Japan Travel Guide
Hotel Openings / Hotel News / Ritz-Carlton Hotels / Ritz-Carlton Reserve Hotels / Luxury Hotels / Japan Hotels / Kyoto Hotels / → All Tags
When we looked at the Ritz-Carlton Okinawa last October, we mentioned that a fourth Japanese property was in the works in Kyoto, the country’s former imperial capital and home to no less than 17 UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Now, the Ritz-Carlton Kyoto is confirmed as opening on February 7, 2014, alongside a host of other new hotels being announced. We’ll give you a breakdown of what’s happening below.
Billed as an urban resort, the Ritz-Carlton Kyoto will have 136 rooms on the banks of the Kamogawa River, with views of the Higashiyama Mountains. Traditional Meiji house and courtyard architecture is incorporated into the building’s structure, and the hotel will have four dining options, as well as meeting facilities and a spa.
Design Hotels opened their second member hotel in Tokyo (the first is the Park Hotel Tokyo) in August: The Gate Hotel Kaminarimon. We’re excited about this. Why, you may ask? Well, it’s a given that it's a sleek and 'purty' hotel with some great design features, but also because it's located on the edge of one of the city’s oldest heritage districts known as Asakusa, and the thriving, dizzying modern metropolis.
On one side you have the Kaminarimon entrance gate (Thunder Gate), which stands approximately 38 feet high by 38 feet wide, and, on the opposite end of the scale, there’s the Tokyo Skytree, the tallest freestanding broadcast tower in the world at 2,080 feet.
To make the most of this amazing view, the hotel has its minimalist lobby on the 13th floor (we hope none of you are toooo superstitious). There is also a 14th-floor terrace that’s open 24/7 to take in the scene.
If you equate urinal cakes, public parks, and the sound of toilets flushing with the pinnacle of luxury, then, boy, does Japan have a hotel for you.
Artist Tatsu Nishi (the same man who recently created a living room in the middle of New York's Columbus Circle) has built a one-room hotel inside a public toilet in Osaka's Nakanoshima Park. He's calling it "Nakanoshima Hotel." And before you go thinking it's just some fanciful, high-concept, bunch of art baloney, keep in mind that this is an actual hotel that costs 10,000 yen ($125) per night, and includes a proper bed, shower, and separate bathroom for hotel guests.
There's even a desk! Because, after all, everybody does their best thinking in the bathroom.
It’s a year of anniversaries for The Ritz-Carlton in Japan: the group’s first hotel opened 15 years ago in Osaka, and five years ago Tokyo was added to the list. Just as celebrations are happening to mark both occasions, the urbanites that love these two city hotels have an alternative when looking for a weekend escape,The Ritz-Carlton, Okinawa, which opened this past Spring.
Okinawa prefecture consists of hundreds of the Ryuku islands, which stretch over an area of 620 miles south of Japan’s main islands all the way to Taiwan. Part of the Kise country club, The Ritz-Carlton raises the bar for luxury on Okinawa Island, adding a chance to play golf and hit up the spa to the area’s beaches and diving options.
Final stop after the stretch
Sunrise yoga. Noontime meditation. Rush hour water aerobics. Really, we thought we'd heard of everything when it comes to lower impact fitness classes offered at hotels. That is, we thought we'd heard of everything until we got wind of the "Good Night Sleep Stretch" at the Park Hyatt Tokyo.
Sure, the hotel may be more famous for its cloud-high New York Bar where pivotal scenes of Lost in Translation were filmed, but unlike the bar with its evening cover charge, the Sleep Stretch is a free amenity for guests.
So what happens? Every Wednesday and Saturday night at 9pm in the Aerobics Studio of the hotel's Club On The Park, guests come together with an instructor to "relax and stretch [their] entire body before bed to promote a restful sleep." Simple and relaxing. And did we mention it was free?
Signature at the Mandarin Oriental Tokyo
So let's say you're flying long-haul from the US to Japan, and you're looking forward to a stay at the Mandarin Oriental Tokyo. After arrival, you'll have a quick shower, a quick nap and then head down to the hotel's Michelin-starred restaurant to fill up and recover from jet lag, right?
Right. Except you can now begin that experience in advance of landing, since Japanese airline ANA just announced they've redeveloped their onboard menu to include offerings from Signature, the Mandarin Oriental's French-inspired restaurant. They'll hit the traytables of Business Class flyers from December through February, following September-November specials from a Michelin 2-starred ryokan (traditional Japanese hotel) in Yugawara Onsen.
