Accommodation in Kumamoto: Airbnb Review
We were looking for accommodation in Kumamoto two months before our stay. However, 90% of the hotels in Kumamoto was booked out, and none left for our budget range. So we went looking through the Airbnb listing, and alas, there were not many options too! Only two choices were in good location and within our budget. Not sure why the occupancy rate at Kumamoto was so high for that weekend.
We didn’t want to stay at Airbnb for our first trip with an 8-month-old infant. It’s better to have a concierge in case of emergencies. Moreover, a friend told us they there was no heating at the Airbnb he stayed in Mount Aso (also in the region). As a result, his pregnant wife suffered from the cold.
I am scared of cold and I have an infant. Thus, I specifically wrote in to ask about the heating, but they gave me half-truth (read on).
Airbnb Listing: One Bedroom apt by Kumamoto Castle (www.airbnb.com.sg/rooms/8133992)
Period of Stay: 23 – 25 February 2018
Amount Paid: S$216.72 (for 2 Nights)
- Per night: S$68.83
- Cleaning Fees: S$55.07
- Airbnb Service Fee: S$23.98
Parking: There was no free parking and the host suggested two public (paid) carparks nearest to the apartment. The two carparks have different fee structure and the closest one that’s a minute walk is too expensive for our two full day parking. Hence we went to the other one, about 1-2 minutes walk and paid 2,000 Yen (S$25).
Getting to the Apartment
From the carpark, it’s a straight walk to the place. However, with a baby, stroller, two big luggage and a handful of hand-carry, this is more troublesome than having a carpark in the building. Moreover, we had some difficulty locating the place, especially with construction blocking the entrance.
I didn’t capture in the photo below, but there were steps to the entrance. So after a ~2.5 hour drive from Nagasaki, hubby still had to do a bit of heavyweight lifting. The building doesn’t seem to be wheelchair friendly from what we know.
Naomi and Frode didn’t meet us at the apartment and according to their profile, they are based in Tokyo. Most likely they got someone else to do the housekeeping. The main door key is in a key box and they had clear instructions on where to find and how to open it. The key box didn’t open easily and my first thought was “Oh no, we are already so tired, I don’t want to be stuck at the door and wait for help to come.” Hubby unlocked the key box the next moment and we were soon inside!
Dining/Living Room and Kitchen
Pardon the mess you see in the photo below. We were carrying so many things that we had to dump everything down when we entered. No more hands for the camera. It’s good that the dining/living area was big enough to put our luggage. The whole apartment was very neat and clean before we stepped in.
On the table, there’s a file with instructions for apartment care, and some Kumamoto travel brochures. And in case you hurt yourself or fell ill, there’s a first aid box near the window.
The small kitchen is well-equipped with cooking equipment, utensils, etc, for you to whip up a meal. Good for us to prepare meals for baby Evangeline.
One downside of living in airbnb is that there’s no daily housekeeping. And in Japan, there’s no rubbish chute in the house. According to their instructions, we had to sort out the rubbish and bring it down with us to throw. That’s extra baggage to the many stuff we bring out as parents with infant.
No mineral water was provided, except a half full big bottle. But they did provide some Japanese snacks for us to munch on, which was a sweet gesture.
Walking past the dining/living/kitchen area, we arrived at the bedroom and there we plopped our baby on the tatami mat. It was a nice space for her to roll around and play in. However, before we sleep, we had to set up the futon (Japanese traditional style bedding) according to their instructions.
One thing I don’t understand. Why did we have to remove the bed sheets, along with used towels, and throw them in a basket at the end of our stay? They said it’s easier for them to do the laundry and know which towels have been used. Hmm, why do I have to do this work for them – ain’t this included in the cleaning fee? And what if I used and folded a towel back? Would they not wash it?
Since they seemed to be quite strict with their check out timing at 10:00am, we had to make sure we got up earlier to prepare the baby and ourselves, throw the rubbish and remove the sheets and towel.
“May I know if there’s heater in the house? We are coming from a tropical country and with a 8 month old. Thank you.”
“Yes we have Air Conditioner in the apartment. :-)”
The noob me didn’t know that there’s heating function in air-conditioner until hubby told me. So that’s great, we are good to go!
One of the first thing I did when we arrived was to switch on the heating function of the air-conditioner. It was located in the bedroom and after a while, I noticed that only the bedroom is heated up! The other spaces remained chilly. What the….
The living room gets very cold in the night when we were there during winter. Thus, it’s a chilly walk to the bathroom at night. This was especially unpleasant after I showered because I had to walk to the bedroom to dress myself. Same for baby. And it was also unpleasant when I had to wake up at night to pee. That’s why I said the hosts told me half-truth. If I knew about this, I might not even have considered this place.
Just so you know, there’s no WiFi in this apartment. Moreover, it would be great if there’s a dresser table in front of the mirror. It would be easier for me to put on my make up and use my hair straightener. It’s only when we were about to leave that I noticed a small table mirror to use. It would have been helpful, though still not ideal, to use it on the low table in the room.
They provided clean towels and basic toiletries such as shampoo, hair conditioner and shower foam. Japanese bathroom is small, but this is smaller than usual, at least smaller than the one at our Nagasaki hotel. Hence I felt constricted when showering.
My baby was crying one night because she was tired. Thus hubby was trying to shower her quickly and put her to bed. Who knows, halfway through the warm shower for her, the hot water ran out!!! He waited a while more but there was only more cold water. Imagine you are cold and tired, and you only have cold water to shower. So it’s not surprising that she screamed even louder. And with the living room being chilly too, I was praying baby Evangeline wouldn’t catch a cold!
Location and Communication
The location is really good. If you are there only for Kumamoto Castle, then this place is excellent. About 8-10 minutes walk to Josaien that is at the foot of Kumamoto Castle. It’s also 10-15 minutes walk to Shimotori Shopping Arcade, Kumamoto’s largest shopping arcade, and Ginza Dori. Great places to shop, dine and drink.
According to an Airbnb reviews, it’s also near the bus terminal and 3-min to the closest tram stop (花畑町 Hanabatcho).
Location is good, but the noise
Oh but the common complaint we read is the traffic or noise from the street. We didn’t really hear much BUT, in afternoon when we arrived, we heard ambulance siren blaring real loudly two to three times. Hence we asked the host if this will continue through the night, because baby Evangeline is a light sleeper…and we needed good rest!
“I am not sure about the sirens… we are in the central Kumamoto and on the main road so we do have a lot of movements outside… Hope it’s not too loud for you.”
When we were walking to Kumamoto Castle the next day, I saw a hospital or medical center near to the apartment. They failed to mention this. Half truth.
Other than the half truths, overall communication was good. Naomi & Frode took the initiative to message us and make sure everything was okay. Also, they willingly helped us to call and make a dinner reservation in Japanese.
Just a side note, they gave us their blog post for things to do in Kumamoto. We made a few detours and went to one of their recommended places, Kumamoto Prefecture Bussan Museum, only to find out it was closed for renovation. :(
3 out of 5 stars. I would have given it 2 stars if not for their good location. However, if I am travelling during warmer weather and without a baby, I might rate it 4 stars.
If you decided to go ahead with this or other Airbnb listing, you can sign up with my referral link and get S$45 credit: www.airbnb.com.sg/c/christinas7795
Do have a look at my Overview Itinerary of Northern Kyushu, Japan (Winter/Spring 2018) for other posts around the region.