ANA Crowne Plaza Hiroshima, Hiroshima, Japan

After Kyoto I jumped on the Shinkansen to Shin-Osaka, and then a second Shinkansen to Hiroshima. It’s around a 2 hour trip depending on how much time you need to wait for the connecting Shinkansen at Shin-Osaka.

There’s no shuttle bus from Hiroshima Station to the Crowne Plaza in Hiroshima but it’s quite easy to get to. Exit the station and get the Number 1 tram to the Fukuro-machi tram stop (second stop after the tram turns left) and it’s about a 2 minute walk to the hotel. Door to door about 25 minutes and costs ¥180.

One thing to be mindful of is that you can’t use a Suica card on the trams in Hiroshima. I purchased a Kansai One Pass in Kyoto which is an ICOCA card which will work on the trams.

I’d previously made a day trip to Hiroshima from Kyoto – it was a long day (including mistakenly getting on a Nozomi on the return trip which is a no-no if you’re using a JR Pass) and I decided then that I had to return and explore some more.

From the map above you’ll see that the hotel is in a pretty good location. Just a stones throw from the Peace Park, Hon Dori and Okonomi-mura. And getting around is good as you’re close to trams and trains.

I had a very nice room away from the lifts with a view, albeit partially obstructed, of the peace park and museum.

Good, modern hotel in a great location.

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ANA Crowne Plaza Kyoto, Kyoto, Japan

The Shinkansen from Shinagawa Station (Tokyo) arrived at Kyoto Station right on time and I headed out to the hotel shuttle bus stop. And luckily the bus was waiting and I was able to jump on and not wait on the 35 degree heat for 20 minutes.

It’s about a 15 minute drive from Kyoto Station to the hotel. The location can’t be faulted and I was lucky enough to get a room with a view of Nijo Castle.

Apart from the shuttle bus the hotel is about a 5 minute walk from Nijojo-mae subway station which runs east west under Oike Dori.

My room was almost identical to the room I had when I stayed here in 2015.

I was determined to not eat hotel meals during this trip but rather get out and explore the local cafes and restaurants. Although I did have a beer in the lobby lounge because it was just so damn hot!

During the summer they also have a rooftop bar and restaurant on the roof that opens up in the early evening. I went up just before sunset on my final night in Kyoto and was able to watch the sunset while overlooking Nijo Castle, all while drinking beer as part of their “all you can drink for 2 hours for ¥2200” deal. ¥2200 is about AU$25… so not bad, and I’m pretty sure I got my moneys worth. 🙂

The hotel is undergoing a refurb at the moment which is good. My only issues were the air conditioning in the room was less than ideal, and the Wifi internet can be a little flaky at times.

 

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InterContinental Tokyo Bay, Tokyo, Japan

Having landed at Narita Airport at the start of my 3rd Japan trip, I jumped on the next Keisei Skyliner for Nippori Station where I transferred to the Yamanote line arriving at Hamamatsucho Station just in time for the last shuttle bus to my hotel.

I wanted to stay in Tokyo rather than Narita as I wanted to hit the ground running the next day to get the logistics sorted. Most importantly I wanted to be near either Tokyo or Shinagawa station as I needed to exchange my JR Pass, reserve a seat for my transit to Kyoto and finally board the Shinkansen.

I’ve stayed at both of the InterContinental Hotels in Tokyo before but it made more sense for me to overnight at the InterContinental Tokyo Bay as it had the shuttle buses to both Hamamatsucho and Shinagawa stations, and I had more than enough IHG rewards points for a free night.

The only downside is the hotel is a little off the beaten track, and probably a 10 or 15 minute walk to restaurant area around Hamamatsucho Station. Which isn’t that much fun in a hot Tokyo summer.

I was upgraded to a suite of the same design as my last stay. The room was magnificent and a great place to relax after travelling for around 15 hours.

Check-in and check-out was efficient and staff ever pleasant.

Great hotel!

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Garden State Hotel, Melbourne, Australia

I don’t normally walk along Flinders Lane but have now been here two weeks in a row after Supernormal last week.

A couple of us decided to head out for a beer after work and a friend chose the Garden State Hotel on Flinders Lane.

Given the proximity to Collins Street the place was heaving when I arrived just before 6pm on a Thursday night.

The venue is a sprawling place over 4 levels with a couple of bars to grab drinks from.

We managed to nab a table down the back towards the Rose Garden under the trees, it was a very nice location and there was a standard choice of beers and a bar menu.

We decided to eat here but we should have known the meal wouldn’t be overly good when we ordered our steaks medium-rare only to be told we’d get them how the chef decided to cook them! Seriously, WTF? For $22 we got an overcooked minute steak that was quite underwhelming. The only saving grace were the Roasted Potatoes.

The way the place has been built, with bare concrete walls and glass roof made the place an echo chamber so it was impossible to have a conversation over the noise of everyone else and the blaring music.

So after we finished our food we decided that we’d move onto somewhere where you could actually talk to the person next to you.

By all means, go to the Garden State Hotel for drink, but I’d be skipping the food!

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The Elysian Whisky Bar, Fitzroy, Melbourne, Australia

Are you a Whisky fan? Do you like tasting gems that you’ll probably never see again. If you answered yes to both of these then you should jump on the number 11 tram and head down to Brunswick Street Fitzroy.

Elysian was started by a couple of folk who used to work at Whisky and Alement in the city and rather than stock the same whiskies that everyone else does, the Elysian team strive to stock the bar with unique and limited edition bottles.

While we perused the extensive menu we started with a decent local pale ale by Hawkers Beer.

But it wasn’t too long until we started our tour of whiskies of the world.

First stop was a Japanese blended malt – Ichiro’s Malt Mizunara Wood Reserve. A splendid drop to start the evening with. See https://www.masterofmalt.com/whiskies/ichiros-malt-mizunara-wood-reserve-whisky/.

We then moved Scotland for a 17 year old single malt from Gordon & MacPhail. The Ledaig 1999 Connoisseurs Choice was had subtle flavours followed by a very smoky aftertaste. See https://www.masterofmalt.com/whiskies/tobermory/ledaig-1999-bottled-2015-connoisseurs-choice-gordon-and-macphail-whisky/.

We back tracked to India once I saw an Amrut on the list. We ordered an Amrut single cask 888 a very dark whisky with a very fruity smell and taste – almost reminded me of a sticky. I particularly liked this drop. See https://www.thewhiskycompany.com.au/product/amrut-cask-888-virgin-oak-matured-indian-single-cask-whisky/.

Lastly we headed over to the US for a Noah’s Mill small batch bourbon. It’s a blend of whiskeys from 4 to 20 years old. It was a contrast to what we’d been drinking and took me back to my uni days. A decent nip to finish of the evening. See https://www.masterofmalt.com/Whiskies/noahs-mill-whisky/.

There’s a small kitchen that serves a small number of dishes to accompany your drinks. We shared the cured meat selection which would have been the size of a entree.

If you love unique whiskies then you should make your way to Elysian.

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