The 40-sq m designer apartment is a cosy, well-equipped home in Ginza.
A cute teddy bear gives a warm human touch to the rental.
A divider that separates the sleeping and living areas.

An Airbnb rental offers Zalina Mohd Som the cosy feeling of home

TO be frank, I am a person of habit. Though I don’t really have problems trying out new things, I do have some reservations; staying in an Airbnb rental is one.

I have heard so much about Airbnb, including the fact that it is much cheaper than a hotel, that it’s comfortable and homely, convenient and value for money.

So, I signed up as a guest and started looking for a rental for one person near Tsukiji Market, simply because I’ve been wanting to view its world-famous tuna auction which takes place as early as 4am.

There’re a long list of rentals that fit my preferences. One that caught my attention was labelled Cozy&Quiet Apartment/ GINZA*TSUKIJI, hosted by husband and wife, Hide and Marie.

Once I had confirmed my booking, my host sent me a standard welcome email, followed by emails that contained directions to the apartment, how and where to get the key and how to open the door to the unit (yes, seriously!).

But I was reminded to tell the neighbours that I am a friend of the couple should they ask. That made me worry.


MY GINZA HOME

The day of my Tokyo trip finally arrives. I don’t have much of a problem looking for the apartment block. With my Visondata Pocket WiFi, Google Map leads me to the block from where the Airport Limo bus has dropped me.

I retrieve the house key from the mailbox. In a pdf file Hide and Marie sent earlier, there are comprehensive instructions on how to open the mailbox and use the key to enter the lift lobby and eventually open the door to my rental.

But it doesn’t tell me how complicated the key is. Well, at least, it is quite unusual compared with the typical key.

I turn the dial (and no, it’s not a typical knob!) as instructed but the door remains locked. I try many times. All fail. Sweat starts to trickle down my back. A headache, airplane ears and a full bladder make it worse.

Just before my blood pressure starts to shoot up further, I hear a ding from the elevator. Ahh, someone is getting off at this floor.

Putting on my sweetest smile, I wait for the elevator door to open and welcome the passenger with a distress plea. And I have totally forgotten about my host’s reminder about the neighbours!

The neighbour, a young woman in her 20s, nods to my request and takes the key from my hand. She inserts the key card into the slot, turns the dial and pulls open the door. All in a jiffy! I almost give her a tight hug but my sweat-soaked shirt stops me. Instead, I give her a long bow.

Once inside, I go straight to the loo conveniently located next to the door. Relieved, I enter the main area of the apartment.

The sight of spacious, well-designed apartment soothes my apprehensions of staying in an Airbnb rental. Its wooden flooring adds warmth and a homely feeling to the chic, minimal setting typical of a modern Japanese home.

It has all I need in a home - a queensize bed, a TV, a long sofa with a matching table that can double up as a dining table, a well-equipped kitchen (with coffee and tea too), a washing machine and a superb bathroom that also doubles as a laundry room.

This is not a hotel that comes with daily housekeeping, fresh towels and bedsheets and buffet breakfast.

This is home, even though it’s only for the duration of my stay in Tokyo.

And I look forward to that warm feeling of home at the end of the day for the next five days!


FAST FACTS

COZY & QUIET APARTMENT/ GINZAT*SUKIJI

Chuo-ku, Tokyo, Japan Website: www.airbnb.com.sg STAY A cosy, more-than-basic studio apartment that feels at home. Like a typical home for Tokyo yuppies, the 40-sq m apartment is complete with easy-to-use home appliances.

EAT Since it’s just a walking distance to the iconic Tsukiji Market, there are a lot of shushi restaurants in the vicinity. For some quick bites, a Family Mart store is just opposite the building. But if you want homecooked meals, the kitchen is well-equipped with a hot-plate stove and fridge.

DO Don’t stay indoors. Go out and explore the neighbourhood on foot. Ginza and Tsukiji Market are less than five minutes away.

GO The rental is near to a couple of stations - the Tsukiji Station (only two minutes away) and Higashi Ginza Station (five minutes). This makes it an ideal base to explore the city.

Get ready to train-hop and walk to Asakusa and Roppongi (15 minutes of walking and train ride), Akihabara (12 minutes), Shinjuku (24 minutes) and Tokyo Disneyland (40 minutes). It is also only 90 minutes by train from Narita Airport and 25 minutes from Haneda Airport.

HIGHS Super cosy, well-equipped home and great location.

LOWS Almost flawless but there’s no English channel on TV.

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