In Tokyo, Kyoto, or Kanazawa the problem is figuring out which cute, affordable, boutique-style lodging with on-site cafe we're going to choose.
We've never had this problem with Osaka. Osaka is a city with a strong focus on business, and the hotels reflect this. You'll find chains, small rooms (even by Japanese standards) and look, some that could use an update. Of course, there's loads to do in Osaka, and you're probably not going to be hanging out in your room when there's octopus to be eaten. But you want a nice base to come back to, and since you're shelling out for accommodation anyway, why not find something you'll like?
So we dug deep and found some well designed, boutique, on-budget options.
We haven't stayed in these hotels, this is the product of a long Google search, cross-referenced with Agoda.
In our search, we don't look for a lot of luxury, but location, a bed that fits a tall person, and a reasonable price are all high on the wish-list. Where possible we've included when the hotel was built, and any extras that are on offer. Prices are estimates only, based on the dates we looked at. Be aware that hotel prices will change depending on whether you're staying across a weekend or a public holiday- sometimes spiking quite dramatically. You'll also find a map below.
Our Osaka accommodation shortlist:
This is a Marriott-owned hotel, designed to give off a boutique, Ace Hotel vibe. Features include a gym, Wi-Fi, a guest lounge, and a coffee bar. Most rooms seem to have some kind of work area built in. Prices are pretty reasonable- especially if you book through their site and join the Marriott rewards program. Breakfast is on offer, and seems to consist mainly of flatbreads. It's centrally located, and a short walk from Kitahama Station.
Expect to pay around AU$200 a night for a room for two that's 22m².
Apparently newly renovated, the hotel offers family rooms, and is very close to a subway exit, which might make it a good choice if you're travelling as a family. Coffee and tea is on offer in the lobby, and like a lot of Japanese hotels, room wear (think adorable pyjamas) is offered. You can get breakfast onsite for ¥1,620.
Expect to pay around AU$250 a night for a room for two that's 22m².
New (opened in December 2017) and very cool, with an on-site udon bar, and a long list of artists that participated in getting the hotel up and running. The rooms seem to be largely twin, so might be better for friends (who are comfortable in each other's space) or families. They have bigger dedicated family room options too. You can also book bunk rooms for groups of up to six, which are great value. Namba is a great spot to make your home base, you'll be super close to Dotonbori and Shinsaibashi.
Expect to pay around $190 a night for a room for two that's 13m².
Billing itself as 'Modern Japanese style', this hotel has three taste options- natural, chic or cheerful. It's not super clear how you can nominate your preferred option- but they're also all pretty similar. They do also have these cute icons:
Many rooms seem to contain a hob which is great if you want to do a little self-catering, but they also offer a breakfast of an ochazuke buffet, which is rice served with tea and toppings. Rental bicycles and a laundry are available. This spot is set a little further back from the action of Namba, but is close to public transport and sights like Osaka Castle.
Expect to pay around $160 a night for a room that's 25m².
A little off the beaten track, this 'social hotel' has an incredibly well polished appearance, offers a vinyl record selection to play on your in-room turntable, have an absurdly immaculate Instagram account, and will apparently whisk you off to Universal Studios by limo shuttle. They offer rooms with an extra bed for groups of three. If you've been to Osaka before, exploring the Bentocho area might appeal.
Expect to pay around $190 a night for a room for two that's 14m².
Part of the Solare Hotel chain, this is a newly-opened polished outpost. Fridges are in the rooms, so snacks ahoy! RUUUST is the on-site restaurant, and serves Italian favourites three times a day. For wheelchair users, they offer an accessible 'Universal' room. You can also elect to have breakfast delivered to your room. Tucked in a quieter part of a busy area, it's a short walk from the station.
Expect to pay around $200 a night for a room for two that's 14m² (Standard Double rooms are 14- 17m²).
An acronym for Conduct of Delightful Exchange, this hotel opened in March 2017, and is a three minute walk from Shinsaibashi Station. The rooms have fridges, which is always a win, and there's a free breakfast on offer- which seems to consist of juice and bread. Billed as a business hotel, there's a women-only floor, something to be aware of when booking. If you're happy to pay and there's one available, you can book a premium room with an outdoor jacuzzi.
Expect to pay around $190 a night for a room for two that's 19m².