Luxury Ryokan in Tokyo - HOSHINOYA Tokyo Review

September 27, 2018 stella lee

It was my birthday on mid - September, and being busy with my school + adjusting life in the new city, I was in need of a real holiday. A place where I can relax, and forget how busy Tokyo has to offer. Most Japanese will recommend you to visit Ryokan outside the city, and Hakone is the most popular option since it's famous for their onsen (hot springs). But for those of you who want to try luxury ryokan without the hassle of going all the way outside the city, HOSHINOYA Tokyo could be the best option you could ever find

Located in the heart of Tokyo with Tokyo Station or Otemachi Station in walking distance, you could be transported to a serene Japan and forget that you're in fact in one of the busiest districts ever


ENTRANCE


Let's start with their grand entrance that provides high ceiling with decorative shoe boxes for guests' shoes on the left side. Upon arrival, the staffs would greet you and place your shoes neatly inside the shoe boxes and if you're planning to get out of the hotel, you have the option to use your own shoes or their comfortable zouris! 



On the corner of the alley, you'll have their seasonal decoration and it's often become a photo spot for guests! :) The entrance is on the first floor and the front desk and the lobby is located on the 2nd floor. Upon arrival after 3PM, the staff usually take the guests directly to the tea lounge on their floor. To keep hotel guests' privacy, HOSHINOYA Tokyo allows hotel guests only, so the staffs from the entrance would have to ask about your purpose of coming to this hotel first. You can let them take care of your luggage while you're going up to your staying floor. And right after you step into the entrance, the floors are all covered in tatami, even inside the lift!


After a check-in procedure, I was brought to my room and the staff prepared a welcome tea and snack for me! Also, they knew that my stay is for my birthday and they prepared a little gift and birthday message. And they do it to every guest who comes to celebrate something, whether it's wedding anniversary, winning celebration, and so on. How thoughtful!

ROOM


The room that I stayed at was KIKU room. There were 3 types of rooms available in HOSHINOYA Tokyo, and KIKU room is the biggest of all, and it can host up to 3 guests. I stayed there only with another friend, hence there were only 2 futons laid out. But if you booked a room for 3 persons, you can get 3 futons prepared! 

When you close the windows, it looks like normal ryokan, far away from the city. However, if you open it up, you can see a beautiful fence design and tall building surrounding the resort


KIKU room offers dining space, living space, separated wardrobe area, big bathroom with a big bathtub and separated toilet. The whole room beside the bathroom is covered with tatami, and as expected of HOSHINOYA, the lighting play is beyond amazing as they put lights at certain spots as well as buttons for us to control the level of its brightness 


The living space is amazing to chill at, and although HOSHINO Resorts usually won't provide TV, since it's in the busy district of Tokyo with many businessmen need to be updated with the news, they provide TV on the big glass screen. You could take some of the snacks from the lounge free of charge (will talk about it more down below) and eat it at the comfort of your own living room

The whole experience is for us to relax and that's why they prepare their kimono to be used for the guests, you can use it both inside the hotel or if taking a stroll around Tokyo-Otemachi area. It was so comfortable so I walked around the hotel with it, and in fact, nobody bats an eye

IN ROOM DINING BREAKFAST


The breakfast is not included in the hotel room's fee unlike other ryokans, but they prepare free onigiri on the public lounge for hotel guests. However, if you wish to escalate your morning, I suggest you get their breakfast. HOSHINOYA Tokyo offers 2 types of breakfast, Japanese, and Western. Since I stayed there for 2 nights, I tried both of them and I love them all!

The breakfast comes with traditional wooden box and they'll deliver it to your room according to the time you prefer. The Japanese breakfast comes with a set of salad, main dishes, a few side dishes, and dessert. Not to mention old stove-made rice and warm miso soup. For the western breakfast, it comes with a set of breads, salad, omelette-bacon-sausage, and dessert. I can feel the effort and omotenashi put into each dishes because every thing is well made and fresh!


Though I love both of them since it's Japan, I really recommend having Japanese breakfast!

SAKE LOUNGE


After 5pm, if you go to the second floor where the lobby is located at, a little spot is transformed to a sake lounge where guests can enjoy all you can drink sake while reading books, chatting with guests, or watching performances (Depending on the time)


This is how the lobby and the lounge look like. This is where they also sell some of their products such as the dishes, or the one that I was eyeing the most, their skincare set!

