Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Where To Stay In Osaka: Fraser Residences Nankai

We traveled to different cities in the Kansai region during our Japan vacation, but C decided to just make the Namba area in Osaka our base, and we just took day trips out from there. There are different opinions on whether to stay in one city or two. Initially I wanted to stay in Kyoto for the first part of our trip and then move to Osaka on the second half of the trip. But C personally believes that staying in one city is ideal. Sige na nga! Husband knows best. :)

His reason: We will lose precious time changing hotels. Couple of hours lost just checking out, carrying the luggage to the train station, from the station to the new hotel, and the new hotel would probably not let us in until the 2-3 afternoon, even if they will hold our luggage for us. One day of our trip would me messed up just for moving hotels. Not to mention the fact that we have 6 luggage between the 5 of us. We do not know the meaning of “travel light,” obvious ba? We actually had 5 luggage flying in, and 6 going out.  We kept one of the smaller luggage inside a bigger one when we left Manila.

I looked up several hotels in Osaka for our Japan trip, and ended up choosing between Fraser Residences and Swissotel. They are both located in Namba, and both are very good hotels for families with kids for the following reasons:
1.  Namba is Osaka’s most exciting entertainment, shopping and dining district.
2.  They are both just a few (about 2) minutes walk from the Nankai station
3.  Very near Takashimaya and Namba Parks
4.  10-15 minute walk to Dotonbori and Shinsaibashi
5.  Variety of restaurants nearby:  Ippudo Ramen, McDonalds, Family Mart, Yoshinoya, Pepper Lunch among others are all within short walking distance

The Namba area is the perfect place to stay if you want to enjoy the peaceful shrines and historical places of Kyoto during the day, and wander in a sea of neon during the night. Shinsaibashi and Dotonbori are a walking distance away, and shops close later in this area than the other regions

Fraser Residences Nankai
In the end, I chose Fraser Residences because of its spacious layout and the separate sleeping and living areas.  The photos from the website just won me over.  Look!  (via) Fraser Residences is very highly rated, and is in fact awarded the 2013 & 2014 Trip Advisor Travelers’ Choice

Here are some of the features of our 1-Bedroom Suite on the Executive Floor:
1. The living room is outfitted with a sofa bed (instead of a two-seater couch on a 1-bedroom deluxe)
2. It has a separate living room and bedroom, both rooms with LCD TV.
3. A walk-in closet in the bedroom to put all our clothes, luggage, etc.
4. Fully functioning kitchen complete with utensils, glassware, pans, etc.
5. Washing machine with a dryer.
6. Air Purifier and Humidifier
7. A shoe rack to put our shoes in, because I have a teen who also doubles as an octopus as far as footwear is concerned.:)
8. Set of PJ's for 2 persons (but we brought along our own)
9. A strong and free wifi connection
10. Nice, fluffy, clean beds with white, crisp linens.

I made our reservations directly with the hotel. I think it is simpler this way because there is a real person to communicate with. I was able to make specific inquiries, and I got my replies ASAP.  And, if you book early enough, you can avail of their early bird discount.
I made simultaneous bookings online via and by directly getting in touch with the hotel. I found that I got the best deal by directly dealing with a live person from the hotel. The savings was substantial enough and I was able to get a one-bedroom suite on the Executive floor at a price that was much less that what was offered on the online site.

Since we went on the cherry blossom season, prices for rooms were quite on the high side.  Discussing with a live person comes in handy when I had to negotiate for a lower rate:
  •  I was able to avail of a discount by taking their weekly rate which they offer to guests who stay for more that 7 days.  I am not sure if I could’ve gotten that if I booked via the online site. 
  •  I did not avail of the "complimentary" breakfast that came with the room.  We were in Osaka, after all, the food capital of Japan!  Also,  I am sure we would NOT enjoy eating the same and limited breakfast the hotel usually offers as standard fare anyway.
  • I was also able to further lower our cost by asking them to take out the daily housekeeping.  Instead we got housekeeping services every other day, but the towels are changed daily and trash is also taken out daily. Besides, my kids are old already so there wasn’t any mess to clean up on a daily basis anyway.      

