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Hotel Tavinos, Tokyo

Are you planning a trip to Tokyo and looking for a hotel to stay in that offers good value and quality. Check out Hotel Tavinos, a brand new Manga themed hotel in the Hamamatsucho ward of Tokyo.

After much research on affordable Tokyo Accommodation, we came across the trendy and funky new Hotel Tavinos in the Hamamatsucho ward of Tokyo. It only opened its doors in August 2019 and is the perfect choice for your trip to Tokyo. We had not heard of the Hamamatsucho area prior to staying here, but it’s ease to travel on the metro and quieter vibe would have us staying here again. It actually was quite surprising how well situated it was and is a fantastic value option if you cannot afford to stay in the popular areas like Shinjuku and Shibuya.

We wanted somewhere on the JR Yamanote Line of the metro system, as this is the line that all the popular sights of Tokyo are located on. From here it was easy to visit our favourite sites like Shibuya, Harajuku, Akihabara and Shinjuku, all of which will be on your sightseeing check list. This made it super easy to find our way back to our hotel as first time visitors on our days out sightseeing.

The hotel has good access if you are flying into Haneda Airport and is located in a quieter area of Tokyo. We flew into Narita Airport and were able to get here with just one change on the train and a 5 minute walk. The area has great Ramen shops which were recommended to us by the hotel. We ate at Menya Musashi and it had amazing Gyozas and the Ramen was amazing. The place was filled with locals, an easy sign that it’s going to be good.

Ramen Hotel Tavinos
Menya Musashi Ramen Restaurant

Underneath the hotel itself was a large Family Mart – Japan’s well known convenience stores are a perfect spot to refuel for a quick dinner and snacks ( Lawsons and 7/11 are abundant in Tokyo also). They have everything from Ramen, Noodles, Sushi , and Rice Dishes. All theses dishes can be heated up by the staff and make for a great easy introduction to Japan’s quick eats.

Breakfast sweet breads are provided in the morning however we didn’t find these, I think there may be a limited number available and possibly a tour group beat us to it.

The staff at Hotel Tavinos spoke fantastic English and were very welcoming. The electronic check in was breeze to use also and we found ourselves relaxing on our bed within no time.

There is a huge interactive digital “AI concierge” called Tavinoshiori at the hotel that the staff helped us to use. This electronic map board is where you just speak whatever food you are craving and your budget and it shows you live options of all the surrounding eateries and bars in English – great for travellers, I wish more places had this!

We loved the hotels design based on Modern Manga style, it certainly has a very Japanese feel and the artwork is a fantastic welcome to Tokyo. The free tea and coffee in the communal area was a great touch along with the free selection of toiletries from shampoo to body lotion. You can even get pyjamas from downstairs!

We certainly didn’t expect a sea view when visiting Tokyo but our room faced the bay just a stones throw away. Rooms in Japan are smaller than most western travellers are used to, however the clever use of smart storage solutions makes for plenty of space. Our luggage slid underneath the bed so it was all out of the way. There are bedside trays for your beverages and smart charging sockets along with a TV and collapsible table and chairs.

The rooms here are ensuite with great showers and the famed Japanese toilets – heated toilet seat anyone? We heard beds in Japan were very firm but we found them to be super comfy in our room and we had a great nights sleep.

Overall we absolutely loved our stay at Hotel Tavinos and would definitely recommend it to others to stay here given the fantastic nights sleep, comfort, friendly staff and great location. With a huge variety of hotels to choose from in Tokyo, its easy to feel overwhelmed so we hope this review has made the choice a little easier. Book with Booking.com and get 10% back here.

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Thank you Hotel Tavinos for hosting us during our stay in Tokyo. Our stay was complementary but as always, all opinions our own. We truly only recommend places we absolutely love.

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Universal Studios Japan

We have all heard of Universal Studios but did you know that they have a Universal Studios Japan?! Yes the famed theme park has pride of place in Osaka, and let me tell you. It. Is. Amazing!

Phil and I have both been to Universal Studios in Los Angeles and loved our time there so knew we would enjoy it. To get here we hopped on a train from Namba station and after one change found ourselves at Universal Station strolling through the City Walk.

From the iconic Spinning Globe at the entrance to the famous arches you walk under as you arrive. You feel like you are about to enter somewhere special and won’t be able to keep the excitement in. From first glimpse you can see rollercoasters and hear the screams (of joy or fear?!)

