Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Osaka Sleep: Cross Hotel - X Marks the Spot


2-5-15 Shinsaibashisuji, Chuo-ku, Osaka, Osaka Prefecture 542-0085, Japan
5-minute walk from JR Namba Station (Exit 14), Shinsaibashi Subway Station and Dotonburi area

I have been giving too much love to Tokyo, so now it is time to divert some attention to another funky city - Osaka! Osaka is well known as "The Kitchen of Japan", and my goodness how true it is! I salivate each time I reminisce the good old days of staying in Osaka, and in super close proximity to THE food street of the city - Dotonburi, where food was at our beck and call. Sigh.....

All thanks to my brilliant decision to stay at Cross Hotel after extensive Internet research for reviews and the best hotel rates. In the end, due to its immense popularity, I had to book directly from the hotel's website since I could not book through other travel sites which indicated that Cross was FULL. Surprisingly, for its great location and "boutique" hotel status, the rates were VERY reasonable. We paid 15,500yen per night, which worked out to be about SGD245 per night (no breakfast). Compared to Shinagawa Prince in Tokyo, and Sakura Ryokan in Kyoto, it was dirt cheap.

Where to start about its greatness? First, its unbeatable location, right smack in Minami (South) Osaka, also known as the Namba area, where it is like the Orchard Road of Singapore. Within a 10-minute walking radius from the hotel, we have quick access to the massive JR Namba station where other private railways also run direct to Nara and Kobe; the Red Midosuji subway line to Osaka's sights; the Dotonburi Eating Street, the very long Shinsaibashi Shopping Alley; the various new shopping complexes at Namba like Namba Parks; the high end shopping district with major luxury labels along Midosuji Road, and even Amerikamura. Basically, if you are not interested in doing the touristy things (like visiting Osaka Castle) and just want to shop and eat till you drop, you can just park yourself at Cross Hotel and not spend a cent travelling on  public transport.

Second, the room is clean, modern and spacious (Space, my readers, is a precious commodity in overpopulated Japanese cities). Plenty of space to put your luggage especially if you are seized with shopping madness. Bed is firm and comfy. Third, but the one which takes the cake for me, is the ENORMOUS bathroom, which takes up about half of the overall room area. Astonishingly, the bathroom is separated into two sections with a big shower area and a bathtub, and a sizable vanity area, stocked with Gilchrist and Soames bath products!!! And you know me and bathrooms, I could spend an hour in there in blissful contentment. Obviously space constraints don't apply to Cross.

Again, I cannot comment much about the service, but it was extremely efficient to check in and out. Our check out at Cross was done in a record 5 minutes - hand in the key, hand over the credit card, sign and buzz off, no "Did you take anything from the mini-fridge?" type of nonsense. (Instead they have vending machines on every floor.) The only downside to Cross is the lack of FREE wireless Internet access, not just in the rooms but also at the business centre. Oh, and make sure you get a room on the non-smoking floor, the smoking floors are a nightmare for any non-smoker.

Cross Hotel was ranked the NUMBER 1 hotel in Osaka on Tripadvisor prior to my trip in Autumn 2009. My latest check showed that it had fallen to Number 4 (Ritz Carlton is now at top spot - but I don't have the moolah for the Ritz.). Nevertheless I shall remain a loyal customer despite the dip in ranking. Unless Cross suddenly becomes ultra expensive or there is a far superior option on all counts (unlikely), I will definitely stay there again on my next trip to Osaka.

You can check out information on Cross and other Osaka hotels at the following site: http://www.holidaycityjapan.com/osakahotels/.

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