Although Tokyo has exited the list of the planet’s most expensive cities, it can still be quite a challenge to find lodgings that are affordable – especially if you’re visiting from overseas on a budget of sorts – but also cool enough to make your stay a truly memorable one. Well, here’s where UDS comes into the picture. Based in the Japanese capital, it’s a multi-faceted urban development company with commercial, residential and hospitality projects, and it’s the latter category that has been getting quite a lot of attention abroad. Anyone with the slightest sense of design and heading this way must have considered staying at the CLASKA, one of its acclaimed previous projects.
Anticipating the steep rise of overseas visitors – mind you, it’s expected a large number will be flash packers and other discerning budget globetrotters – UDS has teamed up with Space Design, another Japanese developer, to open a design-led budget hostel in Asakusa, one of the capital’s oldest neighbourhoods. Called Bunka hostel, it’s situated on two floors of a redeveloped office building from the 1980s. The interior design is a collab with artist Hiroko Takahashi, renowned for her striking kimono designs and also an expert in local crafts, and takes subtle cues from traditional Japanese design.
But still, the various settings look distinctly contemporary, meeting all the modern requirements that today’s savvy travellers expect to find. The spacious and clean ground floor combines the lobby and an Izakaya-style café, featuring plenty of seating where both hostel guests and neighbourhood denizens can mingle and relax. Interestingly, Takahashi has aimed to soften the angular proportions of the building by applying rows of circles on the floor, a symbol of not only nature and its many cycles, but it should also represent modern connectivity. Bunka hostel features 128 specially designed bunk beds, spread over seven floors and a four appealing types of rooms.
These lodgings range from single mixed dorm rooms, and mixed dorm rooms, to family rooms and even an entire floor exclusively available for female guests. The aesthetic of these dorm rooms intentionally mimic alleyways in old japan and each includes a communal kitchen, bathroom and laundry room. And yes, Wifi is free here! complementing the ultimate japan experience at Bunka hostel is a concise range of beautifully crafted souvenirs, all designed by Takahashi for the property.