Hotels appeal to train buffs

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The Independent Travel

Hotels located near major train stations in the Japanese capital are wooing a new breed of customer by offering rooms with a "rail view."

Several hotel chains operating similar packages say they are proving popular, particularly among families with young children and railway engine fanatics who enjoy watching the trains passing to and fro. Among the most popular trains are Japan's legendary bullet trains.

The other bonus for the hotels is that the rooms available through the "rail view" packages are less popular with other guests because they are noisy.

"Our hotel is located very close to Akabane Station and most people ask for rooms away from the railway lines and overlooking the shopping district," Kumiko Kishimto, a spokeswoman for the Hotel Mets Akabane, told Relaxnews. "But for anyone who wants to watch the trains going through the station, then the other side of the hotel is much more popular."

Rooms on the west side of the building have an unobstructed view of seven regular railway lines plus two elevated bullet train tracks. The Cassiopeia night-train from Tokyo to Sapporo, in the far north of Japan, also passes through the station every evening and is high on the wish-list of train spotters.

The Odakyu Hotel Century Southern Hotel introduced the grandly named "Just like the N-Gauge Model - Train-View Stay Plan" in June, borrowing the name of the Japanese standard for model railway sets, according to spokeswoman Etsuko Sunaga.

"Our sales director came up with this plan with another member of our front desk staff, who is crazy about trains," she said. "Most of our guests are young families and people who just love trains."

The hotel is part of the Odakyu Railways group and overlooks Shinjuku Station, listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the busiest station in the world with an average of 3.64 million passing through each day. It has 11 lines and more than 200 exits from the station.

The hotel puts train fans in the corner rooms on its upper levels, according to Ms. Sunaga, and provides a range of souvenirs of their stay, including stickers and paperweights made of a short length of an Odakyu railway track.

Hotel Mets Akabane, 1-1-76 Akabane, Kita-ku, Tokyo, 115-0045. Tel. +81 3 5939 0011.

Odakyu Hotel Century Southern Tower, 2-2-1 Yoyogi, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo 151-8583. Tel. +81 3 5354 0111.