Have you ever been to a place that wasn’t fantastic, but that was exactly what you needed for a particular occasion? That is an excellent description of what you get at the Hilton Hotel in Narita, Japan. It isn’t the nicest hotel in the world, but if you are staying there it is probably because you are in town for a night or two while flying through the Narita airport. Given those constraints, this slightly dated hotel is exactly what you need.
I have stayed in this hotel twice now. Once was while I was en route to see a buddy of mine who lives in Jakarta, and the other time was two weeks later when I was on my way back. If you want a walk through of the place, I have written about how to get there on the shuttle from Narita airport, and I have also posted videos about the public spaces as well as the standard room they have on offer. For that matter, I will follow those three themes for this review.
If you are staying at this hotel, you probably have a flight to catch the next day at Narita or just arrived at Narita. Transportation is easy. As soon as you exit customs and immigration and come into the main hall of Terminal 2, you can change money if you need to and then walk outside. Please double check which the bus stop number, but you will likely cross the street and find your numbered bus stop. And then…. well, you wait for your bus. It will arrive with great punctuality. If you don’t care to wait for the bus there are generally taxis available. However, be aware that many of these are long distance taxis for travel to Tokyo proper. Not many of them are available for local travel, and it will usually be easier to just wait for the bus. Luggage trolleys are free if you want to take your stuff and wait inside. Just don’t be late for the next bus. The Hilton is the first stop the bus makes, and it will drop you off right at the front door of the hotel.
The public spaces of this hotel are nice, although just a little bit dated. The two main floors form a complete circle, and there is also a basement level which forms most of the circle. On the entry floor are the check-in desk, Terraces bar, the buffet restaurant, coffee shop, convenience store, and several seating spaces. The convenience store was a particularly good find. It had everything you would want in a regular convenience store, including snacks, sodas, beer, and sake to take up to the room. The prices were also completely reasonable, which was surprising given this is a hotel frequented by foreigners in an obvious transportation zone. The prices at the buffet restaurant were ridiculously high- the morning I arrived at 7 a.m., they wanted 3500 yen (30-35 USD) for a reasonable breakfast spread. I would pass unless it is included in your room rate. There was also a foreign exchange machine to the side of the check-in desk. Those rates were certainly better than TravelEx, but much worse that what a standard ATM gave. Side note- if you need money find the exchange machines in the Aeon Mall.
Walking up a flight, there are a series of meeting rooms and restaurants. I ate dinner on my second stay at Matsutake. I will review that later, but the short version is that it was excellent food with marginal service and high prices. It is a fine choice if you are too tired to go out, but on balance the answer is to again go to the Aeon Mall. There is a food court there on the entry floor with a KFC and a couple of other chains, and one floor up are some local places which serve excellent ramen. Just point and smile politely and something good will show up in your bowl. As for the Hilton, the other main restaurant on the second floor is the Chinese restaurant. I did not eat there, although I accidentally walked in while trying to be seated at Matsutake. I believe the only people there who weren’t Chinese were the Japanese waitstaff and myself. That shows the promise of good things.
On the basement level is a gym, a spa, and a wedding chapel. The wedding space is mostly outdoors, and I regret that my photos did not turn out well– it is a pleasant space with a little stream which is lovely for simply sitting and contemplating life. The gym has a nice workout room and a big pool. It also has a Japanese bath. That bath is not as nice as the one at the Narita View Hotel across the highway, because there were not as many options for baths, the water was not as hot, and there was no fragrance to the water. However, it was still an interesting experience for learning how a public bath works. This bottom floor also featured the Nusa Dua spa, which was nothing at all like the actual spa I went to in Nusa Dua, located on the island of Bali in Indonesia. That said, it is a perfectly reputable place which charged me 9600 yen (82 USD at that day’s exchange rate) for an hour and a half massage which left me thoroughly relaxed after a long day of travel. If you are looking for a luxury spa, this isn’t your place. If you are looking for a nice massage at a reasonable price where you don’t have to worry about any other, um, ethical complications, then this place is very good.
After touring around the public areas, I made my way to my guest room. On both stays they commented that it was an upgraded room on a Hilton Hhonors floor (I have Gold status in the Hhonors program), but it honestly looked like a regular guest room to me. That said, for the going rate of $125 a night in a major tourist zone in a safe and comfortable environment, that was a steal. The first thing you notice going in is the light switch, and you have to put your room key in it to turn it on. That is fine until you go to bed, wake up in the middle of the night, and need to turn the light on. For that eventuality, they provide a flashlight. To one side is a pretty standard closet and safe, and two robes were included. To the other side was the bathroom. The decor in the bathroom was at least two decades old and the tub/shower combo was smallish, but they had excellent amenities and a fancy Japanese toilet.
Moving into the main body of the hotel room, at some point a hotel room is a hotel room is a hotel room. There is nothing which particularly made this one stand out. Then again, I stayed at this hotel on the first night of an international odyssey and again on the last night. At those two points in my trip, predictable was good. The bed was incredibly comfortable, and the TV included a couple of English language news channels. Wifi connections were good, and power plugs were easy to find and were to U.S. standard.
In sum, I wouldn’t book a trip to Japan to stay in this hotel. It isn’t that kind of place. However, if you are flying into Narita airport or have business in the area, this hotel is a great choice. Rates are reasonable and service is solid, and I am confident I made the right choice in staying here twice.