There’s a weird place out there called Nui. Hostel & Bar Lounge. It’s filled with aesthetically pleasing design, where cement absorbs clean cut timber and steel. Where classical stools stand side by side with modern ones as if they are family. Where locals looking like a Yohji Yamamoto catwalk sit and converse with travelers in North Face jackets. It’d kind of be beautiful if I could step out side myself for a minute. Nui. Hostel & Bar in Kuramae, Tokyo is this place and if only I could leave my hesitations at the door, it could just be the best hostel in Tokyo.
Hang on. This place checks every single box I have for a place to stay while travelling. Cool people, Friendly staff, affordable rooms, good location… so why my hesitation? It’s because it is too perfect… I have to find a flaw and after thinking about it I find it in my own personal hang ups. ‘This is simply idiotic’ I pondered to myself while sipping on as good a flat white as anywhere, listening to some guy from Norway play on the piano in the common area, while girls swoon over his blond hair and blue eyes.
I’m jealous. I’m jealous that I have to share some beautiful shit.
So… let’s step outside myself for a second. There’s a bar, with any drink available that serves drinks until 3am. A kitchen with an awesome breakfast menu until 11am, that then serves lunch and dinner and all of it is just fucking delicious. Beds and a hostel area that feels more like someones home than it does a 5 story building in west Tokyo. Staff and locals that actually will talk to you and surprise you with their interest of what you’re doing there. It’s a hangout, bar, cafe, restaurant and hotel.
I was just about done with hostel life before I stayed at Nui. Hostel & Bar and to be honest, I still think I am. The majority of places just don’t have this level of polish and I did fork out a little bit extra for a single room by myself. The area is a little far from areas like Shibuya and Harajuku but don’t let that deter you. Nui Hostel & Bar is simply put, the first place you should look for accommodation in Tokyo if you enjoy backpacking, travel and design.
If I had a preference it would be that I’d stay at Hostel 64 in Osaka every time I visited there. I’m sure once I become a full fledged adult that the Grand Hyatt will become more appealing but as it stands as a wunderlusting backpacker I’d stay at Hostel 64 every single day.
It’s always going to hold a special place to me because it was the first hostel I ever stayed at but more than that it’s a sublime example of hostel life that is considerably rare when you’re a backpacker where cockroaches and communal toilets are common place.
Hostel 64 doubles as a show piece for local architectural firm Arts&Crafts who renovated every inch of the 1964 building into a hybrid of modern and retro styling. It’s so handsome in every single way that you sometimes have to force yourself to get out and explore Osaka.
Hostel 64 has a number of features that sets itself apart. Firstly the lounge area is small but incredibly cosy with boutique art, photography and architecture books and magazines available for anyone to read. Some of the best tips for design hungry travelers resides in these articles.
The hostel also has a typically small Japanese style bar that is open every night to the public as well as guests. Hostel workers Naomi and Mineko are beyond friendly and will share a drink with you as well as offering tips on upcoming art launches or places worth checking out.
There is also a brilliant roof top area for lounging on those super humid Japanese nights. The fact there is a Family Mart 1 minute walk from the hostel and that the hostel has no problem with you bringing back a swag full of Asahi’s makes it all the better.
Breakfast is available and is cute beyond belief. A small affair consisting of yogurt, bread and OJ and costs ¥300. One communal laptop is for guest use and costs ¥100 for 20 minutes.
The hostel also holds community events every so often. When I was there all guests were invited to take part in a Mochi making night, probably because Naomi is vocal in her love for Mochi. It’s just another excellent way to keep guests communicating with each other.
Lastly, you have to try each of the 4 showers in the hostel. Each one is a different experience and as foreign as it is the ‘Automatic Cleaning System’, where you sit down and a machine oscillates around you actually works. It feels like your in the year 3000 but whatever.
The dorm is the best I experienced on my trip purely because of the security shade. I honestly can’t figure out why more hostels don’t offer this. Temperatures are cool because of the walls and floor are concrete and its on the ground floor. If you’re still hard to please just crank up the air conditioner but please be mindful of other guests.
A secure locker is provided but it can’t hold much more than your passport and cash but you soon learn in Japan that it’s quite okay to be a bit more carefree with your bags.
The dorm costs from ¥3,300 a night but there are also Western style private rooms and Futon rooms starting from ¥7900 a night.
But if I have to offer one tip it would be to rent one of the hostels bicycles for ¥1000 a day. Ever since I rode around Osaka I’ve been hooked on bike riding and for the rest of my trip I was trying to find bicycles to rent because of my love affair with my Hostel 64 bike. Sadly, every other bike felt like a cheap chinese knock off and couldn’t compare to the freedom I felt the first time I got a bike on my trip You could ride to any of Osakas main areas in 20 minutes from the hostel.
Geez, if you seriously can’t tell how much I loved staying here, I originally booked a week and couldn’t get my ass to leave Osaka for another 3 purely because I wanted to keep coming back. Did I mention that they have the best most fun music playing in the lounge all day?
By the way, one of the most hidden bars you’re ever likely to find is a 5 minute walk from the hostel (but good luck finding it).
Hostel 64 is located at:
3-11-20 Shinmachi, Nishi-ku
+81 6 6556-6586
© 2018 Carey Ciuro