The grand plan was to spend approximately three days at Osaka and I was thanking my lucky stars I was able to snag myself those two nights in the very new Intercontinental Osaka, right in the heart of the city. The rates were so good I couldn’t not book and the location was just unbeatable.
I have to add that I wasn’t able to book any accommodation under the Intercontinental Hotels Group (IHG) during my Japan trip other than at Intercontinental Osaka. This was because I booked quite late, just barely a month out from my holiday, and rooms in most hotels in Japan were all filled. This pushed the room rate too high for whatever remaining rooms there were left (oh I bet they were yielding) and it was just beyond what I was comfortable to pay per night for a conveniently located hotel. Intercontinental Osaka was still available so I quickly made sure I got my reservation in. As for Kyoto and Tokyo, we searched high and low for the right apartment from airbnb which wouldn’t burn a hole in our pockets. If you’re late like we were, even apartments cost a bomb because the cheaper and trendier ones are all booked and you’re left with the less value-for-money options.
Frankly though, while many friends rave about booking out a whole apartment on holidays, I still very much prefer the comforts and pampering experience of staying in a hotel room because most importantly, they have good air-conditioning/heating, great bathrooms (with heated toilet seats) and housekeeping.
Intercontinental Osaka is within Grand Front Osaka. Easily accessible from the Shin-Osaka station with partially covered walkways, take a ten minute walk within the shopping and office building complex and you’ll find the entrance to the hotel. Take an elevator up to level 20, step out and there you are facing a gorgeous, sprawling and colourful lobby and reception.
I remember stepping into the lift and a helpful and cheerful staff took us up to lobby level, punching in the right button and explaining that the lobby was on the twentieth floor. She did all this with a really sincere smile and with that Japanese precision. I can’t really describe it. It’s warm and professional at the same time. It’s a bit uneasy initially, but it grows on you.
As the doors opened, she bowed and waited patiently for us to exit the elevator before she herself left. I believe she wasn’t one of the elevator operators and was instead a regular uniformed staff member who happened to take the elevator together with us.
Colourful artwork on display that complemented the lobby furnishing
I was really impressed with what I laid my eyes on in the lobby. It was classy and yet reflected a really modern feel. I guess this was what they meant when they said Intercontinental Osaka represented a contemporary luxury.
We were greeted with great warmth once again at reception and I was promptly recognised as an IHG® Rewards Club member and explained my benefits which included late check-out at 2:00pm. In less than five minutes, we were successfully checked-in and making our way to our room on one of the many guest floors of the hotel.
We proceeded to another set of elevators that accessed the guest floors and what a surprise awaited us when we tapped our keycard, unlocked the door and pushed open the doors. What we saw made us rub our eyes in disbelief, whoop in joy and high-five each other.
Stone table with tea set and large glass working desk
Range of international publications and magazines and view of the city
Our eyes were wide with shock (a good kind) to see such a spacious room that would put most hotels not just in Japan but anywhere else to shame. Not to say that our stay in the small Japanese apartment back in Kyoto was that bad or lying on futons wasn’t an interesting and unique experience, it’s just that after three nights of that and dragging our suitcases around, this was a welcome respite and relief!
Comfortable and plush bed and a side table with chair to lounge in
Light controls and all that jazz at the side table
I wouldn’t really realise how amazing it would be to have managed to get a room here for two nights until a little later on the day we checked in. We weren’t aware how much time we would actually be spending in this beautiful space.
I loved how comfortable and plush the bed was and as soon as I got the above shot, I was already snuggling under the covers and just warming up the bed, rolling around. As usual, I really didn’t feel like leaving the room once I was comfortably on the bed. How typical!
The room is also so immaculately made up and cleaned. There’s nothing to fault really.
A sweet welcome amentiy which resembled little goldfishes
Note from the General Manager
And since this is after all an IHG® hotel, there are the little luxuries I could expect like the welcome amenity (we got a nice square “bowl” of candies which resembled little goldfishes. I also got a little welcome card, signed by the General Manager of Intercontinental Osaka, Hans Heijligers.
It’s the little things that really make me feel so pampered. I can’t imagine a time when I no longer have these perks and benefits and I’ll be back to budget travel for the same amount I pay for my employee rate without these little luxuries. I guess, it’s best I enjoy them to the fullest for now!
Wash basin and all bathroom amenities
Rub-a-dub-dub time for a scrub in the tub
Bath salts, scented soaps and shampoos
What really made a huge impact was stepping into the bathroom and noticing that the toilet was automated (the lid lifts off automatically!) with all the incredible heating and washing functions.
The bathroom actually still had available space for a separate bath plus shower with the Japanese aesthetic in mind as well, and an elevated wash sink. The whole bathroom design was in wood and the walls had a marbled design – ゴージャス (gorgeous)!
I remember when I was staying in on day one, taking a long soothing bath and pouring in the rose scented bath salts. Oh… bliss! The shower is also such an enjoyment because they have BOTH the hand shower and rain shower. Can I actually be happier?
Well-stocked minibar albeit with pricey items
Expect a diverse range of spirits and wins at the in room mini bar
The mini bar was well-stocked as expected of a Japanese hotel! They are famous for having extensive mini bars with all sorts of alcohol from spirits to wines, miniatures to full bottles.
I didn’t consume anything from the mini bar during my stay there and I recall that these come at a high price compared to the konbini (convenience stores). It was quite a distinct difference and so I didn’t have anything.
Anyway, bottled water is available in the room and are offered with compliments from the hotel. You get two bottles initially but you can use the in room phone to get more bottles delivered to your room if you require at no charge.
So unknown to us at check in and as we settled in and got ready to leave our room to explore the nearby shops at the connected malls, Typhoon Vongfong was scheduled to pass through Osaka and shops were already beginning to shutter up in anticipation of the impending typhoon. So this resulted in us not having a place to grab a bite at for dinner.
Eventually, we decided not to fight the hunger and just order in-room dining.
Set meal with onsen tamago, soup, tea and a rice bowl
I’m not one to order from hotel in-room dining menus. Even if I am working in the hotel industry, I still have my doubts that I wouldn’t be able to find better food outside of the hotel for less. Of course in this case, we were in a very special situation, because we were stranded in our hotel room with no dinner!
Being a hungry pig (The F Man said he could survive without dinner, but no way would I starve on holiday), I ordered a set meal for the both of us to share which The F Man didn’t eat in the end as he was really not hungry.
Teriyaki Chicken Rice Bowl
I recall it costed roughly $30 plus in Singapore dollars? But I have to admit the food quality was excellent and I ate every morsel of the delicious rice along with the succulent slices of teriyaki marinated chicken. Everything was so appetising and delicious that I completely finished the leek and peppers even. It was such a fulfilling meal. Yes, it definitely costed more than what we were spending at dinner compared to previous nights, but I guess when you’ve gotta eat, you’ve gotta eat.
I really enjoyed my stay at Intercontinental Osaka and have been egging my colleague, Jeline, to get a room there for her upcoming trip to Osaka as well. It’s just so worth it when you’ve got a benefit like an employee rate for any IHG ® hotel in the world!
If you’re wondering how much a room at Intercontinental Osaka will cost per night. Weekdays are around $300 to around $400 while weekends can go up to $600 and even $1,000 should you book during a high occupancy weekend when internal travel is strong and tourists are flocking in (like during 花見 hanami).
Intercontinental Osaka インターコンチネンタルホテル大阪
530-0011 Ōsaka-fu, Ōsaka-shi, Kita-ku, Ofuka-cho 3 – 60
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