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While we wait to find out if/when Malaysian budget-happy, pay-as-you-go, chain Tune Hotels will make their entry into the U.S. market, we hear that they are going gangbusters in Japan, having just announced plans to open 20 new hotels over the next six years -- just in time for the 2020 Olympics.
The brand currently has 38 hotels in Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Philippines, United Kingdom, India and Australia, and there is currently already one Tune Hotel in Japan: in Naha, Okinawa. Tim Hansing, CEO of Red Planet Hotels, owners and operators of 18 Tune Hotels across Japan, Thailand, Philippines and Indonesia says: “Now that we have established ourselves and the Tune Hotels brand in Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines, our strategy has always been to expand in north Asia and we will be commencing this move in Japan first of all.”
Nowhere does cute quite like Japan does cute, so we're not all that surprised to hear that the Tokyo Prince Hotel is currently offering a Hello Kitty-themed suite.
While it's not the first Hello Kitty themed room we've come across in Japan, it is rather more family friendly than our previous find; the Hello Kitty S&M Room at Hotel Adonis, Osaka
Plenty of hotels are upping the ante in terms of in-house art collections -- think the Basquiats, Botero and Warhols decorating the walls of New York’s Gramercy Park Hotel -- but how would you like to sleep inside an actual museum? We’re not talking about a Night at the Museum-style slumber party, but a place where the hotel rooms form part of the museum itself.
The concrete, minimalist Tadao Ando-designed Hotel Benesse House, located on the tiny Japanese island of Naoshima, is a combined museum/hotel that is the centerpiece of the Benesse Corporation's art facilities on this fishing community turned 'art island.'
Around twenty years ago, Naoshima, which was facing an aging population, declining birthrate and disappearing industry, caught the attention of the art-loving billionaire chairman of the Benesse Corporation, Soichiro Fukutake. Fukutake’s donations opened art galleries and installations (including the museum/hotel in 1992) that helped to revitalize the island’s economy by turning it into a contemporary art center. Naoshima, along with the surrounding islands of the Japanese Inland Sea, is currently hosting the Setouchi Art Triennal, an international art festival that takes place over three cycles every three years (the current cycle runs from July 20th through September 1st).
There's tons of hotel news flying around this week and we don't have time to give each and every story the love and attention it may deserve, so you will have to settle for some news briefs.
· The Laura Ashley Hotel Has Opened But Looks Nothing Like Our Old Dresss: After our mothers clothed us in Laura Ashley from head to toe for about a good five years and blanketed our childhood bedroom in, well, Laura Ashley blankets, pillows and wallpaper, you will have to excuse us for not being all that excited about the first Laura Ashley, The Manor to open. The Guardian reports that Hertfordshire Tudor revival property, 11 miles from London, will have 49 rooms featuring a "discreet modern bloom", neutral walls and carpets and check curtains. But we have to admit, looking at the gallery of rooms, they don't look anything like the floral abominations we were forced to wear as a child. Indeed, it looks like a quaint country getaway. Rooms start at £150 for a standard room.
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There are over 3,500 Marriott hotels on Earth. There could be 3.5 million and that still wouldn't be enough to satisfy the world's traveling population, and so, for your future travel pleasures, we present three small hotel chains you've probably never heard of but should totally book because they're awesome (and growing):
P.S. - they all have free WiFi!
They just rebranded with a new tagline, "come as you are," and we couldn't be more in love. 25hours have become our number one choice for a hotel when staying in the four cities where they have locations, and we've reviewed two right here on HotelChatterFrankfurt-Goldman and Hamburg-HafenCity.
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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.
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We've had our fair share of Japanese hotel adventures, though we never quite tire of hearing about the country's unique taste in budget accommodations. Starting at around $38/night, these places are ideal if you have little cash to spare but need more than just a washing machine-sized capsule.
RocketNews has put together a handy list of the best amenities offered at Japanese budget hotels, explaining in 26 concise bullet points all the useful little extras that get thrown in, like free internet, free toiletries, free water, hand-written notes from housekeepers, pillow menus, origami souvenirs, and air purifiers. Oh yeah, and high-tech toilets.
Which got us thinking...where in the US can we find similar types of amenities?
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.
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.
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.