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Walking into Shinjuku Ni-chome's women-only Motel #203 is like arriving a little late to a high-school prom's illegitimate after party. Red balloons float near the ceiling, and a small disco ball slowly spins in the center of the room. Warm laughter, and Michael Jackson’s ‘Billie Jean’ waft to the entrance as congenial owner Chiga, greets customers, promptly suggesting the all-you-can-drink champagne special. Every Friday, for ¥3000, customers help themselves to a variety of bubblies chilling in ice buckets in the alcove near the bar. Lipsticked prom queens and quarterback butches mingle, while grazing on complimentary fruit platters of pineapple, grapes, and strawberries. Attractive, tuxedo-clad female bartenders readily refresh customers' drinks and free popcorn, while the manager, Hiroko, shoots the breeze with anyone lending an ear.
Motel #203 is a great place to head when you want to make a couple of new friends, and don't feel like shouting over loud house music. Customers and staff are friendly and approachable, and the mood is relaxed. The bar is a bit small, however, and seating is quite limited, so if your girlfriends come along your best bet is to snag a sofa in the lower lounge by 10pm. Also, food here is limited to drinking snacks and popcorn, so hit up your favorite restaurant or izakaya on the way. On regular nights, the first drink at Motel #203 is 1000 yen, with every drink after that starting at 700 yen. Thankfully, the bar (complete with a bilingual menu) is well-stocked with gins, whiskeys and vodkas, unlike some other small bars in the area carrying only beer and shochu. After ordering a drink, step into the subdued lower lounge where twenty and thirty-somethings, including a handful of non-Japanese, sink comfortably into black leather sofas. A large plasma TV plays music videos, but no one is paying attention. The champagne is kicking in, and the party, sans chaperones, is just getting started.
Bar Motel #203 is women only, except for Thursdays. Check the bar's website for other drink specials and DJ information.
By: Natasha Fox
Sunny Corpo 203, Shinjuku 2-7-2, Shinjuku-ku