Last week I introduced you to the wonderful world of Japanese hotel plans, with a promise of how to make a hotel reservation online (in Japanese). Some of you mentioned your experiences and the ease of finding hotels, which is very true for major cities, heavily traveled areas, searching in English, etc. Perhaps you want to go off the beaten track a little bit, or even just try and find a few more (affordable) options. My secrets to finding a decent hotel typically involve Google maps, Rakuten (in Japanese), Trip Advisor, and sometimes just typing the name of the location with "ホテル" (hotel) in my search engine to see what comes up. (I don't typically stay at ryokan because the touristy ones are far too expensive - sometimes up to 100,000 yen a night. There are good ones out there, and good deals, but this would require an entirely different post to delve into).
Many hotel sites offer some English version of their site, even if only a page. And while you may come across some decent deals in English, I would advise looking through the Japanese version of the site as well. (Sometimes you won't have a choice, if the site is ONLY in Japanese). I've almost always found better deals on the Japanese version of the site (again, not EVERY time, but most of the time).
The following how-to covers just one hotel site as an example. Of course, you probably all know that websites vary and the order in which they do things may be slightly different than presented here. Generally the steps are typically the same, but don't panic if a step on the site you are using differs from those below. Look at the kanji, compare and try to discern what information is being asked for.
All right, let's book a room shall we?
*Note: pictures correspond to the text above them.
1. I'm starting on this particular hotel's main page. Of course, not every hotel's main page will look the same, although the kanji are generally similar. In this case, the green arrow is pointing at the button to click for room information. The button to the right of that allows you to look at plans and/or change/cancel a reservation. The blue arrow below is pointing at the brown button that takes you directly to the plan page.
2. Let's say we clicked on the button for more room information. The page appears with pictures and descriptions of rooms. I've added English to common words you will see on most any hotel site. The single, double, etc., refer to bed size. The table indicates cost for the total for the number of people but once you look at the plans the prices are listed per person. Most hotels in Japan charge per person rather than per room (the latter of which is common in the U.S.), and will usually indicate prices as per person.
Amenities are listed towards the bottom, but for the sake of brevity I have not included a picture of all of them. Most are listed in katakana (some in hiragana/kanji), and say things like bath, toilet, hair dryer, etc (this is where your translator tool comes in handy). Yes, not every hotel has a bath and toilet in room - many are "dorm style."
From this page, click on the large red button to view plans.
3. Now we begin our plan journey. The first plan listed here is a summer single (semi-double) special discount plan for 1 to 2 people, available from April 6th to July 31st. The text is essentially trying to convince you how amazing it is and why you should choose that particular plan. Moving on.
4. More plan details: breakfast info, more amenities info such as free parking, free rental humidifier, air purifier, extra blankets, etc., microwave on every floor, free wireless internet, rental laptop for 1000 yen, etc. Keep scrolling down.
5. Past all the plan details are the room types and prices. I've labeled the types (shown here, single room or couple with semi-double bed, smoking or non-smoking). Prices are per person per night. Click the button in the corresponding row of the room you want.
6. Next I'm asked to choose the date with a calendar. Websites will display this info in different ways - sometimes a list, sometimes a calendar, etc. Most often a circle means available, a triangle means nearly full, and an X or - for unavailable. (Or, perhaps just unavailable for the particular plan, depending on the dates). So click on the desired day of check-in, and either enter the number of nights in another box or click a second time for preferred check-out day.
7. Scroll down and the chosen date appears in the appropriate drop down boxes. Enter the number of nights in the box on the right with the kanji 泊 (はく, haku), which is the counter for nights.
Choose the number of adults, usually with the kanji 大人 (おとな, otona). If you have children, then you might choose either of the other two options, or another word, such as お子様. (You'll often see 子 when referring to children). *Not every hotel will offer an option for children when making a reservation online, and they can have varying policies, prices and discounts depending on the age of children.
8. After clicking confirm, the room details and booking information show up on the next page. Read it over to ensure everything is accurate.
9. Further down the page, the complete details of the plan and reservation are listed (in the green box). Plan details on the left, meals in the second column, and the total for one night for two people. Click the button on the far right to confirm.
10. Many hotels (but not all) will ask you to register your information for their site/hotel (at least, that has been my experience). The process is relatively easy, although can be a hassle at times. If you've previously booked at that hotel or chain, then enter in the appropriate information. In the picture below, those are the first two fields. If it's the first time on this site, then click on the second button.
11. The following form is similar to most, which may come in handy. *Sometimes the name fields want hiragana, or katakana, or may accept roman letters. If there is no designation, then enter in one type (katakana is usually safe) and proceed forward. You'll get an error message if it doesn't work; in which case go back and try another means of entering your name. Out of all three, katakana was the only one that worked for me in both name fields on this particular site (and yes I tried hiragana and roman letters just to test it out).
I shaded out the company information below, but if you need to enter company info, then you would do so in the appropriate fields.
12. You may need to confirm the registration through e-mail, although not necessarily. If you receive an e-mail regarding the information, click on the appropriate link to confirm. For this, and many others, it simply takes you to the next page, with the plan and reservation information listed, including the total cost and cancellation policy.
In the green box below, the name for the reservation should already be listed. This may or may not appear on other hotel sites. In most cases though, you will need to choose how many men or women that will be staying in the room(s). The kanji to look for regarding men: 男 and women: 女.
Finally enter your contact number if necessary and your desired check-in time (most sites will ask when you will be checking in - it's important to call or let them know if you're running late, so put a later time if unsure).
13. After finishing and confirming the previous page, your reservation confirmation will appear. If you'd like to e-mail this info to yourself or someone else, feel free to use either your e-mail address (already listed) or add another in the empty field. Press the button to confirm and send.
And that's it. The reservation has been made. Watch for an e-mail though, if you don't receive an e-mail confirmation than the reservation may not have worked. Although if you got to this point, and filled out the e-mail confirmation information, then you should receive one.
*Remember, this tutorial is for just one hotel, and that any process can vary slightly (or even significantly).
Questions? Feel free to comment.