Courtyard By Marriott Shin-Osaka – A Review By Punam Mohandas
The Courtyard by Marriott Shin-Osaka has an enviable location, being right next to (but not inter-connected) one of the busiest train stations (Shin-Osaka) in Osaka that is a humongous space with a number of shops and eateries and a mindboggling volume of passengers that pass through it daily.
One exits the station and turns right to find the hotel entrance a minute away. The lobby is quite spacious with minimal seating and manned by efficient staff. Umbrellas are kept ready in a rack by the door, in view of the mercurial weather. An outsized, abstract monogram in black and white dominates one wall and is meant to depict the idea of many countries and cultures; in other words, the world as one big melting pot. Most of the guests to this hotel are from the USA, Taiwan, Hong Kong and China, while the India and Middle East markets have also begun to show a steady influx.
With 332-keys, the Courtyard by Marriott Shin-Osaka is a comparatively new property and has recently been renovated. It also has elevator access for the physically challenged. The rooms range from 30-90sqm (quite large for Japan) and categories include the Courtyard Room King; Courtyard Room Twin; Courtyard Room High Floor King; Courtyard Room High Floor Twin; Deluxe Room Executive Floor King; Deluxe Room Executive Floor Twin; Junior Suite and the Courtyard (presidential) Suite. The latter has a very tastefully done up sitting room in slate grey carpet, complemented by a black glass table. The bedroom has a super king size bed and walk-in closet done up in muted purple and grey. Quite obviously, this suite has a much bigger bathroom with a separate shower area and an extra, smaller washroom near the entrance. There is no pantry with this suite, although there is a dining table.
The Deluxe room category upwards have espresso machines, while the suites (only) are offered bathrobes. All the rooms have been thoughtfully provided with extra-large safes to accommodate laptops, as most of the guests are here on business trips.
All rooms are accentuated by smaller versions of the monogram in the lobby, complemented by furnishings in earth and wood tones and a wall panel in soft orange, depicting the sun and Nature. A sole armchair in red is the only splash of colour in this otherwise muted scheme. The work desk is round-shaped, accompanied by a swivel chair. Each bedside table has a differently-shaped lamp. Quite unusually, there is an emergency window in each room in case of any exigencies.
Room amenities include two complimentary bottles of water, electronic safe, mini bar, tea/coffee maker, iron and ironing board and a large-screen TV (yes, English language channels are available.) I really liked the design of the water bottles; although plastic, they have a sort of cut-glass etched design on the bottom, which is quite classy. All rooms are equipped with bathtubs and, most sensibly, clothes’ lines. I must also make special mention of the blessed Japanese technology that extends to the warm potty seats; there are touch button control panels on the underside of the sink counters where one can change the temperature of the seat as well as the bidet water.
It must be noted that the train noise does cause some disturbance as the rooms are not fully sound-proofed, however, this is a small price to pay considering the prime location. One does not want to be wandering indefinitely along the busy Midosuji road trying to get to one’s hotel!
F&B options include the 130-covers, all-day dining, Lavarock which uniquely, has a curtained partition down the centre of the room, in case of groups or private parties. There is a wine cellar here while breakfast time sees live noodles, egg and pancake stations, although the breakfast buffet could be added on to, especially in terms of muesli and bakery items. However, a friendly concept I really liked is the fruits and tea/coffee to go; you can just grab a coffee and walk out to the station. Wish more hotels thought of this splendid and hospitable notion.
Apart from this there is the 20-covers teppenyaki restaurant, Ikka Ichiyo, open for dinner and for lunch by reservation only. Opposite this is Bar 19 in muted grey and deep violet and with 48-covers, that serves light snacks from Ikka Ichiyo.
The Executive Lounge has 50-covers and serves light refreshments through the day, with alcohol served after 5pm and canapes and finger food till 7.30pm. It’s probably the child in me, but I was quite tickled to find a variety of lollipops and jellybeans laid out beside the assortment of nuts and fruits. A word here about the excellently trained staff who went out of his way to serve guests; even though I was late by five minutes and he had just finished clearing up the snacks, he immediately laid everything out again so I could eat something. Not just that, he was interacting with all guests present and giving us helpful travel tips. Truly a very courteous gentleman.
There is free wifi across the hotel. Furthermore, there are two computers and a printer made available for complimentary use by guests staying on the executive floors; other guests can avail of this service for a nominal fee.
Although the hotel does not have a swimming pool (pools are not so popular in Japan unless it is a resort hotel, as people prefer to go to the sea during summer) it does have a compact fitness centre with the elementary weight training and treadmill equipment, that is open 24-hours and meant for residential guest use only, accessible by room keys.
Convention facilities include three meeting rooms that can accommodate from 30-54 pax, classroom style, while buffet style dining can take upto 75-pax.
All in all, the Courtyard by Marriott Shin-Osaka is definitely a cut above the usual Courtyard standards and came as a most welcome surprise. Most of the staff speak passable English and therefore, communication is not an issue here. The housekeeping team must be complimented for its efficiency as well as for its efforts – I have never seen such spanking white bathtubs in a hotel before! The team is also mindful of guest requirements and replenish amenities accordingly.
The F&B staff are extremely alert and courteous and are dressed in sharp, dark suits; to complete the ‘Men in Black’ image, they also have secret service style earpieces that make one feel as though one is being served by the FBI!
When one writes a hotel review, typically the back-of-the-house departments rarely get mentioned. Thus, I would like to make a special point to compliment the engineering team. Given the icy outside temperatures, the heating in the rooms was well-maintained and the boilers were operating at optimum efficiency, guaranteeing instant hot water at any time of the day or night.
As mentioned, the hotel is ideally suited near one of the city’s main train stations and it is easy to get to neighbouring Kyoto or Kobe, both less than 30-minutes away. Within Osaka, Namba is less than 20-minutes away, with the famous Dotonburi and Umeda areas for shopping and shrines. Universal Studios is also approximately 20-minutes away; the Courtyard by Marriott Shin-Osaka is an associate hotel of Universal Studios Japan and therefore, hotel guests can buy tickets from the front desk and save on waiting time in queues.
Quite a few major airlines fly directly into Osaka. The hotel is an hour away from Kansai international airport and it costs 2,300 yen on the JR line or 1,200 yen on the slower line to get there.
COURTYARD BY MARRIOTT SHIN-OSAKA
TEL: +81 06-6350-5701
FAX: +81 06-6350- 5702
Punam Mohandas asserts her right to be identified as the author of this work. Any views or opinions expressed in this review is that of the author.