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Review: The Nohga Hotel Ueno, Tokyo

Jet lag, client meetings, and the promise of late night ramen shops – juggling it all can be daunting. After landing at Narita Airport, I needed a base I could get to quickly, would set me up for navigating Tokyo easily, and I could use for laundry, gym, and client meetings. Enter the Nohga Hotel Ueno . I’m a big fan of the Nohga Hotel Kiyomizu in Kyoto, so when I saw a deal on Agoda for the Ueno edition, I grabbed it. Let’s explore how it went.

There are affiliate links in this post for Agoda. I do find Agoda useful for getting hotel deals in Asia and use it frequently. That makes a big difference in Tokyo where a hotel like Marriott’s budget brand, Aloft, can cost $300+ per night for the most basic room. The Nohga is a nicer hotel than an Aloft and cost $100 less for the most basic room. If you think you might book a hotel through Agoda, please use the links in this post. 

On arrival, the hotel offered me a custom coin for a free welcome drink from the wine and juice vending machine on the second floor. There was a Japanese natural red, a local sake, an orange juice from Wakayama, and apple juice from Aomori. I almost went with the orange juice from Wakayama, where I was once a teacher, but opted for the sake. It was after 9pm and Tokyo’s lights and steel and concrete pair well with sake. 

The second floor also has an outdoor lounge area, the laundry machines, gym, and some chairs and tables in a mini-library overlooking the restaurant.

For Digital Nomads: the Nohga Ueno is more of a base, not a workspace

Digital nomads looking for a base in Tokyo should take note that the Nohga Ueno, while a beautifully designed retreat, isn’t ideal for work if you need a desk. I knew what the rooms were like from the Nohga Kiyomizu, but the Ueno hotel lacks the specialized work areas found in its Kyoto counterpart. I did calls with my phone tripod balance on the vanity while I took notes on the top of the mini-fridge.

When you see photos of the Nohga Ueno, they’ll often show a large table. I assumed that was similar to the large tables with power outlets in Kyoto. It’s not. That table is only for the restaurant’s use and it’s often covered. It’s where the bread and salad buffet is spread out at breakfast.

Rooms at Nohga Hotels always have a design magazine that explains the history of the hotel and its neighborhood, highlights local shops and restaurants, and provides details on the products used throughout the hotel, often made in collaboration with local artists. Even the rental bikes get cool names and a write-up.

Although the hotel doesn’t have the most ideal spaces for setting up a laptop and getting work done, it does have excellent internet speeds. I did a livestream from the hotel and that was great. In my room and the common areas, I always got over 100 Mb/s up and down.

As a base for Tokyo exploration, it did meet all of my expectations–easy to access after a long flight, laundry machines (with soap) and a good gym, easy to visit other locations in Tokyo or to leave the city, Ueno Park is packed with experiences to enjoy, and the Ueno-Asakusa-Sumida area is a more old-school part of Tokyo I enjoy walking around.

When I mentioned the lack of workspaces, you might be wondering: “Guide, why not just get a coffee in the restaurant and do some work there?” Well, because most of the tables were not high enough to even fit my knees under. I like my laptop at eye-level, not belly-button level.

How is breakfast at Bistro Nohga?

Bistro Nohga offers a decent breakfast, but the true culinary adventure lies in Ueno’s streets, especially around the station. Ueno is packed with restaurants that get line-ups at every meal time. There are also delicious bakeries and coffee shops in the area that have a distinct retro-Tokyo feel.

For breakfast at the Nohga, guests can choose between four options. The option you pick comes with an all-you-can-eat salad, fruit and bread buffet.

At 3500 yen ($24 USD), I didn’t feel it was a great value. If you’re a full-time traveler that also visits the gym, and you want to get enough protein, I recommend grabbing food at the convenience store down the street and enjoying it in Ueno Park.

How is the gym at the Nohga Ueno?

The hotel has been around for a little over five years, so everything still feels brand new, including the gym equipment.

The heaviest dumbbells were 10 kg (22 lbs). There was a rowing machine, treadmill, and one of those cable weight machine thingies that tries to do every exercise. 

You reserve a gym time at the front desk, so it’s just you in there when you’re working out. As a private gym, it works well.

Would I stay at the Nohga Ueno again?

Yes, I would stay at the Nohga Hotel Ueno again. The ease of taking one train from Narita and the spaciousness of the hotel rooms, for the price, is actually quite good for Tokyo. Especially if you’re doing work outside of your hotel room or you’re on some tourist adventures, then the Nohga is an excellent, reliable base. 

With all taxes and fees included, the Standard Double room cost $197 USD per night and I booked that through Agoda here.

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