It was interesting to walk through different neighborhoods and see how the residential areas looked. It appeared there were some lower-middle class neighborhoods right alongside some more modern upscale apartments, with a mix of retail and restaurants. Most of the roads I walked were fairly narrow, and I felt safe along the entire walk.
I arrived at the Sheraton Miyako and was checked in quickly and on the way to my room. This Sheraton doesn’t have a club for Platinum members, so I was offered drinks in the lobby. The room itself was serviceable and sizable, if not awe-inspiring. The bed was very comfortable, along with a couch and desk area that felt spacious. I wasn’t sure what to expect, and was pleased that the rooms were somewhat modern and a decent size. My room was down the end of a hall, so I suspect it was a bit bigger than the standard room.
The bathroom was also a decent size, and had one of Tokyo’s best amenities, a heated toilet seat! This was my first experience with such a creation, and it was pretty darn cool. The toilet also came with a control panel that sported more buttons than my Apple TV remote, and almost as many as my Fios remote. I decided not to venture into the world of sprays and buttons, but was amused at the myriad options available to me.
I was also pleased to see a full-size shower with awesome water pressure. It’s one of the few things I generally dislike about European travel. It can sometimes be hard to find showers that aren’t built for midgets, and good water pressure is something I’ve found only at some of the top properties I’ve stayed at.
The following morning, I had a brief moment to wander the property in daylight. I noticed that the lobby bar and some of the rooms face a fairly nice garden on the back side of the hotel.
All in all, this is a fine property to stay at. It’s definitely not one of the aspirational SPG properties I’ve stayed at. It’s also a bit out of the way. I took one cab from the hotel to another part of town and it set me back a quick $50. Most of the sightseeing areas are not near Shinegawa. It’s a category 5, which means 12,000 points a night. There’s a Westin in Tokyo as well, but it’s a category 6 (20,000 points). Based on pictures I’ve seen and reviews, I don’t think it’s worth the extra 8,000 points a night.
Next up is my review on the Tsukiji fish market.