And the free ochazuke makes it even better.

A convenient location and affordable prices are the two things a Japanese business hotel has to have. Since their main target demographic is budget-minded business travelers, and their second is budget-minded leisure travelers, business hotels tend to pare back their other amenities.

It’s a tradeoff most business hotel guests are OK with. Since they’re going to be in meetings or out sightseeing during the day anyway, they wouldn’t be making use of a pool, hair salon, or piano bar. But if there’s one amenity that really is nice to have in a business hotel, it’s a good hotel breakfast, to fuel you up and power you through those a.m. conferences and travel itineraries.

And it’s very hard to top the breakfast buffet at Tokyo’s Vessel Inn Ueno Iriyaeki-mae business hotel.

First, let’s talk about that name. “Iriyaeki-mae” translates to “in front of Iriya Station,” referring here to the Iriya Station in downtown Tokyo on the Hibiya subway line. The hotel is just a one-minute walk out of station exit 3 or 4, and while Iriya might not be a name you’re familiar with, if you’ve looked into travelling in Tokyo you’ll definitely have heard of Ueno and Akihabara Stations. Those are both on the Hibiya Line too. Ueno Station, with its park and museums, is just a two-minute ride from Iriya, and Akihabara, the mecca of electronics shops and otaku attractions, is a five-minute ride away.

But like we said, it’s the breakfast that makes this hotel really special, because it includes all-you-can-eat tuna sashimi shipped directly from Tokyo’s Toyosu fish market, the biggest seafood market in the entire country and where Japan’s capital gets its best fish from.

Of course, if you’re checking in in the afternoon or evening, you’ve got some time until you can start chomping away at that breakfast. Even when you’re not blissing out at the sashimi, though, the Vessel Inn does a lot to make you feel welcome. For example, the common-area lounge on the first floor has a self-serve welcome drink bar with free beverages from 2 to 11 p.m. with a variety of teas, coffees, and other soft drinks.

If you stop by the lounge between 9 and 11 at night, there’s also a free self-serve ochazuke bar.

Ochazuke is a traditional Japanese dish of green tea poured over rice. It makes for a delicious late-night snack since it’s tasty and filling without being heavy or bloating, and it’s loved by everyone from little kids with growling tummies to buzzed salarymen who want to cap a night of drinks with friends with a quick snack before bed.

Vessel Inn thoughtfully provides signs with English instructions on how to prepare a bowl of chazuke (though basically all you do is add white rice, green tea, and toppings of your choice to the bowl) plus little indicators of what each bowl of toppings is (salmon flakes, seaweed, pickles, etc.).

▼ This totally hit the spot!

Like with a lot of business hotels, at the check-in desk there’s a rack stocked with toothbrushes, combs, and other toiletries/amenities to grab if you need them.

The hotel was fully renovated in 2017, and while you wouldn’t call it luxurious, it’s clean, tidy, and well-maintained.

The beds have high-quality Simmons mattresses, a nice luxury for a business hotel. Ours quickly coaxed us into a cozy sleep, and when we woke up, it was finally time for breakfast!

And that breakfast did not disappoint. In addition to slices of tuna sashimi, there was also a bowls full of minced tuna belly (toro) and sliced green onions (negi). Add in the rice cooker filled with white rice, and this was all we needed to make a tuna and negitoro rice bowl, which, if you have the opportunity, is absolutely a great way to start your day.

Since the breakfast, which is served in the first-floor lounge, is all-you-can-eat, we could have just gone back and made negitoro bowl after negitoro bowl for ourselves. That was a tempting scenario, but we figured we should try some of the other food available in the hotel’s breakfast, like the Fukagawa-meshi (a local Tokyo specialty of rice and clams cooked together), tamagoyaki omelets, chilled udon noodles, and spicy tomato curry.

Out of those, the curry in particular was a standout, and after we’d enjoyed it’s spicy kick, we next indulged our sweet tooth with a dish of mitsumame, a dessert popularized in Tokyo’s old town Shitamachi district that contains shiratama (mochi dumplings), sliced fruit, sweet syrup, azuki (sweet red beans), and kinako (roasted soybean powder).

Breakfast is served from 6 to 9:30 a.m., but it’s definitely worth waking up early for. Our single-occupancy room with a breakfast-included plan cost us 10,350 yen (US$72), which is actually a little on the high side for a business hotel, but with a location this convenient, and a breakfast this satisfying, it felt like money well spent to us.

Hotel information
Vessel Inn Ueno Iriyaeki-mae / ベッセルイン上野入谷駅前
Address: Tokyo-to, Taito-ku, Iriya 1-25-6

Photos ©SoraNews24
● Want to hear about SoraNews24’s latest articles as soon as they’re published? Follow us on Facebook and Twitter!
[ Read in Japanese ]