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Old Jan 3, 13, 9:50 am   #1
 
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Seeking Tokyo wheelchair accessible hotel for family of four!!

I plan to visit Tokyo for a few days in early August of this year (2013) with my wife and two young kids (6yo and 7yo). I use a wheelchair permanently. although I am very independent.

I have spent some time rooting through the threads here and found very useful information about both wheelchair accessible hotels, and hotels that take a family. But what about if you want both? I suspect this is a doomed quest but if there is anyone out there who has any experience with this I would love to hear it!

I am resigned to spending a lot of money for accomodation so for the sake of argument assume price is no object (it always is but...) but location is important. We have only 2 or 3 days in Tokyo and I do not want to spend hours per day getting from our hotel to the city and back.

Thanks.
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Old Jan 3, 13, 12:05 pm   #2
 
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Welcome to Flyertalk.

According to JTB's website, the Prince Park Tower supposedly has "barrier free" rooms and connecting rooms. Whether it has "barrier free" connecting rooms, I don't know. Might be worth calling.

Actually, just looked at the Prince Park Tower website - That universal room looks like it might fit parents and a 6 & 7 year old ... Definitely worth asking. Scratch that. The beds are only 1.15m wide. Looked wider in the first photo. Still, worth asking about connecting rooms, I guess.

Failing that, LapLap might have some advice to offer.

BTW - August in Tokyo is stinkin' hot and humid.
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Old Jan 3, 13, 6:09 pm   #3
 
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You should call the hotel to check, but I think all of the recent hotels will have barrier free rooms, etc. The building regs are pretty strict in this respect.
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Old Jan 4, 13, 12:32 am   #4
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But you'll likely have to get two rooms. Connecting rooms are available in the better hotels. It would help us give more precise advice if we knew your budget.
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Old Jan 4, 13, 2:38 am   #5
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Hello WheelieFlyer, and welcome to FT
I've been absent from the forums for a while but one of our (lovelier) moderators pointed out your request to me.

Here's a similarish query focused on the Conrad and my response talks about one of the few genuinely wheelchair unfriendly areas in Tokyo that I've encountered (which alas is the area around the Conrad hotel).
http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/hilto...l#post17444571
You might like to contact jenpdx for her impressions.

As a wheelchair user I have stayed in 3 Tokyo Hotels, I used points for these stays and because of deals and promotions was fortunate to land them at Hostel rates.
These were:
Tokyo Intercontinental ANA Hotel, Roppongi
Sheraton Miyako Hotel, Shirokanedai
Strings Intercontinental, Shinagawa
Budget was of great concern to me, and never more so during this period of immobility.

First of all, I hope you're fit!
Wheelchair access in and around Tokyo is generally excellent.... However, to gain access to the access you will need to cover more ground and spend more time getting into and out of entrances and exits than able bodied folk. Then again, it isn't very much different than going around Tokyo with a large infant and a stroller - which I got to do for the first time last March.

Questions for now are - will your wheelchair fit in the boot of a taxi cab?
There are different taxi companies in Tokyo and different styles. I would imagine that, particularly when travelling as part of a family, you won't be able to use just any old taxi. Other regulars may be able to help with this potential question.

If using public transport - and there is no reason why you shouldn't - quite the contrary - the question us which lines to navigate. Some lines are genuinely a PITA, my own suggestion is to stay somewhere with easy access to the Yamanote line which 'circles' Tokyo by connecting many of the main hubs and district centres. There are a couple of exceptions with tricky access, but all stations are theoretically accessible with the majority of them proving very easy to navigate.

I've got a nursery run to do now, will post more a little later.
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Old Jan 4, 13, 5:58 am   #6
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Had a consultation with MrLapLap over this (by pushing me he has a better idea of what constitutes reasonable effort in regards to getting around in Tokyo).

Roppongi (i.e. the Tokyo ANA IC as well as the Grand Hyatt and others) is not a great area to navigate. Roads and pavements are difficult and the subway/metro is deep, deep underground and takes an age to access. It isn't impossible by any means but not an area we'd recommend to base yourself in.

Both the ANA IC Tokyo and, paricularly, the Sheraton Miyako were convenient for us as my father-in-law lives in Azabu Juban. Getting around Tokyo from either hotel wasn't nearly as straightforward as it was from:

Strings Intercontinental.