We were soon walking through the streets of Hollywood, San Francisco and New York past characters and festively decorated buildings. After stopping to take a few photos for Instagram and feeling like I’m on a living and breathing movie set we made our way to our first ride:

The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man – The Ride 4K3D.  With the Express Pass you can choose to skip the line with several of the rides. You can choose between Jurassic Park – The Ride and Spider – Man. We came across Spider – Man first so hopped in the Express Pass line and awaited the adventure. I won’t give anything away but it was amazing – just as the titles suggest. Be sure to keep a look out when you exit as down one of the alleyways you might spot Spider-Man himself!

A short stroll through the park and we arrive at Jurassic Park. The Flying Dinosaur ride literally flies over your heads creating the feeling that you are in fact actually at the real Jurassic Park. The Screams! Oh the Screams. With Beware of the Dinosaur signs surrounding you and the classic music we all know and love playing, its like stepping back in time.

There is so much to explore walking around the park it’s incredible. We had so much fun in-between the rides. We even popped in to see Water World. Having seen this in LA we knew it was a fantastic show and it did not disappoint. The stunts are spectacular and if you want to sit in the front few rows (which are marked as the wet zone) then be prepared to get wet, it’s all part of the fun!

 We finally reached The Wizarding World of Harry Potter! A highlight of the park for us every time.

We were transformed to Hogsmeade and were browsing the window displays of Ollivanders Wand Shop sipping on a Butter Beer from one of the wagons. Stop in at Honeydukes to stock up on Chocolate Frogs and Bertie Botts Every Flavour Beans. Don’t forget to visit Zonkos Joke and Toy Shop.  You can also stop by the Hogwarts Express and meet the Conductor.

Universal Studios Japan Wiseacres

If you have a wand you can cast spells at various locations in Hogsmeade and watch as the magic happens. There are regular performances from class mates from Hogwarts so keep an eye out for these.

With the Universal Studios Japan Express Pass you get given a designated time slot for Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey – this means that you can skip the line during your time slot and make the most of your time at Hogwarts and Hogsmeade. The ride is so magical and also a little scary at times (hello – Dementors!).

Universal Studios Japan Hogwarts Castle.JPG

You can walk through Hogwarts on a Castle Walk without needing to go on the ride too so that’s perfect if you have little ones. 

If you are a fan of Harry Potter then this is such a magical place, literally making your HP dreams come true. Take note that if the park is particularly busy then you may need to reserve a time slot to enter The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. We had a time slot but we didn’t need it as it wasn’t too busy. 

Next Up – JAWS! As part of the Express Pass you can choose to skip the line between JAWS, Terminator or Backdraft. We are fans of the JAWS franchise and walking into Amity Village it piqued our interest. The ride is pretty fun, you feel like you are in an actual Movie. Without giving away any secrets, be prepared to get wet!

For our last ride of the day we visited Minion Park. Anytime I think of Minions all I can hear in my head is either “Banana” or “Illumination!”. If you have ever wondered what it might feel like to be in an animation then this is the place. With the Express Pass you have access to Despicable Me Minion Mayhem at a specific time slot so you can skip the line and enjoy all the park has to offer. We very much enjoyed walking around Minion Park and seeing all the guests dressed up as Minions, it is clear there is a huge fanbase in Japan. 

In the evening they were offering two different shows – one at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter called Winter in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, from now until February 29th 2020 A magical story takes place this winter! The Hogawrts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry is full of Christmas cheer with a magical story unfolding at the Majestic Hogwarts castle.

New this year is the Universal Crystal Christmas and they have a night time show that lights up the Christmas night. Enjoy a moving story of love set in a beautiful and shimmering crystal world with all-new Christmas entertainment! From now until January 13th 2020. 

Universal Studios Japan Crystal Christmas

Final Review:

We love theme parks and we find that Universal Studios Japan is one of the best. Not only is it about visiting for the adrenaline of the rides but the atmosphere. The connection with the movies makes it even more special for me as you are constantly coming across something that is going to leave you in awe. Your senses are in overdrive. We particularly enjoyed having the Express Pass as it gave you more free time to explore the park. If you are planning on visiting Japan, then this will surely be a highlight for you. Get your tickets here.

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Thank you to Universal Studios Japan for having us, our tickets were gifted and as always all opinions are our own.

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The London Pass

The Best 1 Day London Itinerary with The London Pass

Phil and I enjoyed a wonderful London staycation when we came back from Tokyo. Relishing at the opportunity to visit all of the London sights in the build up to Christmas, we partnered with The London Pass to show you guys an incredible day sightseeing in London using the 1 Day Pass.

The London Pass London Eye

To start off our day of fun in London we made our way to Westminster Pier to enjoy a free Thames River Boat Cruise which is included in The London Pass. You just show your pass in the free app to the ticket booth and away you go.

