I know what you’re thinking. Why would you go to Japan to stay in an American chain hotel?
Japan has capsule hotels, love hotels, and traditional Ryokan inns.
So why in the world would you want to stay in an American chain hotel?
Two words: free nights.
I’ve read so many reviews from points and miles bloggers who have stayed at the Park Hyatt Hotel in Tokyo with “two free nights” they got from their Chase Hyatt credit card. That place seems a bit over-blogged.
What about the Imperial Hotel designed by Frank Lloyd Wright? Now that’s a place I would like to stay (though I never would, because I am too cheap.)
One reason you might choose a franchised hotel might be to economize. If you could earn free nights by accumulating points, that could cut the costs of your vacation. I’ve written before about how we are planning a rail-based trip, and that hotels near train stations would be ideal.
My guidebook, Japan by Rail, mentions a number of Choice Hotels that are directly across from railroad stations, and many others that are a ten minute walk away.
With all the hype about the Park Hyatt Tokyo, I thought I would take a look at other chain hotels that you can stay at for points, and how many properties they each have in Japan. The search tool at AwardMapper.com was tremendously helpful in this regard.
Here’s what I found:
Club Carlson: 1
Accor Hotels: 10
Best Western: 15
Choice Hotels Has More Hotels in Japan Than Any Other U.S. Chain
Are you surprised? Choice Hotels has four times as many properties in Japan as Hyatt does., and three times as many as the nearest competitors, Starwood and Best Western. Apparently, Choice has a ton of properties in Scandinavia, too.
To be sure the Comfort Inn is no Park Hyatt. The Japanese Comfort Inns all look like 2 star hotels that cater to business people. The rooms are quite small; but hey, this is Japan, you’d expect small rooms. The prices are reasonable, as are the points redemptions. For 38 of the 47 hotels, you need 8,000 points for a free night. What makes these hotels especially convenient is the free breakfast, free wifi, guest laundry, and small business center.
Get 32,000 Bonus Points with the Choice Privileges Visa Card Equal 4 Free Nights
How can you get 8,000 points?
The easiest way is by opening The Choice Privileges® Visa® Card. This is a no annual fee travel rewards credit card that pays 8,000 points after your first purchase, and 24,000 points after a one night stay at a Choice Privileges location. That’s enough for four free nights at most Comfort Inns in Japan.
Here’s the thing: you can burn Choice Privileges points at hotels in Japan, but you will not earn points for your paid stays.
- 15 per eligible $1 spent at over 4,200 Choice Privileges locations
- 5 points per eligible $1 on additional Choice Privileges points or Choice Hotels gift card purchases
- 2 points per eligible $1 spent on everyday purchases
- Ability to book free nights 50 days in advance instead of 30 days
- Every time you earn points for eligible stays, Choice Privileges gives you a 10% point bonus
To be sure there are more generous offers available, but those are usually for cards with a high annual fee.
The Choice Privileges® Visa® Card has no annual fee, not in the first year, nor in any subsequent year. A card with no annual fee is one that you can hold for years and years, which will improve one of the important components of your credit score, the average age of your accounts.
What are the Limitations?
There are some limitations. Your first paid stay must be in a U.S. participating hotel.
You will earn only 10 points per dollar at the lower end Choice properties: MainStay Suites®, Suburban Extended Stay®, Econo Lodge® and Rodeway Inn®.
“Eligible stays”exclude discounted rates or stays booked through third parties.
You do not earn points for stays in these countries: Brazil, China, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, India, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway and Sweden and including Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Papua New Guinea and Fiji.
See www.choiceprivileges.com for details.
Comfort Inns (part of Choice Hotels) in Japan
Here’s the list of Choice properties in Japan, all Comfort Inns, where you can stay for 8,000 points a night.