This hotel ticked all the boxes for us. However, options for a family here are pretty limited and there are no connecting rooms. Only way I could imagine it working would be to get a King bed corner room and request an extra bed for a child with the understanding that one of your kids would share the King bed with the adults.
The other thought to put in your head is an evacuation. A large earthquake may make the elevators inaccessible so getting down from or up to the hotel via the staircase is an eventuality that could happen. The Strings is pretty high up, views are good, this is definitely your call.

So... other options...
Shinagawa worked for us and I went back there last March with a 2 and a half year old. It took a while for her sleep patterns to adjust and she had a blast running riot in the adjacent Konan business district. No cars, lots of greenery, lots to explore, turned out to be a great place to have her exhaust herself in.
But you are planning on visiting in August so that's not a concern, the trick will be to NOT exhaust yourselves.

The Strings is VERY close to Shinagawa station. Other nearby stations aren't so close, so the two Takanawa Hotels (Grand Prince Hotel Takanawa and New Takanawa Prince hotel) that I often recommend here are not so ideal. What is a nice 20 minute stroll in the Spring or Winter could be quite gruelling in August, particularly as part of the route is uphill.

I still think the big question here is how you anticipate getting around.
What are your initial thoughts on this?
It will make a hotel recommendation much more meaningful
.
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Old Jan 4, 13, 11:14 am   #7
 
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Tokyo in August with 6 and 7 year-olds might put you in a wheelchair if you don't already need one.
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Old Jan 4, 13, 4:04 pm   #8
 
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http://accessible.jp.org/tokyo/en/hotels/index.html
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Old Jan 4, 13, 4:14 pm   #9
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Do please realise that the information is not complete and quite a lot of it is out of date.
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Old Jan 5, 13, 3:12 pm   #10
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The Four Seasons has a stay 2 nights/get 1 free offer for suites and a stay 3 nights/get 1 free offer for some rooms and suites. The offer is good until 8/31 - but availability is limited. You can play around with the website and see what availability you come up with. Note that some of the non-suite rooms are quite large. But - with 4 people - you'll probably want at least 1 1/2 baths (executive suite level or higher). Your cheapest rate for the cheapest room (and I think you'd need 2) would be a little under 39,000 yen a night with the "get one free" offer.

The Four Seasons is a very low hotel (I think rooms are on the 3rd through 6th floors of a large office building). So evacuating wouldn't be as much of a problem if the elevators weren't working as it might be in a taller building. Also - the hotel is very small and has a lot of staff that might be able to help you out in a pinch.

If you book through a Four Seasons Preferred Partner agent - you will get at least 2 adult breakfasts included (don't know what the story is with children - but - if you book 2 rooms - you will certainly get 4 breakfasts) - and a room upgrade if available.

You will have to contact the hotel directly to make arrangements (note that I don't know whether there are handicap accessible suites as opposed to rooms):

Families can be accommodated in suites and, in some cases, through connecting standard rooms – we recommend contacting the Hotel to make the best arrangements. Rooms and floors for non-smokers are available on request. Please contact the Hotel directly to make arrangements for wheelchair-accessible rooms.

FWIW - I was surprised to find out the FSM was voted the #1 family-friendly hotel in Tokyo on Tripadvisor (http://marunouchi.enewsletters.fours...-for-families/) - so I think it's definitely worth a look.

About the only downside of the hotel IMO is it doesn't have a pool. I don't know if that is important to you.

I also don't know what you want to see in Tokyo. So I can't comment on transportation to/from the hotel. I can say that the area around the hotel is reasonably flat - and that it's pretty close to Ginza and the Imperial Palace and subway stations (and next door to Tokyo Station). I think an area like Ginza will be useful in the afternoon because there are plenty of air-conditioned stores where you can cool off.

If I were in your situation - in a wheelchair - with 2 small children - in August (with the heat and humidity) - I would definitely consider booking at least 1 or 2 half day tours of Tokyo with a private car/driver/guide through the hotel. It's a splurge - but probably worth it if you can afford it. I am assuming that this is supposed to be a family vacation . Robyn
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Old Jan 5, 13, 4:50 pm   #11
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Having seen the stratospheric prices of day tours through JTB (Japan Tourist Board) I'd recommend contacting a company I have personally used and been delighted with - albeit for an airport transfer, not for a tour.

http://www.tokyoairporter.com/charter.html
If this an option you'd like to pursue definitely get in touch and get a quote.
The charming driver we had (a keen golfer based in Shinjuku who spent time in California) spoke English fluently and proved excellent company.

