Staying in a luxury ryokan, or traditional Japanese accommodation, is an experience not to be missed, due to the peace, tranquility and authentic Japanese experience it offers. The most common places for ryokan stays are in the countryside while visiting Mount Fuji or big cities like Kyoto. One place where you wouldn’t expect tranquility is in bustling Tokyo, which is exactly why HOSHINOYA Tokyo is one of the city’s finest luxury destinations.
For all intents and purposes, this is a luxury hotel that has gone out of its way to bring an elevated ryokan experience, its associated cultural activities, as well as extra local perks to each guest. It also houses its namesake restaurant, one of the most incredible, under-the-radar fine-dining experiences in all of Tokyo.
Opened in 2016, the hotel features 84 rooms, with six rooms per floor. This layout is purposeful, as property owners determined that six rooms per floor were ideal to make guests feel as though they are in a real ryokan: with intimacy and privacy, but also the occasional interaction with other guests. HOSHINOYA Tokyo facilitates these interactions with an Ochanoma lounge on each floor. This lounge – or common room – is the nucleus of the ryokan experience, bringing fresh beverages, a bar, and morning, afternoon and evening snacks. While difficult to choose highlights, their “night noodles” are the perfect fix after a late night out in the country’s capital, and their small-but-mighty ice cream bites are just the thing to re-energize guests after they’ve spent time at another of hotel’s best features: a private rooftop onsen. The water of the Otemachi Onsen, or hot springs, is sourced from 1,500 m below ground, and is directed up to the roof of the building where the onsen is located. With an indoor/outdoor component, the onsen is separated by gender and is an absolute architectural dream that blends modernity with Japanese elegance. For a traditional onsen experience, try capping off your dip with an ice-cold bottle of milk, which the hotel provides in the changing rooms.
Guests should also make a point to take advantage of HOSHINOYA’s restaurant, led by award-winning Executive Chef Noriyuki Hamada, which competes head-to-head with other well-known French-Japanese restaurants in Tokyo, but for unbeatable value. Chef Hamada uses French techniques and Japanese ingredients to deliver a meal reflective of the sea, rivers and soil of Japan. At the time of our visit, fish was included in almost every dish, with its presence being more noticeable in some, and more subtle in others. Chef Hamada’s multi-course menu is as delicious as it is playful, and as art-forward as it is nose-to-tail conscious. One signature dish, “Five Flavors of Delight,” consists of five little bites, each representing sour, sweet, bitter, salty and spicy, and each served on individual stones heated to the ideal temperature. This dish is a true sensory experience of flavour profiles, seasonality and art.
As with the Otemachi Onsen, HOSHINOYA Tokyo’s focus is on providing guests with activities and seasonal events that make Japanese culture more easily accessible. Other examples of this onsite are:
- Sake Lounge (open daily from 5 to 7 p.m.), which features premium wine and sake from across Japan
- “Grand Kagura” entertainment of traditional Japanese acrobatic performance
- Tea Ceremony and class, in which you learn to make your own matcha and learn about this important element of hospitality in Japan
- “The art of incense” class, which is a game of sorts that helps you develop a keener sense of smell
- Deep breathing exercise, which is a 30-minute program held at 10 p.m. before bedtime to better sleep (complimentary)
- Wake up exercises to start the day refreshed and energized; another 30-minute program held at 7 a.m. (complimentary)
- Access to various seasonal city tours by foot, boat and more (we highly recommend taking advantage of their partners during cherry blossom season)
One of the best parts about HOSHINOYA Tokyo is that while you are in the heart of Tokyo far from the countryside (even with Mount Fuji visible on a beautiful day), upon entering HOSHINOYA, it all feels miles away. Take it all in and enjoy the traditional Japanese style – be it tatami mat floors, shoji paper sliding doors, bamboo or plasterwork – paired with extraordinary service that will make this busy city feel more zen than ever expected.
Photo credit: Hoshino Resorts Inc.