Nagasaki is a major tourist destination for both Japanese and foreign travellers alike. Finding a reasonably priced place to stay in an excellent location is no mean feat, but in Nagasaki travellers need look no further than the Akari Hostel.
The Nagasaki International Hostel Akari is superbly located, regardless of which city sights you want to see. The hostel is placed right in the middle of the city. Not only are you just a few minutes walk from the famous Megane Bashi (Spectacles Bridge – a double arched bridge which looks like a pair of glasses when the water perfectly reflects the bridge), but also the main shopping street of the city – which is the best place to catch local buses and trams – is only 10 minutes away on foot.
Other easy-to-reach tourist destinations include the Nagasaki Culture Museum (7 minutes on foot), the Atomic Bomb museum and memorial (about 20 minutes by tram), the Glover Garden (25 minutes by tram) and China Town (10 minutes by tram or 15 minutes on foot).
Like all good hostels, the Akari Hostel offers a selection of both dorm and private rooms. You can pick from 4-bed and 8-bed dorms, private double rooms, private single rooms and private triple rooms. The double en-suite rooms are 6,800 yen per night (3,400 yen per person per night) and are equipped either with one double bed, or a bunk bed of which the lower bunk is the same size as a regular double bed. The twin en-suite is the same price, and you can add an extra person and pay 3,000 Yen per person (this room is also equipped with the double-bottomed bunk bed). The triple en-suite is 9,900 yen per night (3,300 yen per person per night) or add a fourth person and pay 3,000 Yen per person. The ladies dorm room (en-suite) is 3,000 yen per person per night, and the mixed dorm (shared toilet and bathroom) is 2,700 yen per person per night. All room types have a slight increase of charge during peak seasons.
Naturally, the hostel provides free WiFi and air-conditioning in all the rooms. Aside from the obvious, there is also a living area and fully equipped kitchen for guests to use, and a luggage-storing service for when you check out. You can rent towels and bicycles from the front desk, and buy small commodities such as toothbrushes or shower gel. The front desk also sells cute postcards of Nagasaki, and can sell you a day pass for the local tram.
Best of all is the hand-drawn map which you will be presented with on arrival. English on one side and Japanese on the other, this map is fantastically useful whether you are a local or not. The artistically created map shows intricate detail of the local area surrounding the Akari Hostel, and points out good places to eat, shop, drink and so much more. Using this map, you can easily see which tram stops are most convenient, and cherish visiting all the local tourist spots that you would never have heard of otherwise.
As for my personal experience of the Akari Hostel, it’s a mixed review. On the downsides, the hostel itself if looking a bit old and worn (plaster flaking off the walls, damp spots on the ceiling) and it wasn’t as clean as the rooms you get in Japanese business hotels (hair in the bathtub, etc). However, the Akari Hostel was good value for money and in a fantastic location. The bed was very comfortable and the staff were extremely friendly and helpful (and spoke wonderful English). So while the hostel was by no means perfect, I would certainly recommend it to any traveller heading to Nagasaki, particularly for the sake of using that awesome, hand-drawn map!