(The quote I was given by JTB for the cost of a tour of Tokyo in 2006 was 52,500yen for the cost of a guide, plus 42,000yen for the car hire + costs and parking. To go to Nikko it was another 40,000 or so yen. Even back then, with the Yen being low at the time compared to USD and GBP, this was very steep - I sent the guy from Yokohama to Kyoto by shinkansen for a taxi tour with Mr Doi as this was considerably cheaper)

Last edited by LapLap; Jan 6, 13 at 2:46 am.
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Old Jan 7, 13, 9:21 am   #12
 
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Firstly - thanks to all who have replied. It never ceases to amaze me how much information is on these forums (fori?). Very helpful, and plenty to think about.

In response to some particular points:

Getting around:
My chair is a light-weight rigid type, wheels pop off and back folds down to make a fairly compact "box". In western cities there is never any problem fitting it in the boot (trunk) of a taxi and we managed it in HK 12 years ago also. With the exception of the airport transfers (where the extra luggage may create a problem) I am hoping that taxi is a viable option. I am willing to try the public transport also. The point about having to walk miles for the accessible entrances and so on is not unique to Tokyo and I'm hoping that with a bit of planning it will be possible. I am fairly fit, but I have to admit that high heat and humidity will knock me out very quickly!

Accomodation:
Places like IC Strings and Four Seasons would be within budget. The difficulty is that there is no co-relation between size of room and accessibility (often a large room is inaccessible because the bathroom door is too narrow for example). I am resigned to spending a few days calling these places, but want to develop a short-list based on likelihood of having suitable rooms, and location.

What to do:
We have only two days so I think immersing ourselves in one to four things would be better than running around like lunatics. The Meiji shrine would be on the list, but I haven't figured out the rest. Mrs. WheelieFlyer wants to sample lot (and lots) of good food. And for the kids - I just want them to experience a different culture so they see the world is not one big homogenous place.

Thank you all for your suggestions and ideas.
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Old Jan 7, 13, 10:10 am   #13
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WheelieFlyer View Post
forums (fori?).
Fora. (Think medium, datum, rostrum, etc.) But I prefer forums. (Hint - If someone asks you for a latin plural, decline).
Quote:
Originally Posted by WheelieFlyer View Post
In western cities there is never any problem fitting it in the boot (trunk) of a taxi and we managed it in HK 12 years ago also.
The challenge with some (most) taxis in Tokyo is that the trunk (boot) is mostly occupied with an LPG cylinder. I would recommend that you get a mobile phone that works in Japan and keep the numbers for Nippon Kotsu (English language line) and MK Taxi on speed dial. If you're in a spot where you just can't get your chair in a car, call them up and have them send a large, boxy vehicle.
Quote:
Originally Posted by WheelieFlyer View Post
a short-list based on likelihood of having suitable rooms, and location.
The hotels that people have cited in this thread (especially those mentioned by LapLap) are obviously a good place to start. There are other lists of hotels for wheelchair users. But they all seem so iffy. Here's one with my comments:

http://www.fukushi-shiga.net/hotel/tokyo/index.htm

Palace Hotel - Central (near palace). Very new. Worth Calling.

Hotel Nikko Tokyo - Awful location IMHO. (Odaiba). Big resort hotel. Meh.

Hotel Intercontinental Tokyo Bay - Awful location IMHO.

Hotel Okura - A "grand old dame" of Tokyo hotels. Great service. Hard to believe it's all that wheelchair friendly. Worth calling for a discussion ...

Shinagawa Prince - Already dismissed by LapLap (see above)

Royal Park Hotel - Location in list is awful. Try the Royal Park Shiodome Tower. It's a new tower. Should have barrier free access ...

Hankyu Hotel Tsukiji - Never heard of it.

Tokyo Kani Hoken Kaikan Yuport - Seems institutional. Avoid like the plague.

Kodomo no shiro - Ditto

Shibuya City Hotel - Never heard of it

Westin Hotel Tokyo - Location quite a long walk from station on West side of town but a very nice hotel. Worth calling.

Hilton Tokyo - Location to the West of Shinjuku. Worth calling.

