lower east nine hostel kyoto

The Lower East Nine Hostel: High-Rated Hostel that Doesn’t Meet My Expectations


Knowing that capsule hotels in Kyoto are more expensive than those in Tokyo, I decided to stay in The Lower East Nine Hostel. If I could save about $50 for 2 nights compared to capsule hotels (in Kyoto), why not?

I tried my best to control our budget on where to save and splurge. I’d rather splurge (affordably) for a mountain view hotel like Mizuno Hotel in Mt. Fuji for the next trip.

Moreover, The Lower East Nine Hostel was (and still is) rated 9.3 out of 10. It was said on Booking.com that it’s in a good location close to the station, best price in Kyoto, clean and tidy, staffs are friendly and speak good English. Hell yes, the latter is rather hard to find!

For a $65 room per night, those reviews sounded perfect. Minor complaints, such as small beds, crowded, noisy and small lockers were something I didn’t sweat that much. It’s a backpacker’s type of accommodation, not a 4 or 5 star hotel, so what do you expect? I assume that I would get about the same experience as staying in a capsule hotel.

The female dorm was fully booked, unfortunately. The only choice left was a mixed dorm with 8 bunk beds, which was a bit out of my comfort zone, but I think it should be okay. I mean, there wouldn’t be a gang rape or something, right?


Situated a stone’s throw away from Kujo Station, one stop from Kyoto Station, the 2-storey building hostel façade looked impressively clean and modern with its pure white wall and large windows. Unless there’s a “hostel” word, it would be like a hip cafe bar.

lower east nine hostel kyoto

The lobby was actually a cafe and bar that belongs to the hostel. The idea of combining a reception, a bar and a cashier was brilliant, as it saves a lot space and employees. You won’t think it’s a lobby unless someone tells you so.

lower east nine hostel kyoto

lower east nine kyoto

The modern and minimalist interior somehow reminds me of a show unit in IKEA stores and I loved it! It was a cozy place to chill out, accompanied with soothing lounge music and modern jazz instrumental played all day long.

I noticed there were quite a lot of customers, who were not hostel guests, came only for a cup of coffee and free Wi-Fi.

lower east nine kyoto

In fact, only customers are allowed to seat at the lounge. Hostel guests bringing their own food, aka who don’t purchase anything, are “shifted” to the dining room and kitchen upstairs.

Initially wanted to have a hot chocolate, I finally ordered matcha latte (powdered green tea latte), as suggested by the barista, just to experience the lounge in my last day of stay.

Forget about the idea of overpriced, crappy and touristy taste of hotel food and drinks for a while. The rates at The Lower East Nine Cafe & Bar were relatively reasonable. My matcha latte cost me ¥350 ($3). The green tea taste was pretty strong, toned down with fresh milk and a little bit of sugar to elevate the bittersweet flavour of the concoction. It was the kind of bittersweet that I loved so much.


Having collected our access card and sandals, we were amazed by the spacious kitchen and dining room on the first floor with complete facilities, from kitchen utensils, microwave, toaster, fridge, water boiler, cutlery until dinnerware. There were lot of seats available, including coffee table with huge sofas. My favourite spot was the one by window, facing the outside world.

No question about the cleanliness of all the facilities and the Wi-Fi connection. They were perfect!


lower east nine kyoto

lower east nine kyoto


We were glad that the rooms, toilets and bathrooms were as clean as the rest of the facilities. And washing machines were available, too.

Nonetheless, we started to feel why we missed our capsule hotel in Tokyo so much (I’ll discuss about this in the future post) after staying for 2 nights. Here’s why:


It’s a contradiction that there was no luggage storage on the first floor, where all the rooms were located. The luggage storage at the lobby downstairs is the only official place to put it.

It’s still possible to put your luggage inside the room; either under the bed, on the corner of the room, or lean it on the wall. Unless there’s a space left, you can put it in the alley as well. Therefore, I never advice anyone to bring a large suitcase if you stay in this hostel.

I was so lucky that I only had a backpack during my stay.

