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Toyoko Inns to bring Japan to New York

Successful all over Japan, the Toyoko Inn group is exporting its philosophy of cut-price, no-frills accommodation to New York.

The company operates 225 properties in Japan - a rapid expansion from a single hotel when the company was first set up in January 1986 - and specializes in providing cheap rooms for people travelling on business.

That concept is being extended overseas with the company announcing that it has secured a site in a 640-room tower in the New York borough of Queens.

The selling point will be its location - on the other side of the Hudson River directly opposite midtown - and access to public transport facilities. On top of that, it will charge slightly over $100 per night for a room. An average room in New York costs from $210 per night.

On the down side, the rooms will generally be smaller than 200 square feet (18.5 square meters) - when the average for a hotel in the Big Apple is more than 325 square feet (30 square meters) - and be equipped with little more than a bed, bathroom, desk and television. There will be free internet access and guests will also be able to try a simple, Japanese-style breakfast of rice balls, miso soup and boiled eggs, which is included in the room rate.

The Tokyo-based company engaged New York architect Gene Kaufman to design the hotel, its first foray into a market outside Japan.

The company makes no apologies for the services it provides, which have been a success at home.

"Unlike resort hotels, city hotels or hot spring inns, we do not offer extravagant facilities or services for holiday or vacation travellers," the company said in a statement. "Instead, we provide a comprehensive range of facilities and services that are designed to satisfy business travellers who are away from home.
"By streamlining our facilities and services, and by simply providing clean, comfortable and relaxing rooms, we are able to offer our guests reasonable rates," it said.

The Toyoko Inn group will be following in the footsteps of other Asia-based budget accommodation chains such as Tune Hotel. The Malaysian company opened its first property outside Asia in London in August.

The strength of the yen, combined with a range of new flight options available from the newly enlarged Haneda International Airport, means that New York is becoming a popular destination for Japanese tourists as well as businesspeople.