Tokyo’s hotel scene was long dominated by international mega-chains and soulless business hotels, but the immense tourism surge of recent years has brought with it an acute need for more rooms – and supply is finally beginning to catch up with demand.
In addition to the advent of Airbnb and smaller hotels springing up like mushrooms after rain, designer hostels such as Nui. have stepped in as alternatives, promoting themselves as ‘local’ and ‘individualist’ to attract customers.
The latest entrant into this growing niche is Wired Hotel Asakusa, which opened its doors to much fanfare on April 1 (no joke, we promise) and is part of the Café Company empire (the folks behind Wired Café).
Wired Hotel’s design and overall branding are the work of Portland-based creative agency OMFGCO, known for their Ace Hotel chain, who teamed up with Café Company’s resident designers for the project. Co-founder Jeremy Pelley and business director Danielle Higgins made the trip to Tokyo for the opening.
According to Pelley, ‘Café Company contacted us about creating a hotel centred around the community. I’d say 90 percent of the work was really theirs – we just stepped in to disseminate Asakusa’s and Wired Hotel’s stories to an international audience.’
As Portland and Asakusa are both home to quite a few artisans, OMFGCO injected this aspect into the hotel. ‘To realise a unique guest experience, we added products made by local craftsmen and displayed them in the rooms; guests will be able to buy some of the items too,’ says Pelley.
Inside, the designer feel is very pronounced – no corners were cut here. If you really want to get a taste of what that means, make sure to book room 1001 (the penthouse). Upon entering, it feels as if you’ve left Asakusa and stepped into an expensive New York City flat; a look through the window is the only thing that proves you haven’t, as the good old Hanayashiki amusement park appears in front of your eyes.
Remember to take a close look at the hairdryer bag, which is embossed with a design by Shin-Yoshiwara, a local brand that puts a bit of the Yoshiwara (Tokyo’s red light district) of old back into Asakusa. For a room as big as 1001 but with more capacity, check out 507, which can accommodate four and even has a balcony.
Both of these rooms go for a cool ¥50,000 a night, which rules them out for business trip or extended holiday purposes (unless you really have cash to splash). But the regular singles offer a bit more value at ¥10,000 a night: their bathrooms resemble those found in your average business hotel, but the rest of the décor is just as sleek as in Wired’s fancier rooms.
And if you’re looking to spend even less, opt for a bed in one of the five dormitories. A night on one of the luxurious Swedish Duxiana mattresses will set you back ¥5,000 – for that price, we’d argue it better be a damn good mattress indeed.
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