So last night, there we were in Tokyo having an aged beef steak degustation dinner with old friends from Manila, catching up on news and living a #Travelife.
Just like about 50 other friends and relatives, they're here for the Holy Week break. I hadn't seen them in a very long time so there was lots of news to catch up on.
In another lifetime, though, when we all weren't very busy, we'd had many memorable meals in Tokyo and they'd even come over to Japan to stay with us at our lake house in Mount Fuji.
I'd even met up with them in San Francisco many years ago. They'd come over to the lobby of my hotel, Campton Place, and then we'd gone for a seafood lunch and an afternoon of serious shopping.
NO HOTELS AVAILABLE IN OSAKA.
ALL HOTELS ARE FULLY BOOKED.
Last night, they said: "The last time we were in Japan, we flew to Osaka and we had to stay in a love hotel because we'd left the hotel reservations until the last minute and there were no more hotels available. And we really wanted to get away and go to Japan."
I almost fell off my seat, and I'm sure I dropped my fork, when they said this -- especially as they said they'd stayed five nights. I'd never heard of anyone staying in a love hotel because all the other normal hotels are booked.
However, now that I think about it, it certainly is a clever idea to stay in a love hotel if you've run out of hotel options.
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THE LOVE HOTEL EXPERIENCE
"What was it like?" I asked.
The wife said: "The room of the love hotel was big -- way bigger than a regular hotel room. I think we had 35 square meters."
I then asked: "Did it even have a window? Could you see the outside world?"
LOVE HOTELS ALONG THE TOMEI EXPRESSWAY
TO GOTEMBA AND MOUNT FUJI
When I drive down the highway out of Tokyo towards Mount Fuji, I see love hotels along the highway on the peripheries of big cities like Odawara or Gotemba.
But these love hotels never seem to have any windows or else they have windows that are boarded up and painted the same color as the outside walls of the building. This is how I know, even from afar driving along the highway, that these are not "regular" hotels.
The husband said: "Our room actually had a small window. But the most interesting thing was a small cabinet in the room. When I opened it, all there was was a steel tray. I thought it was a place to put valuables in although it didn't have a lock. Guess what it was?"
I was on the edge of my seat.
He continued: "That was where they put our food. We never saw anyone in the hotel so all communication with the hotel was via this steel cabinet. When breakfast was ready, we would hear a little bell and open the cabinet, and our breakfast would be on it."
WHAT A LOVE HOTEL LOOKS LIKE
Then I asked: "How was the decor of the love hotel?"
I once saw an article in a Japanese magazine on love hotels, and they had the most amazing themes and designs. Think Balinese beach or Greek islands. Or even a Star Wars theme. But this was years ago.
The wife added: "It was actually simple, so it looked like a regular room. Except it had a water bed."
THE PRICES AT A LOVE HOTEL
I burst out laughing. But I had to add: "Well, at least you saved a bundle of money, staying for five nights at a love hotel instead of at a regular hotel."
The husband replied: "It wasn't cheap at all. We paid something like US$300 a night."
I said: "US$300? You probably got the love hotel equivalent of a presidential suite."
Living a #Travelife, I might add.