Ramen Restuarant, Ground Floor, 323 La Trobe St, Melbourne, Australia

Gotta be honest… don’t even bother!

Foodwise, if you’ve been to Japan you WILL be disappointed by the ramen served here!

Secondly – recently the rules around credit charge surcharges were changed in Australia. A lot of businesses were using credit card surcharges to add to their profits, rather than treating the costs as a pass through cost.

What this means is that the old “$1 surcharge under $15” sales is now illegal in Australia as the $1 flat charge does not reflect the cost of doing business.

Unfortunately, this restaurant refuses to adhere to those rules and feels that it can charge a flat fee for some credit charge transactions.

When I advised the counter staff what they were doing was wrong the owner came out and was quite confrontational and irrational. They obviously have no idea of their legal responsibilities.

I’ve reported them to the ACCC for illegal credit card surcharges and hopefully they’re out of business soon – for both reasons! 1) not good food, and 2) not living upto the credit card surcharges rules.

In short, don’t bother!

Hotel Metropolitan Nagano, Nagano, Japan

As the Shinkansen from Kanazawa pulled into Nagano Station I studied my google map to make sure that I headed in the direction of my hotel. I thought I’d kept track of the turns that I’d taken but proceeded to exit the wrong side of the station. It took be a couple of minutes to get my bearings but I soon saw the signs directing me to Hotel Metropolitan Nagano right next to Nagano Station.

As I was to find out the hotel is connected to the station through the shopping mall. So you can get to the hotel from the station without going outside.

Nagano is a small city, so you will have no issues walking from the hotel to many of the tourist sites that you will have on your bucket list and there are many good, cheap restaurants in the area surrounding the hotel.

After the cubby hole I was in in Kanazawa my room was huge, probably 4 times larger that my Kanazawa room. The bathroom was probably the size of the bedroom part of my Kanazawa room!

Check-in and check-out were fast.

The king size bed was comfortable as were the pillows. I did hear some faint noises from the adjoining rooms, but it wasn’t enough to cause any discomfort.

Looking back at the room, location and price, this would be one of the best value hotels I’ve stayed in in many years of travelling.

ANA Crowne Plaza Kanazawa, Kanazawa, Japan

After the relatively long, and slow, train trip from Shin-Osaka to Kanazawa, I popped out of Kanazawa station and spied the ANA Crowne Plaza about 200 metres away.

A quick efficient check-in followed and I was off to my room.

The room was very small, just big enough for the double bed and a small desk. Certainly the smallest hotel room I’ve ever been in. It was then that I noticed a small piece of paper that I was given at check-in apologizing that the hotel was full and I wouldn’t be able to have my usual room upgrade, but to make up for that disappointment I was advised that I could eat and drink the contents of the minibar throughout my stay, and it was refilled everyday! I was happy with the outcome.

The hotel and Kanazawa station are a short walk, 15 or 20 minuutes, from the main drag, but there are a multitude of bus routes terminating just outside the station to get you anywhere you wanted to go.

You can purchase a daily ticket that works on the tourist buses as well as the local buses. And if you have a JR Pass you can jump on the JR Buses. So you’ll have no problems getting anywhere you want to go.

There is a small bar on the top floor with some good views of the Kanazawa skyline, but there is a small cover charge, but if you are drinking between 5pm and 7pm you get a 30% discount, and you also get a discount on food.

The bed and pillows were comfortable, and the bathroom was cramped but functional.

A good location, heaps of transportation options, but if you want some breathing space while you are in your room then you need to spring for a more expensive room, or another hotel.

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.

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 in 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.