Remember, the hostel had no elevator as it was only a two-storey-building.


The lockers outside the room were too small, as their maximum capacity was only for handbags and 2 pairs of shoes. There was one larger locker next to the small ones, but it was occupied. Even so, the large locker didn’t fit for bigger suitcases.

Actually, the solution for this issue is just around the corner. Converting about one-fourth of the dining room into a luggage storage totally ends the misery. I think the room is way too big just for a dining room that some of its space can be altered for other purposes.

lower east nine kyoto
The room. Picture credit: http://www.hostelworld.com

Shoes were allowed to be kept inside the room. There was no designated area to keep them apart to maintain the floor cleanliness. Some guests put them under the bed, along with suitcases.

Indeed, there were lockers outside, but there was no house rules defining what they stand for. So, everybody can have their own way of using them. We used lockers to put our shoes.

At a glance, it seems like a piece of cake. Nevertheless, it may create discomfort for certain people. For instance, my friend, who occupied the lower deck, couldn’t sleep well because of someone’s shoe odour.

Again, I was lucky because I slept on the upper deck and a bag of muffin was next to me. I smelled the yummy strawberry muffin during the night instead of shoe odour!


The sound of closing door was pretty loud, unless somebody holds it with his or her body before it finally slams. Noises outside the room could also be heard easily. Footsteps, chattering crowds, pouring water, you name it.

Lucky me. I’m not very sensitive to noise and I brought spare earplugs, too.


They should provide more bathrooms, so there’s no need to be in line for long just to cleanse yourself. In my experience, they were busy at midnight and empty after 9 am (because either a lot of guests already checked out or began to explore the city).

firemen across the hostel. a house on fire, but not a big one though


Although I can adapt easily with new places, I don’t sweat small stuffs that don’t affect me much (I mean, look at the price!), The Lower East Nine Hostel is not my ideal place to stay.

I’m not saying that it’s a bad hostel, as it is clean, has well-provided basic amenities, great location and all staffs are helpful and speak English well.

However, I personally would probably come back just for lounging, not for an overnight stay. Apparently, high rating and positive testimonials don’t always fit all. As they don’t fit me this time.

If you have a real backpacker’s soul, a strictly budget-oriented traveller who completely ready to face all the consequences, have been staying in much worse places before, not sensitive to noise, smell and cramped spaces, and travel light, this hostel is the right place for you.

And what you can do after reading my review, aka complaints, is just ignore them and have a pleasant stay.


mount fuji

Get a Spectacular View of Mt. Fuji from Mizno Hotel

Situated merely 2 hours from Tokyo, a trip to Mt. Fuji can be completed within a day by leaving from Tokyo early in the morning and return in the evening. Yet somehow, my conscience told me otherwise, that I had to stay overnight in the area. If staying in a mountain view room and having onsen (hot spring) facing the mountain are my wildest dreams, I had to make it happen there no matter what.

I had to loosen up my budget too, leaving my comfort zone in that sense, by not staying in a budget hostel like what I normally do.  There’s always an extra cost for the sake of panoramic view, I got it.

mizno hotel

Having stumbled upon several different websites, I finally booked Mizno Hotel on Booking.com because it was the most affordable rate I could get for a mountain view room. Although the location is not exactly right in the lakeshore of Lake Kawaguchi, but on the hilltop behind other hotels before it, the lake view and Mt. Fuji are not blocked by those properties nearby. That’s what matters the most.

It was about $150 per night, non-smoking twin bed room with private bathroom. And I hope it’s worth it just like all the testimonials I read. The good news is Ollie agreed to give a shot.

Another good news is that the there’s a shuttle service that picks you up from Fuji Kawaguchiko station if you inform the hotel upon arrival. In our case, the chauffeur picked us up from Yuransen Ropeway Iriguchi Station, situated 3 stops from Kawaguchiko Station. It helped us to save some money and energy, especially passing the inclined route to the hotel on foot could be exhausting.


