The Sad Demise of Free Hotel Shuttles

It’s no secret that many hotels have used the pandemic to take shortcuts wherever they can, but one item that has been scrapped is particularly annoying, namely free shuttles.

Previously, some hotels operated shuttles between their locations in major metropolitan areas and downtown, but this quickly stopped during Covid, and then it just never came back.

Why hotels offer shuttles to begin with largely depends on the location of the property, for example, airport hotels pretty much have to provide a shuttle to the terminal and there are hardly any way around it. Although some airport properties get cheeky and just tell their customers to get a cab or Uber, offering nothing.

Then there are the hotels that are a little on the outskirts of the city center but still want to attract travelers so a shuttle is offered to maintain a transport link as it was previously with the Hilton Rome Airport.

The Hilton Rome Airport has also discontinued its shuttle to the city center, as I was informed by email a few days before my stay. I then canceled my stay and opted for a hotel in town instead.

This week I arrived in Tokyo and stayed at three hotels that previously operated shuttles between Shinjuku Station and hotels around Nishi Shinjuku:

  • Hilton Tokyo – Shuttle Operation Suspended
  • Hyatt Regency Tokyo – Shuttle Operation Suspended
  • Park Hyatt Tokyo – The shuttle only operates on weekends and holidays

The Park Hyatt has a lot of traffic from local guests

Meanwhile, the daily rate at these hotels has risen to pre-Covid levels or even higher to make up for previously lost revenue.

Here is the review on the Hyatt Regency Tokyo website:

The shuttle has always been a very useful feature when staying at the Hilton or Hyatt Regency. I asked both hotels if there was a plan to bring buses back as Japan reopens its borders on Tuesday, but the response was that at this time no final decision has been made.


Sadly, many hotels took the red pen to their shuttle services and cut those in the name of Covid, but even after the pandemic was over, the properties never brought the shuttles back into service. Couple this with all the other discounts and high prices regardless, it makes a question if this is all done in good faith.

Especially the shuttles in Tokyo have always been very helpful and without them it makes almost no sense to stay at an expensive international brand property. You can get a local brand hotel for half or less. Maybe we’re lucky and hotels will eventually bring the transport shuttles back into service, but for now it seems that the disappearance of these buses is a sad reality that we have to face.

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