Get to know the arrivals defining the hotel boom in Japan, starting with a boutique property right at the heart of the city’s newest hot spot
The Olympics may be postponed until 2021 but that’s no reason to pass up a trip to Japan (as and when your local government allows you to travel, of course). Consider it research for next year’s milestone event or a treat after months of being cooped up indoors.
It’s a particularly good time to explore the country given the host of new hotel openings coupled with a recent announcement from JR East that it’s cutting shinkansen ticket prices in half until next March. From independent hotels in Tokyo’s less trodden districts to luxury properties in key travel destinations, here are six places to call your home for the night.
Close to the elegant, cobblestone streets of Marunouchi is Kabuto-cho in Nihonbashi, a financial district home to the Tokyo Stock Exchange that is currently experiencing a creative renaissance. At the centre of its transformation is K5, a boutique hotel set in a 1920s former bank building, which opened its doors earlier this year.
Swedish design firm Claesson Koivisto Rune designed the Scandi-Japanese minimalist interiors as well as a trove of bespoke pieces, from the hotel’s seating down to its pencils. K5’s converted spaces feature an explosion of on-trend greenery and house a micro-complex of restaurants and bars, including a wine bar set in a library, a Chinese medicine-meets-mixology concept that serves natural cocktails and Caveman—the second restaurant of acclaimed Japanese chef Atsuki Kuroda of Kabi.
2. The Ritz-Carlton Nikko
Those in search of a nearby escape from Tokyo should skip Hakone in favour of Nikko. Just a 100-minute train ride away, mythical Nikko is a less-explored destination dotted with serene lakes and waterfalls as well as numerous Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples.
Taking pride of place in Nikko National Park is The Ritz-Carlton Nikko, which opened this July as the brand’s fifth property in Japan. Thoughtfully designed by Layan Architects + Designers of Australia, the 94-room resort offers spacious guestrooms ranging from 57 to 277square metres, all of which look onto Lake Chuzenji and the sacred slopes of Mount Nantai. Don’t miss the hotel’s open-air and indoor hot spring baths that draw sulfuric waters from the nearby Yumoto Onsen—an offering that’s the first of its kind for the Ritz-Carlton brand.
3. JW Marriott Hotel Nara
Fancy mingling with friendly deer while roaming historic sites? Jump on the shinkansen to the ancient capital of Nara, home to Japan’s oldest palace and three Unesco World Heritage Sites (more than any other prefecture in the country).
Opening this summer is JW Marriott Hotel Nara, the only international property in the area, which also marks the brand’s debut in Japan. All of the 158 luxurious guestrooms are dressed in warm orange and earth tones, a homage to Nara’s traditional mountain-burning festival “The Wakakusa Yamayaki”. Enjoy a gastronomic journey at their restaurant Azekura, which offers three Japanese dining styles namely sushi, teppanyaki and kaiseki or choose to relax at the Spa by JW, the ideal stop after a long day of walking through Nara’s living history.
4. Ace Hotel Kyoto
The creative nomad’s hotel brand of choice has finally planted their flag in Japan with the launch of Ace Hotel Kyoto last month. Taking residence in the former Kyoto Central Telephone Office—a landmark building by architect Tetsuro Yoshida—the hotel makes up one part of the redevelopment of ShinPhuKan and is located close to cultural centres such as the Nishiki Market and The Museum of Kyoto.
Designed by legendary architect Kengo Kuma in partnership with Ace Hotel’s go-to collaborators Commune Design, the 213-room hotel espouses an east-meets-west aesthetic philosophy with a marked reverence to Japanese crafts. As with any Ace property, it features a vibrant lobby with the ultra-curated Ace shop, Japan’s first-ever Stumptown Coffee outlet, and three restaurants by acclaimed chef-partners Naomi Pomeroy of Beast in Portland, Marc Vetri of Vetri Cucina in Philadelphia and Wes Avila of Guerrilla Tacos in Los Angeles.
5. The Tokyo Edition, Toranomon
The partnership between Ian Schrager and Marriott Hotels is on a roll as they prepare to launch The Tokyo Edition, Toranomon in September—marking the brand’s debut in Japan and their third property in East Asia. Designed by renowned architect Kengo Kuma, who was also behind the creation of the Tokyo Olympic Stadium 2020, the hotel is a harmonious medley of old and new.
Located in the nexus of residential neighbourhoods and entertainment areas, The Tokyo Edition is a convenient base to get to know the city; you’ll even be provided with a custom-made Edition x Tokyobike bicycle to ease that exploration. Each of the 206 guest rooms offers sweeping views of the city’s skyline, but none like the Edition Penthouse, which enjoys a 180-degree view of Tokyo. Being a Schrager property, it is designed to make a splash: the lively lobby lounge overlooks the gleaming Tokyo Tower and one restaurant’s 90-seater terrace is the only skyscraper outdoor dining of this scale in the Japanese capital.
6. Park Hyatt Niseko Hanazono
Niseko is a well-loved winter destination—it’s not nicknamed “Japan’s Aspen” for nothing—but not many know that it’s equally beautiful during green season. Discover Hokkaido’s verdant landscape when you check into the newly opened Park Hyatt Niseko Hanazono, a sprawling complex designed by acclaimed Bar Studio with a 100-room hotel and over 60 branded residences (ranging from studio to three-bedrooms).
Located on the northeastern side of Mount Annupuri, this ski-in, ski-out resort embodies the ethos of Japanese design with pared-down interiors featuring warm, natural materials. While all of the rooms have floor-to-ceiling windows that frame stunning views of Mount Yotei, we suggest splurging on one of the nine suites equipped with a private onsen. Spacious rooms aside, the hotel also features a ski valet, six signature restaurants, wellness facilities including six treatment rooms and a 25-metre indoor pool, and even an event village for large celebrations.
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