If you’re looking for a hostel that genuinely encapsulates the quirky, lively feel of Osaka with a kooky vintage twist in a brilliant location for relatively low cost, Meruhen is an incredible deal.
I booked all our accommodation via AirBnb, which was a great system with relatively straightforward process. Definitely recommend you have a look there first, before looking for traditional hostels/hotels.
The location is the jewel of this hostel. Situated in the middle of Namba, it’s a perfect after-dinner strolling distance back from Dotonbori, Namba Parks and Ebisu-bashi, and a five minute walk to the train station will let you get almost anywhere in Osaka very easily and saved us a lot in transport costs.
There's a convenience store (コンビニ) about three minutes away, which is always vital, and heaps of small yakitori bars and grills and a chemist too.
Yoshi was very accommodating on AirBnb, quick to respond and provided detailed, step-by-step instructions on getting to the hotel, complete with photos, which was a huge help.
The hostel itself is very small but it does have an adorable, tiny elevator so, as long as your luggage can fit inside, you’re all good. The samurai greets you at the door. The check-in process was simple and quick, which was appreciated as we got there around 10pm.
Room 203 was full of incredible, quirky details, from the traditional Japanese lamps to multi-coloured tiles and hiragana-covered wallpaper. A hot water kettle, TV, fan, fridge and Wifi are provided, as well as simple toiletries like toothbrushes.
We managed to squeeze four people into a room, but it’s definitely more comfortably built for three or even two, if you want a very comfortable stay. We didn’t get to meet Yoshi but Yoshi’s father and the lady at the reception were very pleasant and helpful. We also got to store our suitcases after checking out at Meruhen in order to explore Namba Parks before departing for Kyoto, which was much appreciated.
Some of the surfaces were a little dusty, but nothing too bad. The fridge(?) has a tendency to hum loudly in regular intervals, which is bad if you’re a light sleeper. It kept me awake for awhile the first night, but if you sleep on the bed on the other side of the room, you can’t really hear it.
The windows are covered by sliding wooden panels which we didn’t really open, so you can really lose a sense of time. I believe you can open them if you wish.
The toilet and shower are on the older side and may be new to people used to Western style facilities. The toilet is a squat toilet, but low enough so that you’re pretty much sitting down on the raised step. It was very clean and I had no problem with it.
The shower room is tiled and quite old so some tiles are missing, but they're multi-coloured and quite beautiful in that quirky, vintage way. Shampoo, conditioner and bodywash are provided. None of us tried to use the お風呂 (bath) but you can give yourself a brisk shower easily enough.
Meruhen was definitely an incredible accommodation find and makes me want to go back to Osaka to explore the city a little more thoroughly.