A homey mansion was the feeling I got when I entered Mizuno Hotel lobby. I immediately drew my own conclusion that the main waiting room across the reception was a living room.

mizno hotel

Walking further, passing through a souvenir shop on the corner side of the lobby, we found a more secluded and bigger room with lots of old books, some magazines and an old typewriter on a coffee table. I assume that in real life, it was meant for a reading or a study room. Privacy was the limelight of the room, with the presence of curtain by the entrance that are not found in other parts of the room. Unlike the living room, the lighting was a bit brighter for reading comfort.

reading room mizuno hotel japan
reading / study room
mizno hotel
the bar

A touch of classics in both rooms with sets of bulky leather sofas and a bunch of paintings decorating almost each side of the wall and pillar remind me of a family’s house who emphasize on displaying traces of their past life elegantly.

mizno hotel

F&B section was the next destination of our tour. The bar and lounge lighting were as dim as that of the living room, with a little spark of red and canary yellow illumination as seen inside the racks. The atmosphere was indeed very calming and cozy, the right kind of place where I could find my comfort zone either to be alone zipping my margarita or to meet my new love affair, or both. Although I finally didn’t do both and no hunk to hook up.

mizno hotel


The dining room was a bit more “modest” than the rest of the rooms, especially the choice of lighter and more casual furniture design emphasizing on functional aspects to ease the staffs to keep it clean. Despite its simplicity, it was a comfortable place to dine in.



There’s no doubt that Mizno Hotel totally gets the idea that a lobby crafts the first impression that lasts forever. But that good impression did not proceed well to our bedroom, that was much less classy and flashy than the lobby. Moreover, when the homey feeling was taken too deeply, it would create dullness like someone’s old room that needs a rejuvenation.

Not to mention that the shower hose was leaking when I washed my feet. The mechanic came to our room right away and did a little quick trick with it, as if it had happened many times before yet never been replaced.

The room had lack of plugs, therefore we could not charge our smartphones, a pocket wi-fi and a camera simultaneously unless we brought a travel adapter. Worstly, we didn’t realize that we charged the gadgets in one of the plugs that didn’t work at all and we only realized it the next day.

Overall, the room interior was simply forgettable that I forgot taking a picture of it. The one below, I got it from Agoda website.

mizuno hotel bedroom japan mt fuji
the bedroom. picture credit: agoda.com

Despite the drawbacks, they delivered the main selling point properly: a gorgeous view of Mt. Fuji by the window!

It took almost half an hour to get rid of the cloud in the evening, but we still didn’t get a clear view of the mountain. But at least, the mountain peak was visible enough.

mount fuji
Mount Fuji in the evening

Only in the morning at 6 am did we get a spectacular view of Mt. Fuji in clear sky. We were overjoyed! It was a rewarding experience, especially the appearance of Mt. Fuji the day before was covered by cloud the whole afternoon.

mount fuji
Mount Fuji in clear sky

Besides, I noticed a unique hotel belonging in the corridor outside our room: a long wooden church chair. I wonder how it gets there.

mizno hotel
wooden chair usually found in churches


Unfortunately, the mountain view Jacuzzi (not hot spring) on the top floor costs $10 per person. Instead, we used the free onsenthe Japanese term of hot spring, on the second floor and it was a good experience too for first timers. Like many other hot spring places, standard amenities, such as soap, shampoo, conditioner, hair dryer, combs and face lotion were provided.

mizno hotel
the bar


As budget -conscious travellers, we saved money on food to compensate the hotel rate. We had a dinner in Konami Restaurant, situated 5 minutes from the hotel. We shared egg benedict for breakfast at the hotel that cost us $18 per portion, so we only paid $9 each. I think the taste was quite okay, though not very special. Please note that you need to order the breakfast the day before at the reception.

egg benedict
egg benedict


We had a pleasant stay in the hotel although there are some aspects that need improvements. The staffs were friendly and speak English pretty well. I realize that Mizno Hotel is a three-star hotel, not a five-star one, after all. I can’t expect much of glamour inside the room, but the most important thing is that it has a perfect location for a spectacular view of Mt. Fuji.