GRAND KAGURA PERFORMANCE


The Sake Lounge was open from 5pm, every day from 5.15pm, there's a Grand Kagura performance. Basically, it's an acrobatics performance where the performer tries to rotate a lot of items with rotating umbrella. They also let guests participate and I tried to twist the umbrella to make the paper ball rolled. It was a really fun experience and it's free of charge!


TEA CEREMONY

In the morning, there's another activity you can do while staying in the hotel. Tea Ceremony!
You can drink real matcha and wagashi while experiencing to make your own matcha. It's located on the second floor as well, the same place where Grand Kagura Performance was held


I have had tea ceremony experiences many times before but as expected, watching the person performing the tea ceremony is an art itself and gives me a sense of tranquility. Worry not since the staff that performs the tea ceremony is fluent in English, and in fact, most of the staffs in HOSHINOYA Tokyo can speak English very well! This is something that makes me want to boost Hoshinoya even more to my audience because if you stay at a normal ryokan, they might not have staffs that can speak English to you and won't be able to explain the whole rules and culture well to you. By staying at HOSHINOYA, you get the best local experience while understanding it as well thanks to their English fluency

LOUNGE


Remember the snacks that I told you was free of charge and could be brought back to your room? The guests' lounge is available on each floor and you will love this area so much. Feel free to make your own coffee or tea, get juices or beers from the fridge, grab some tasty snacks during the afternoon, or make instant noodles during the night. In the morning they also serve free onigiri in this area



Besides providing a few interesting books, they also provide traditional toys to be played with at the lounge!


Since the ryokan experience is more about staying in the ryokan itself instead of going out, I basically chilled in this lounge for around 2 hours just drinking tea, making some origamis, eating some okashi, and playing traditional Japanese toys. I learned how to play kendama and it was one of the most relaxing trips I have ever had in Tokyo. Getting disconnected from the world and just enjoy my time slowly without all the city noises, it couldn't be better

 ONSEN


It's not Japan and Ryokan if there's no onsen. HOSHINOYA Tokyo has its onsen on the 17th floor and they dig their own natural hot springs from the ground and transfer it to the top floor. The onsen area is separated with indoor and outdoor. The picture above was the outdoor type where in fact the top part is not covered under a roof so you could see the sky while sitting in the onsen

The picture above was taken with under permission when the onsen was closed for public. No camera is allowed inside the onsen


And worry not if you don't bring your amenities because HOSHINOYA Tokyo provides amenities both in the onsen area or in your room. They use Lirio Skincare and I swear for 3 days using it, I could tell my skin becomes suppler and evener. It's available to be purchased in the hotel's lobby


And maybe I read too many mangas in my life, but nothing is complete without drinking cold milk or coffee after a nice warm onsen! After drying my hair, putting on skincare, and wearing my kimono, I like to have my fresh milk dose and it helps to rejuvenate my body!

SPA


And have you always dreamed of having the real Japanese massage? Therapists in HOSHINOYA is well selected among the best therapist in Japan and they are well experienced, believe them that you're in the right hand

The course that they provide vary depending on your condition, but usually, they will ask what kind of treatments you want and which parts of the body you want to be focused on. I chose SHIKI treatment which is their signature treatment that uses Japanese medicinal plants that's covered with cloth to look like a ball and steamed before patted to my body.


It helps my fatigue, resulting in a much more relaxed body and mind. My left shoulder was pretty tensed because of all the stress and heavy works (I bring 7kgs camera wherever I work), and after the treatment, it's back to normal! Definitely, a must try when you're staying in the hotel

DEEP BREATH ACTIVITY


In the early morning or late night, before and after sleeping, there's another activity free of charge to be joined at. It's called Deep Breath Activity. Basically, the teacher would help you to meditate and teach you how to breath to make you relaxed and in peace. There's no religion involved in this deep breath activity since it's just how you should breath. I can feel my core muscles worked out just because of doing this activity and it definitely helps me much more composed