ANA won't be the first airline to partner up with Mandarin Oriental, either. German flag carrier Lufthansa signed up the Mandarin Oriental New York's Asiate chef to do something similar, but they were first with it. Still, better food in the skies is always the best news, especially where it involves Michelin-starred hotel restos.
[Photo: Mandarin Oriental]
Did you know that fifty minutes outside of Nagasaki, Japan, there is a resort the size of Monaco that is modeled after a 17th-century Dutch town? Complete with windmills, canals, fields of tulips, and an exact replica of the residence of H.M. Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands, built with special permission from the Dutch Royal family?
Named "Huis Ten Bosch" (after the Queen's residence, which translates as House in the Forest), the resort was built in honor of the shared history between Nagasaki and the Netherlands, dating back to the arrival of a Dutch ship called "De Liefde" (The Love) in 1600.
Centuries later, the resort / theme park was built on reclaimed land, much like parts of the country it was modelled after. Hundreds of thousands of trees and flowers were planted to regenerate the area, with sustainability and environmentalism still a major focus today. You can stroll around cobble-stone streets, or go native and take a bike, stopping by one of the museums before getting a spa treatment on your way to an afternoon bit of theatre.
It's always 11pm somewhere in the world...
We like it when hotels tell us what to do. After all, they're the experts (or at least should be) on local activities, when to drink, where to visit—plus, it's always good to add a bit of structure to your hotel stay. And that's just what the newly refurbished Palace Hotel Tokyo is offering on their website—the home screen makes subtle itinerary suggestions like the best times to eat sushi, have a cocktail, visit the spa...or just laze in bed (one of our favorites).
Opening next month (May 17 to be exact), the 290-room Palace Hotel Toyko will be a re-envisioning of the original Palace Hotel, which opened in 1961 as Japan's first ever mixed use office-hotel building. That hotel was then razed in 2009 to make way for this newer, sleeker, more modernized version. Ten restaurants and bars, a Club Lounge, an Evian spa and free WiFi are some of the amenities the hotel is advertising, though we're mainly interested in the fact that all rooms supposedly have views of the gardens at Tokyo's Imperial Palace.
In Japan (where else?), it's now perfectly acceptable to book a hotel room for your sheep when you go away. We recently received an announcement about a new 30-room hotel, called simply "Hotel Sheep Guest House," opening in Yugawara, Kanagawa Prefecture, about two hours south of Tokyo.
Surprisingly, unlike doggie boarding houses, or human hotels that are pet-friendly, this Japanese hotel strictly prohibits all other animals, meaning at any given moment its rooms are full of only sheep. How incredible! This is exactly the kind of place we'd like to visit when we're having an off day. Cuddling with all those sheep, ordering room service, maybe even watching a movie (Shrek somehow seems appropriate) would be like a hotel dream come true.
Cleaning up after them is another story.
HotelChatter Flickr Pool / Religious Hotels / Westin Hotels / Sendai Hotels / Japan Hotels / hotel Churches / → All Tags
The all white church, or rather chapel, is used most during weddings but we're guessing if you needed a moment to talk to the man upstairs during your hotel stay, you could pop in for a quickie prayer session too.
Rates at the Westin in Japan's "City of Trees" start at around $229 a night.
A quick tip for a stay at the ridiculously well located Peninsula Tokyo: pay the extra to secure a Deluxe Park View, because that "Park" bit actually means Imperial Palace gardens. They may be out of focus in the photo above, but can you blame us for being far more focused on a large Japanese breakfast spread at the moment?
Rooms on the park side of the hotel have commanding views of the Imperial Palace and its acresbring mini binoculars to watch the processions, full of pomp, without having to even venture outside and join the throng of photo-snapping tourists.
At night the view is just as pleasant, since having all of these private gardens next door means it's one of the only areas in the metropolis to get truly darka luxury on its own.
Before you can step into the preserved 1960s modernist environment that is the grand lobby of the Hotel Okura Tokyo, you first must arrive. For many that means being driven up and around to the hotel's off-the-street- entrance, where there'll be one valet for each door that needs opening, and more still to whisk away your bags.
Anyone who has experienced classic 5-star service at a Japanese hotel can tell you that this is par for the course; the need to touch anything mundanedoors, luggage, room keyscan be erased completely by some attentive hotel staffs, and if you chose to stay at the Okura then you likely already know this.
This attention to detail, which starts at the arrival of your car, continues all the way through to the teacakes served at the hotel's patisserie. Essentially it's the art of perfection at practice.