The coronavirus has been hitting everyone in the hotel industry hard, but perhaps none harder than the unfortunately-named Corona Hotel in Osaka, which went on Twitter many times in the past few months to remind people that, no, they have nothing to do with the pandemic.
Still, although no Japanese city has been put on lockdown (yet), social-distancing and self-isolation have meant lean times for all Japanese hotels, hostels and ryokan inns. But instead of lying down and taking it, many have come up with inventive ways to weather this storm, and even help out their neighbors.
The Great Writer Confinement Plan
Since the 2020s are apparently set on imitating the 1920s right down to a global pandemic, why not just go with that and help guests travel to the past? That’s what the Homeikain ryokan in Tokyo’s Bunkyo ward thought, and the result was their Bungo Kanzume (~ “Great Writer Confinement”) Plan:
— NHKニュース (@nhk_news) March 13, 2020
With this offer, you get a private room in a traditional inn with an old-timey Bakelite phone all while the staff refer to you as “Sensei” and ask about your upcoming manuscript. You’ll also get the occasional call about sending in your “latest draft” to really sell the illusion that you are a writer from a few decades back.
From Kobe, With Love
Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, the occupancy rate at the Kobe Portopia Hotel has fallen to just 25% of what it was before. And so, understanding that people are rightfully scared, the staff and management at the hotel have decided to send everyone a touching message of love written all over the front of the building:
— NHKニュース (@nhk_news) March 10, 2020
On March 9, the hotel staff set up lamps in 140 rooms between the 8th and 28th floor to create the image of a heart shining brightly onto the city of Kobe. The dazzling display continued until March 12, reminding people that while times may be scary, none of us are alone.
Prices Will Never Again Be This Low
Just because the world is in the grips of a deadly virus, doesn’t mean we should abandon humor. A group of hotel and onsen hot spring owners in Nikko, Tochigi Prefecture, agree, which is why they’ve unrolled their Corona Zero plan. Under it, a stay at one of their establishments, plus two meals, will cost only ¥5,670, which is a pun in Japanese, as the price can technically be read as Ko-Ro-Na-Zero.
“ワンコイン温泉” 「コロナゼロ」プラン ホテル旅館が対策
— ＮＨＫ生活・防災 (@nhk_seikatsu) March 19, 2020
Other entrepreneurs across Tochigi have also come up with the One Coin plan, wherein they only charge ¥500 for a day-trip access to their onsen baths. That offer expires at the end of March but, sadly, the much better one at Hakone has ended weeks ago on March 9. Titled the Maji de Coronavirus Kanben Shite Kudasai (~”Just Give Me a Break With This Whole Coronavirus Thing”) Plan, the offer allowed guests to stay at an Ichinoyu hot spring resort for just ¥3,900, including breakfast and dinner.
But when it comes to cutting prices, no one can beat the deal at the Hotel Trim, a long-stay establishment for women in Kanazawa, which is currently renting out rooms by the month for just ¥60,000 (~$540)! That’s already much cheaper than typical apartments, and it includes all utilities and WiFi. All in all, not a bad place to ride out the coronavirus pandemic.
— よしおかたくや | ゲストハウスクリエイターズ (@takuyayoshioka) March 13, 2020
Looking Beyond Tourists
Social-distancing doesn’t mean never ever leaving your home. It simply means limiting contact with groups of people. You can still go for walks, shop or even stay at a hostel. As long as it’s local. At least that’s the idea promoted by Hostel Niniroom in Kyoto with their Marutamachi Discount.
Named after the town the hostel is located in, the offer targets local residents who feel like they need a break, like freelancers or families dealing with school closures. With prices starting from ¥2,000, Hostel Niniroom hopes to become an affordable, temporary escape from reality for the locals, sort of like an elaborate staycation, only with more picturesque views and someone else cooking breakfast for you.