When it was time to make our way to Japan, we were really excited. Still, I was a little nervous about taking Hayley because the hotel rooms in Asia tend to be a lot smaller than they are in North America. It took a leap of faith, and I’m so glad we went! There are several official hotels located at Universal Studios Japan in Osaka, but we chose the Universal Port Hotel. My daughter and I had an absolutely incredible experience, despite our travel anxiety! It helps that everything about Japan makes us feel so much calmer and at peace.
Watch our video tour: Universal Port Hotel Review
In this review, we’ll share the things we loved best about the Universal Port Hotel. We’d definitely go back and stay again (in fact, we’re planning to). It was just so convenient and everything that we could ask for in a theme park hotel. We even had a great (affordable) meal!
Close to Universal Studios Japan
While there are several other hotels that are slightly closer to the gate, Universal Studios Japan was just a short five-minute walk from the Universal Port Hotel. When we were trying to decide where to stay, this one definitely stood out! Yes, the rates are a bit more reasonable, but we just liked the look of it from the pictures. We had no regrets!
Just look at the view from our room! When we woke up that first morning and could see them starting to run the Hollywood Dream roller coaster (which was on our bucket list!), we started squealing. It was hard to believe that months of planning were finally coming true!
Plus, our Harry Potter hearts were bursting with joy at the sight of Hogwarts castle at Wizarding World of Harry Potter! Sure, we’d been at Universal Studios Hollywood just a few days earlier, but we knew seeing it in Japan was going to be a truly unique experience. Sigh…take us back right now!
Easy Access to CityWalk and Train Station
Unless you rent a car or take a shuttle, you’ll probably arrive at the Universal Port Hotel by train. Personally, we think traveling by train in Japan is the best way to get around! The Universal City Station exits right into the Universal Studios Japan CityWalk (watch our park review!). From there, it’s just a quick two minute stroll to the hotel (or park!).
We loved how easy it was to access the train, and with the CityWalk right across the street from the hotel, we had endless options for food, drink and supplies. We absolutely loved McDonald’s in Japan, but we also really enjoyed eating at convenience stores. An American Jumbo Dog is a super cheap but delicious snack after a day at a theme park and there are a few stores right there in CityWalk!
For a more “budget” property, the Universal Port Hotel really is well appointed and has a lot to offer. Plus, even though it’s close to CityWalk and the train station, it’s slightly removed from the chaos. That few extra steps allowed us to leave the theme park frenzy behind so we could regroup.
Universal Port Hotel Restaurant and Gift Shop
You’ll find a couple dining options at the Universal Port Hotel, but we only tried the Rex Café. After walking through it a few times, we finally decided to sit down and try it. Located adjacent to the Universal Studios Store in the lobby, it had many affordable options which was perfect for a night when we wanted to eat and head straight to bed.
After returning to the hotel following a day trip to Kyoto, we stopped in and tried the ramen, fried rice and okonomiyaki. As far as hotel fare goes, it was pretty good (especially the fried rice). The prices were really reasonable and we liked knowing we had decent food nearby.
The gift shop was a good size and even had a room devoted entirely to dinosaurs! Along with a wide variety of items associated with Universal Studios, we were happy to find some local Japanese goods, as well. We also appreciated that they had a great selection of personal care items, ranging from face masks to allergy medication.
We love the Minions (okay, I’m the huge fan in our household!) and it was so much fun to be surrounded by them during our stay. While it was bright and playful, the hotel décor was also very tasteful and elegant. A friend of mine said that she’d be creeped out, but it really wasn’t over the top. The inside of the elevator was a bit much — but we liked it!
The coolest thing is that the Universal Port Hotel really pulled off the Minions theme in a way that works for guests of all ages. Kids weren’t the only ones posing for pictures. I know I took a few myself! We were really surprised to see older guests fully dressed up in Minion colors and even costumes! The Japanese really know how to have fun!
The lobby is absolutely gorgeous. After trekking all the way from Idaho — with some travel bumps along the way (we flew United Premium Plus, at least!) — it was a wonderful way to settle in. The lobby features high ceilings, full-length windows and was incredibly welcoming. With very professional and accommodating staff, the check-in process was quick and they didn’t require a credit card to secure a deposit on the room. We LOVE that!
While no one was fluent in English, they made every effort to communicate and answer any questions we had. We felt completely at home and every time we returned to the hotel, someone was waiting to greet us. Every. Single. Time! Again, this is a “budget” property, but we were treated like five-star guests. Amazing!
Guest Rooms at the Universal Port Hotel
There are some Minion-themed rooms, but we chose to stay in a standard guest room instead. Yes, it was smaller than a traditional North American hotel room, but it was spacious by Japanese standards. There wasn’t much space for storage, though, so we had live out of our suitcases for the duration of our stay. Actually, we use packing cubes and it made it easy to keep track of everything we needed.
We had two twin beds, which was perfect for me and my daughter. I’m not sure how it would have gone if Josh had been with us, though! When we go back, we’ll probably need to get the room with three beds instead. We’ll see!
When we checked in, we noticed two pairs of slippers waiting for us. After running through five airports in the preceding 48 hours, we were eager to get comfortable. Like us at home, the Japanese prefer that people not walk around with their shoes on. Even when we stayed at The Knot Shinjuku, a tiny boutique hotel in Tokyo, we were given slippers. It really helps us with our germaphobia because walking on carpets is a huge trigger for my OCD.
Related post: The Ultimate Germaphobe’s Guide to Hotel Stays
As previously mentioned, we had a fantastic view of Universal Studios Japan and City Walk. The window took up one whole wall of the room! There was also large flat-screen television, but we never even turned it on. We were too busy exploring!
The bathroom was wonderful and very traditionally Japanese. Toiletries, including razors and hair brushes, were provided and the soap, body wash and shampoo were in reusable pumps. The toilet featured heated seats and a bidet, and the shower was magnificent (we didn’t use the bathtub, though!).
There was an electronic panel on the wall where the room keys were stored. Guests can choose whether they want to be left alone or if they want their room cleaned up at the touch of a button. So easy and efficient without having to remember to hang something on the door!
We thoroughly enjoyed our stay at the Universal Port Hotel and would highly recommend it to anyone visiting the area, even if you’re not going to Universal Studios Japan. The affordable rates, nearby shopping and restaurants, as well as the proximity to the train station make this a no-brainer. It took about 15 minutes to get to the Dotonbori area and we liked not staying in the middle of the downtown craziness.
It’s also a great option for those who want more of a “Western” style hotel room. We love so much about the traditions and culture of Japan, but with our travel anxiety, we prefer to keep certain things familiar. Accommodations are very high on that list. Of the places we’ve stayed in Japan, this is our favorite.
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