No need to worry about where to eat breakfast!  Takashimaya is just a stone’s throw away. The hotel is also surrounded by many restaurants:
Ippudo Ramen is directly across it, it's the one with the big red lantern.
 A 24-hour Mc Donald’s is diagonally across it.
Masso (the restaurant where the hotel's breakfast is served daily) is right beside Fraser.  Further along is 551 Horai, which serves the best tasting siopao called "butaman"
There are 2 Family Marts nearby. Yoshinoya and Pepper Lunch are also within the area.  There is a tiny stall at the corner of the street that sells Okonomiyaki even until the wee hours of the night.
We have even more choices if we cross over to Namba station....endless food everywhere, really.  We are in Osaka, after all... well- known as Japan's kitchen!

Our room at Fraser Residence has clean and modern interiors that are comfortable to come home to after a long tiring day of walking and sightseeing. I am particular with room lighting, and Fraser’s room make great use of lighting that we always felt immediately rested as soon as we stepped in. It was as if we were living in our own home. The living area offers enough space for the 5 of us to walk around, and is perfect for relaxing after the kids are already sleeping in the bedroom.
There are 2 flatscreen TVs, one in the living room and one in the bedroom. They also have a DVD player, i-pod dock, iron, and ironing board. There is also free Wi-Fi in all the rooms and the lobby.  As far as the in-room appliances are concerned, there is a manual with detailed instructions in English and Japanese, complete with illustrations, on how to operate all the electrical appliances from Washing machine, dryer, microwave, tv, how to change to cable tv, and everything else.

I booked the 1-bedroom executive suite because even if it costs a little bit more, it is worth the extra money since it comes with a full-sized sofa bed. On the other hand, the 1-bedroom deluxe suite is just outfitted with a 2-seater couch which would have been useless for us since no one would be able to sleep on it comfortably. 
The executive suites are all housed on the higher floors, and are less noisy. Fraser is located near a highway bridge, and based on what I read on Trip Advisor, noise from passing cars and ambulances could be quite a disturbance at night. We were not bothered by any such noise, though, on our floor.
And because I informed them beforehand that I was traveling with my kids, they gave me their biggest room among the 1-bedroom suites. We got a room on the topmost floor, it was almost a corner room and we had a beautiful view of Osaka’s busy streets. Request the type of room which suit your requirements, the staff are very helpful and they aim to please

I am really happy with the hotel I chose for my family.  My kids agree, look how they made themselves at home almost immediately!  The photo below was taken an hour after check-in.
Our bedroom has two "twin" beds, but the beds are bigger than the regular twin, and can fit 2 people comfortably.  The beds are so comfortable that I was always the only one up very early.  I had to wake them all up, otherwise I don't think they would've minded staying in the whole day!
We were impressed with the size of the room and the adjoining walk-in closet. This small space was useful as this was where we placed some of our luggage to keep the room free from clutter.  The drawers and shelves also served as a place to put our soiled clothes and those that are in need of washing.  You can see the small safe the hotel provided, and right beside it is where I placed the medicine kit which I prepared and brought along.
The bathroom is large for Japanese standards. We just love the heated toilet seat and the multiple buttons that came with it.:)
Bongga lang naman ang designer Shiseido toiletries provided.
Since we stayed in Japan for 11 days, it was inevitable that some washing had to be done at some point during the trip. That is one of the reasons why I chose this serviced apartment also. Our unit had a high-tech washing machine that also functions as a dryer. I used the electronic manual to help me figure out how to use this futuristic looking washing machine. The dual function was such a heaven sent for me. I would dump all our socks, scarves, underwear, shirts in the washing machine in the morning before we head out, and I would come back home at night to washed and dried clothes, just waiting to be folded or used the next day. Since we stayed in an executive suite, the laundry detergent was complimentary.

