Here's the hotel (Photo: Peter Sidell)

Smile Hotel Shiogama

Stay near the bay at a cheap'n'cheerful business hotel

Here's the hotel (Photo: Peter Sidell)
Peter Sidell   - 3 min read

Planning a visit to Sendai one summer, I decided I'd like a break from the downtown bustle, so that I could explore Matsushima and its scenic bay at my leisure, without having to worry about trains back to the city. None of the accommodation options in town really appealed, but in nearby Shiogama I found Smile Hotel, a business hotel of the kind that suits me down to the ground.

It's a clean and modern place, with a simple aesthetic, lots of earthtones and soothing plain colours. There are facilities in the hotel to meet your needs; vending machines for soft drinks and beer, a laundry room with coin-operated washing machines and dryers, even a business center, though I didn't see it so can't say what there is.

Here's the hotel
Here's the hotel

My single room was typically boxy, with enough space for a solo traveler with little luggage, fairly plain with just the one little print on the wall. My facilities were present and correct - TV, fridge, kettle, large bright lamp - and I made good use of both the LAN internet and the Wi-Fi. The bed was firm and comfortable so I could get a decent night's sleep after a day out having at the sights.

The main attraction in Shiogama is its impressive shrine, about 15 minutes' walk away on the other side of the railway line. It's also not far to Marine Gate, a port complex where you can take a cruise on Matsushima bay, buy souvenirs, or enjoy mouth-wateringly fresh sushi.

Matsushima Bay
Matsushima Bay

Also nearby are a selection of restaurants and bars, and there are a couple of supermarkets within walking distance. The hotel offers a buffet breakfast for an extra charge; I didn't try it, but if it matches those at other Smile Hotels I've stayed at then it'll be decent value.

Getting there

It's a few minutes' walk from Nishi-Shiogama station, a little further from Hon-Shiogama station, both around 25-30 minutes from Sendai on the JR Senseki line. Check in is at 3:00pm, check out at 10:00am.

There are single, semi-double, double and twin rooms available. Rates will very with the room type and season, but it's unlikely you'll pay more than JPY4000-5000 a head.

Peter Sidell

Peter Sidell @peter.sidell

I came to Japan from Manchester, England in 2003, and have travelled a lot since then, around Japan and in Asia. When I'm not working, I write satire and perform stand-up comedy in and around Tokyo. Check YouTube for a taste.