For 24 hours you can Hop on and Hop off the famous river getting wonderful waterside views. We got on at Westminster Pier, checking out Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament first then passed the iconic London Eye. Sitting on the upper deck we enjoyed live commentary (very comedic at times) as we cruised along to our first stop -Tower Pier. Passing The Globe Theatre and seeing the oldest pub in London where Shakespeare used to get ready before his performances. Cruising under the Millennium Footbridge which was featured in the Harry Potter films and Cleopatras Needle, a 3,500 year old Egyptian Obelisk which was brought to London in 1878. There are so many interesting facts as you cruise along, making this an enjoyable and educational experience that is a world away from the hectic underground. Journeys range from 30 minutes to 3 hours depending on which route you take. If travelling in Winter as we did, make sure you wrap up warm as it gets chilly up on deck, where the best uninterrupted views are. If you want to keep warm there is a covered viewing deck downstairs with wide windows for viewing. 

We hopped off at Tower Pier where you are literally just a few steps from the entrance to the Tower of London. Included in The London Pass is access to the world-famous fortress and its tours and exhibitions. 

This was my first time visiting the Tower of London and getting to the view the Crown Jewels (I’ve wanted to see these for years).  They were so much more opulent than i had imagined. There are 20 Billion Pounds worth located here! The crown that Queen Elizabeth wore for her coronation was my favourite. You also get to see the armoury where they have the suit of armour that Henry VIII wore in battle. Discover the towers secrets and how it was a Palace, a Prison and a Zoo (there were once Polar Bears here). There are also 7 resident Ravens and the legend goes that if they ever leave the property then the tower will fall. Catch a free guided tour from one of the uniformed Beefeaters and explore where Queens were executed and imprisoned! You could honestly spend hours and hours here as it is just simply fascinating! 

Top Tip – visit the Crown Jewels first as they are the busiest attraction if you want to avoid the crowds.

You can view Tower Bridge from the top of the Medieval walls. It is located just around the corner from The Tower of London so is placed perfectly for our next stop, which is also included for free in The London Pass.

Tower Bridge

This iconic bridge is a must see when in London. With The London Pass you get skip the line entry to the 42 meter high glass floored walkway. Take photos of the red buses below and see the Shard in the distance. Be sure to take a few steps on the glass floor! 

Tower bridge was built to ease the congestion on London’s other bridges back in the times of horse and carts where some 175,000 people travelled across the bridge daily. It has the ability to raise its bridge to a full 90 degrees but only does so if a member of the royal family is passing by boat underneath….so keep an eye out next time it raises.

After Tower bridge we caught the underground  from London Bridge station to Oxford Street where we took a break to relax and indulge. 

Afternoon Tea 

A true British tradition! No trip to London would be complete without afternoon tea which used to be enjoyed by wealthy families in the 1840’s

There are now many versions of this classic tradition available – we like a champagne afternoon tea like the one hosted at Scoff and Banter in Oxford Street. With choices of hot dishes to start ( we have never experienced an afternoon tea with hot dishes before so this was lovely), flavoured scones, tempting sandwiches and delicious cakes complemented with a loose leaf tea of choice and a glass of Moët and Chandon, we felt like our day in London was complete. 

Following Afternoon Tea we took a walk down Regent Street, lit up at Christmas it is like nothing I’ve ever seen. The magical angels that float down the centre of the street, twinkling in the night sky is something that has to be seen in person. Ideally situated near our next activity.

The London Pass Regent Street

Hop on Hop Off Bus

The day is not over as The London Pass also allows you access on the Hop on Hop off buses for 24 hours. By this point it was sunset so the perfect opportunity to catch the bus and explore London lit up at night time. We pass Trafalgar Square and Covent Garden with live commentary on board. You are able to use a variety of companies including Big Bus, Gray Line and Golden Tours all offering a different selection of routes. We chose Golden Tours and experienced the Blue Route as it took us to our final destination of the day. 

Hopping off at London Bridge you are just a few minutes walk from The Shard. The perfect way to end your day in London. 

The View from The Shard

An iconic building that stands out amongst the London Skyline. The Shard which is an architectural wonder and home to the 5* Shangri-La Hotel. As London’s tallest building it is a wonderful opportunity to get a birds eye view of the city at the viewing platform which is 243m above ground. Enjoy a glass of Champagne and step outside on to the Sky Deck. You can even get floor to ceiling window views from the toilet. Schedule a trip at sunset to experience the day go to night and watch the city light up. There are three viewing floors and you get to experience the views for as long as you like. 

Check out The London Pass to get discounted sightseeing on over 80 attractions for your trip to London. You can get 1, 2, 3, 6 or 10 Day Passes.

N.B Afternoon Tea not included in The London Pass.

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Thank you to the London Pass for supplying our complementary 1 Day Passes. As always all of our opinions are our own.