Keio Plaza Hotel - Often cited in lists of barrier free and family friendly hotels. Not my fave, but ... Worth calling

Barrier Free Pension Subaruu - On a remote island. In Tokyo metropolitan area but not in the city. Ignore.

BTW - I looked at a few sites and didn't see Four Seasons listed on any list of barrier free / universal design hotels. Still, it won't hurt to call them. You will certainly be able to speak with someone who speaks excellent English - and that person might well recommend other places.


Quote:
Originally Posted by WheelieFlyer View Post
What to do:
Since you've only listed one place, are you sure it's Tokyo you want to visit? I happen to think Tokyo is awesome, but there's more to Japan than Tokyo.


EDIT - Some interesting videos (all Japanese) on barrier free access to Tokyo hotels and attractions here:
http://www.t-bftc.org/modelcourse.html#prettyPhoto

Model course (in Japanese) here:
http://www.t-bftc.org/data/flyer01.pdf
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Last edited by jib71; Jan 7, 13 at 10:46 am.
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Old Jan 7, 13, 12:26 pm   #14
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jib71 View Post
Since you've only listed one place, are you sure it's Tokyo you want to visit? I happen to think Tokyo is awesome, but there's more to Japan than Tokyo.
- Point taken, actually I have a list of possibles but want to keep focussed here on where to stay (I know the two are inter-related of course, but I suspect my hotel options are very limited so in the end will dictate a lot). I know that there is more to Japan than Tokyo but with only a couple days (and a wife who has always wanted to see Tokyo) then Tokyo it shall be. We can always go back once we have "broken the ice".

Your list is extremely helpful - thank you for taking the time on this. I now need to sit down with a map and a telephone and figure out the best options.

Also, your point about LPG tanks in the trunk is good to know. Hadn't thought of that.
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Old Jan 7, 13, 12:36 pm   #15
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Jib71 has offered some very good advice about the taxis.
Here is a photo of me at Komagome station and, as you can see, the rudimentary wheelchair is definitely on the small side
http://bp3.blogger.com/_n1sjt7SfiAw/...escalator3.jpg
This was too big for most taxis, even without luggage, we found a couple who would place it on the front passenger seat but this wouldn't be possible with four of you travelling together.

Rather than going for the top, expensive range of hotels and going for easy (or easier) public transport options, perhaps it would be best to go somewhere more modest and relying on arranged taxis to get around.
What really struck me at the Sheraton Miyako on my lat visit was how many guests in wheelchairs were staying there. We were upgraded to one of the larger standard rooms and this seemed ideal for a family, the downside was the bathroom which would not be easy to use. As the sofa bed option can't be found anymore (may be worth asking though) connecting rooms might be an option. Whether the accessible rooms connect to another, i don't know.
The surrounding areas are accessible, much more so than an area like Roppongi, and the optional pedestrian bridges all have elevators. It's quiet, residential, play parks nearby, and the Yamanote line is a cheap taxi ride away - there's a complimentary shuttle, but I don't know how accessible it is, I was able to walk a little bit which helped with lots of potential hurdles. The surrounding Japanese gardens are lovely, hopefully your kids will enjoy the, but do take mosquito repellant, I was here one October and was savaged, but mozzies LOVE me, much more than is usual.

When comparing this hotel to most on those depressing 'accessible hotels' lists, the Sheraton Miyako seems more appealing than I'd thought. The downside is the distance to Meguro JR station, but this is surmountable. Tokyo has a lot to offer kids, spending less on the accommodation means more money for the kind of experiences they will really enjoy (I doubt they get enthusiastic about a high thread count in Egyptian cotton sheets and upscale toiletries)

Do also enquire about accessible rooms at the Sakura Prince, Takanawa and New Takanawa Prince hotels and factor in a short taxi trip to and from Shinagawa station. All hotels are close together and are in gorgeous grounds you can partly and your kids fully enjoy which will make a lovely respite in the summer. IMO these hotels have proven to offer time and time again good value for money, not quite as swanky as a Hyatt or the Strings but the law of diminishing returns starts to set in after the upgrade from a dreary business hotel to a Premium room at the New Takanawa... you need to start spending serious money to get anything better, and then you get other problems like the way the carpets at the ANA Tokyo IC twist your wheels towards the left as you try to urge your wheelchair onwards through the corridors.
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