But I made sure to wash only clothes that did not need any ironing.  Although we have an iron and ironing board in the room, we did not really make use of it.  Save for that one time, when I took a bath, and everything was quiet... suspiciously so!  When you have a son, you know that something is brewing when you do not hear him tease his sister, or hear him drop anything, or simply just hear him - period!!!  When I came out of the bath, this is what I saw:
He took out the ironing board from the walk-in closet... at in-assemble mag-isa! Ang kulit! hahaha!  Of course he couldn't put it back by himself...

The mini kitchen came with a complete set of everything: induction cooker stove, refrigerator, microwave, stainless steel knives and utensils, plates, bowls, wine glasses, coffee cups, chopping board, pots, cleaning sponge, dishwashing liquid... you get the idea. 
The kitchen was also a very useful space for us because I prepare the breakfast for the family every morning. One of the things we had to give up for our lower rate was the “complimentary” breakfast. 
Complimentary breakfast is not really free, guests actually still have to pay a minimal fee for it. I have read a lot of reviews in Trip Advisor complain about the quality of their breakfast. Breakfast is served at Massa, a restaurant next door. It is not a buffet breakfast, but a limited variety of cold cuts, cereals and breads. Guest choose from three sets, which does not change its selections. I am sure after the third day of eating the same thing, we would all find the hotel’s limited breakfast selection to be lame already. But we still visited the restaurant almost everyday since we brought along our reusable water container with us, and we would troop over to the restaurant every morning to refill our containers for the day.:) 

There is a small dining table to eat our breakfast
As for breakfast, Takashimaya was just a 5-minute walk away, and its food hall beckons to me with its huge discounts at the end of every day! We would buy whatever we fancy, on discount, before they close; and I would serve it for breakfast the next day! What a great deal! Bargain na, busog pa! hahaha!
On our last night, we decided to just buy our dinner and eat in our room. This was the only time we ate dinner inside the room. 
After this dinner, the husband and the two younger ones didn’t want to go out anymore. My son said he just wanted to “chill in the room, mom.” So Big Girl J and I went out to Shinsaibashi for some last minute shopping. It wasn’t scary to venture out in the night just the two of us. Even at 10 pm, the streets were still quite filled with people walking home.

Overall, my family and I thoroughly enjoyed our 11-day long stay. Fraser Residences was a great base for us to explore the Kansai region. If you are travelling with kids and you want space and convenience, then Fraser Residences is THE hotel to stay.

Staff are exceptionally friendly & accomodating. Despite the language barrier, they will patiently try to understand and attend to the guests' needs. When you book with Fraser, they can also make reservations for you for certain attractions ( I asked their help to reserve a slot in the Suntory Yamazaki Distillery Guided Tour even before we left Manila).

If you also plan to stay here, click here to get a detailed instruction on how to get from KIX to the hotel.  In addiiton, let me share with you some more instructions for when you step out of the Nankai train station: walk out of the Nankai-Namba train Central exit, walk down the Namba Parks escalator, turn left at the underpass and walk toward the traffic light where you can see MacDonalds. Cross the street towards the hole-in-the-wall Okonoyaki stand and viola, you are at the Fraser Nankai main door - it is opposite a Pachinko slot gaming arcade. In fact, if you look up and over the flyover when you are on the escalator, you will see the Fraser Residence.

Fraser Residences Nanka Osaka
1-17-11, Nambanaka, Naniwa-ku,
Osaka 556-0011, Japan
Tel: +81-6-6635-7111
Fax: +81-6-6635-7555
Reservations: +81-6-6635-7170

***In my next post, I will share with you about the budget hotel where my sisters stayed.  They joined us on our trip at the last minute and all the rooms at Fraser were occupied already.  Toyoki Inn is a budget hotel, so keep in mind that you generally get what you pay for : a very small room, no closet but just hooks on the wall to hang your clothes, also be prepared to stow your bags underneath the bed.

But while the room was very small, it was immaculately clean and everything they needed was provided for. Their room has a full-sized bed that can fit two person comfortably.  Overall, they recommend it, and it is the perfect hotel for no frills budget traveler.

I've updated this post to provide a link to ALL MY JAPAN POSTS!