With the exception of being rendered incommunicado due to language barrier, the latest erected Centurion Hotel, located in Ikebukuro, isn’t the Bill Murray experience. Still, the location is more authentic than Lost in Translation’s Hyatt glory; the Japanese have no time for the macro, they are masters of maximising every tight space available to its full use. To make an obvious observation, it’s a natural adaptation to living in one of the densest cities in the world. Centurion Hotel Ikebukuro is just by the corner leading to an alleyway off Meiji Dori (after the Ikebukuro station) – its built like a slim glass and concrete orthotope resting where you’d imagine a century old ramen shop should be.
There is only one compact entrance in which two elevators lead up to Denny’s restaurant, the hotel’s lobby, and subsequent floors. The lobby is garnished gawkily with tawdry design emblematic to Japan, cherry blossoms are emblazoned on the walls, carpets, and the receptionist desk’s backdrop. Locals had told us that Ikebukuro is where the Triads and Yakuzas hang – this room expectedly has the intentionally tacky aesthetic of Sega’s Yakuza and Shenmue series. Maybe those two titles were meticulously designed to represent real Japan after all.
Manoeuvring the tight hallways to the double bed standard room, there’s a remarkable resemblance to the design of boutique hotels like Singapore’s BIG Hotel and also some stark contrast to them as well. While BIG Hotel is Spartan in both design and embellishments, Centurion attempts to make their rooms minute versions of the five-star experience. The dimly lit atmosphere and its dark colour template coupled with the scale of the room make it seem like they are at odds with each other – you can’t help but find it endearing, much like the chibi culture in Japan. The hotel also include as many regular hotel amenities as possible, from a seating area, air conditioning, LCD/plasma television, refrigerator, and right down to having a small bath tub that couldn’t possibly fit the average-sized Anglo. Maximising space and practicality might not be one of the same, it turns out.
Ultimately, comfort is imperative to a guest’s enjoyment. And Centurion Hotel is indubitably comfortable for a good sleep in. There is also the matter of experience – it may come off as pretentious, but to opt for a hotel such as Centurion Hotel Ikebukuro as opposed to the rarer, bigger ones in the city centre gives Tokyo a more personal touch. Things become a lot less touristy the farther you are from the clichés sold in guide books. Protip: Try the ramen shops nearby, particularly Mutekiya.
1-8-9 HIGASHI IKEBUKURO
1700013, TOKYO, JAPAN
T: +81 3 6912 6031
Centurion Hotel Ikebukuro starts at RM380 before taxes on Agoda.com. Prices are updated regularly according to season and availability, so booking in advance is highly recommended.
Also check out the Agoda.com app mobile-exclusive deals on hotels.