Tokyo is one of those cities, that is hard to grasp. 37 million people live in the greater metropolis area and yet Tokyo is among the most quiet and relaxed cities we’ve ever visited. Maybe that’s also because we stayed in a hotel, that feels like a sanctuary amidst skyscrapers. Let us introduce you to the Hoshinoya ryokan hotel in Tokyo!
Traditional elements like bamboo, Tatami mats and washi paper make the Hoshinoya so special.
A sense of calm & quiet
Upon arrival we were greeted in the garage of the hotel. That’s where cars drop of guests and it feels a bit like entering the Batman cave – hidden and secretive. But once you step into the elevator the senses begin to calm down. Seconds later we arrived in the lower Lobby, that is decorated with countless bamboo cubes, which double as shoe storage boxes. It’s time to take off the shoes, like it’s the tradition in any Japanese home. You’ll get Japanese slippers and are escorted to the upper lobby level.
A mochi, fresh matcha tea plus a hot towel mark the beginning of the stay.
This process might feel complicated, but it’s supposed to feel like a cleansing ritual – letting you leave behind the city and enter into a new world. And that’s exactly what a ryokan should be – it’s not simply a hotel, but a sanctuary, that follows very specific Japanese traditions and rules.
Therefore most of the Hoshinoya hotel is covered in Tatami mats – even the elevators that lead up to the rooms. All the windows are covered by traditional sliding doors (shoji), comprised of wood and paper (washi) – softening the city lights, that enter the building.
The hotel facade is covered in a mesh of intricate metal decorations and inside washi paper softens the light.
Privacy & space on every floor
Every floor of the Hoshinoya Tokyo features only 6 rooms an has it’s own lounge area with a complimentary self-service tea and snacks bar, featuring the homemade Japanese crackers, which we ate (maybe a bit too often ;)) in these days!
The lounge on every floor features complimentary snacks, drinks and fresh brewed tea.
The Kiku rooms
The Hoshinoya in Tokyo has 3 different room types, we stayed at one of the Kiku rooms, which are the largest rooms in the hotel with 83 squaremeters at your disposal. That’s almost as big as our apartment in Vienna, true luxury in a city like Tokyo.
The beds are prepared in a traditional style on the floor.
The Kiku rooms offer 83 squaremeters of space.
From kimonos and Sake tastings
In the room we are greeted with welcome tea and our very own Kimonos to wear inside the hotel if we want to. They are like the obligatory hotel bathrobes, just way prettier and also thought to be worn outside of the room.
So we slip into the kimonos, unpack our stuff and then go down to the upper lobby again as it’s time for the daily Sake tasting and Japanese theatrical art show. We are not Sake experts (yet), but got a lovely selection of different rice wines to taste while watching a comedic balancing act on the stage of the lobby. What a nice welcome to Tokyo!
Sake tasting and a traditional Japanese performance are held every day at Hoshinoya Tokyo.
A rooftop Onsen in the middle of Tokyo
After a day of city explorations it was time to unwind and relax at the hotel the next evening. And the Hoshinoya hotel doesn’t just offer you a regular Spa experience, but goes all the way back to the roots of Japanese wellness with it’s own Onsen – right at the top floor of the building.
As with every Onsen visit you’ll follow specific steps for the traditional experience – but at Hoshinoya it’s enhanced with an open-air bathing hall, in the middle of the city. The water is drawn from 1.500 meters below ground and has a high saline content, which makes it very soothing for the skin. For us this was the perfect way to relax after a day of many many steps while exploring Tokyo!
No photos allowed in the Onsen… sorry! 🙂
Morning rituals: Breakfast in the room
At Hoshinoya Tokyo privacy is at the core of the concept, therefore breakfast is also served in the room. The day before you order your items from the vast breakfast menu and set a time for the delivery. We usually love this kind of breakfast service and pay extra in other hotels, but at Hoshinoya this is included in the room rate. And of course there’s also a Western breakfast menu in case you need a break from Japanese breakfasts!
We opted for croissants, juice, granola and jam for a little change after many days of Japanese breakfast before.
Learning the art of the Japanese tea ceremony
When coming to Japan it’s basically a must to also learn about the art of tea, that is so famously preserved in Japan. At Hoshinoya we had the chance to be introduced into the art in a private tea ceremony. We loved this experience although we have to say we didn’t like that it took place at the public lobby, where we were a bit disturbed by a group of guests checking out and loudly discussing plans and handling luggage. We would’ve preferred to enjoy the tea ceremony in a private separée.
At the Japanese tea ceremony you’ll learn how to clean the bowl, brew the Matcha tea and correctly drink it.
The future of ryokans
Today the number of ryokans is diminishing in Japan, while the number of hotels is rising. Keeping up the traditional style of guest-houses seems like it’s not fitting with the needs of nowadays visitors, but at Hoshinoya Tokyo they managed to find a perfect balance of those Japanese traditions with modern amenities and service level!
Even if you stay at a Ryokan you might not want to give up on amenities like a workspace, TV or WiFi.
Hoshinoya has the best of both worlds.
The perfect traveller type for Hoshinoya Tokyo
As always with our hotel reviews we try to find out who the perfect traveller type would be for the hotel. At Hoshinoya we believe guests are keen on privacy, calm and an authentic Japanese experience, without abstaining from their needs for contemporary technology (yes, there’s TVs in the rooms and WiFi) and service (there’s a concierge that will help with all of your wishes, like finding a vegetarian restaurant and booking a table in our case).
We think the Hoshinoya hotel in Tokyo is ideal for couples or singles, but not a place where we would travel with kids, as the atmosphere is very quiet and there is a sense of deliberate slowing down, which might be challenging with children.