DINNER COURSE


I am saving the best for the last, and it's their mindblowing dinner experience that incorporates French style into traditional Japanese cuisine. The head chef is Noriyuki Hamada, the youngest winner of the Bocuse d'Or Japan gastronomic competition in 2004, and the Bronze winner at the 2013 Bocuse d'Or World Finale, where he also earned first place in the fish category. The dining room is located in the basement area where you could get a private dining room or normal tables with separators to still keep your privacy

The private dining room itself is simple and the light in the dining room helps to accentuate the meals. The dinner course is 18.000yen excludes service charge and tax, and it's changed seasonally. As I stayed there in mid-September and autumn is coming, I got to try their autumn dishes with a lot of fishes, mushrooms, and chestnut


We started the dinner with black cracker appetizer that's not on the menu which is fish bone that's turned into powder and pressed to be a cracker. After that, I had Japanese Artichoke potage that's creamy and so smooth to the point I wonder how many times they had to filter it to make this fine potage


Following after, their signature 5 Flavors of Delight that will give you 5 flavors to taste, literally. From the left is SANMI, which gives a sour flavor that comes from pickles. Then ENMI, a salty flavor from the mushroom soup that's shaped to a mushroom shape. NIGAMI, a bitter flavor from shungiku and sanma shaped into ball with rice croquette. KARAMI, a spicy taste from chili and fish. And last but not least, AMAMI, sweet flavor that comes from Kabocha that's turned into a fine Montblanc

It's a bite-sized piece that will instantly give an explosion of flavor inside your mouth and if you touch the ball plate, you'll notice that it has a different temperature on each ball to keep the temperature for each meal to not lose its best flavor. The head chef is particular at the temperature of each food since even 1'c difference will change the flavor, so they preserve it through the ball-plate. What an effort!


Next I have Aji (Horse Mackerel) that's layered with Soba no Mi (early stage of Soba), and tomato paste. It creates amazing 3 layers of flavors that's topped with 5 flavors of mushrooms spread sideways. The mushrooms used are Brown Mushroom, BUNAPI (Japanese Mushroom), Toki Iro Hirataki (Pink Mushroom that has sour flavor, I love it the most!), Nameko (oftenly used at Miso Soup). and Hana Biratake. The whole combination is amazing and each mushroom provides distinct flavor that will leave you wanting for more


One of the highlights of the dinner course during Fall 2018 is Suppon, which is a Soft Sea Turtle. They combine it with big sizes Matsutake Mushroom to create a rich flavor of soup despite its translucent water. Once the bowl's cover's opened, the fragrant of matsutake that reminds me of Japanese autumn is so strong and carves a smile on my face. Don't you dare to doubt the taste as it will warm up your tummy as well as your heart


Next is this Apple and Crab combination, it came with a big real apple on the plate and once the staff took it off, this beautiful dish was revealed like a birthday cake. The top of it is the crab's eggs that's made into fine powder and the outside is very thin sliced apples, wrapping puree apple and crab's meat inside. The temperature is not cold neither warm since it's believed that this is the best temperature to achieve the perfect umami, and oh boy the chef wasn't wrong


After that, I had Anago with eggplant sauce that's grilled until it turns black, and mixed with Ayu fish broth. The anago is grilled with charcoal hence there's smokey flavor and sprinkled with fried eggplant skin. Next is Samegarei, which is a Japanese fish that's served with sauces, Kinkan (Kumquat) puree and bearnaise sauce that's made by egg yolk and Uawamizu-sakura (Japanese bird cherry). The fish has amazing crispiness on the skin and the fat is the best part as it melts inside my mouth!


For the desserts, I had 2 desserts which is Pear dessert that has Japanese Pear Sorbet and Sour Cream in the glass, sprinkled with Shichimi as an accent Herbs. Second I had a Houjicha Chesnut Montblanc. The whipped cream on the top is the mixture of whipped cream and chesnut. The inside consists of steamed chestnuts and chestnut sauce that will give a little explosion of sauce if you break it right in the center. The cookie dough is airy yet gives crunchy sound, and the taste is? It's probably the best Montblanc I have ever had!

And when I thought the course was over, the staff came back and gave me the last dessert set that's not included in the menu, along with warm matcha (you can ask for coffee as well). It's the petite four but in fact, we had petite five instead! It's a bite-sized dessert which consists of Ichigo Mousse, Matcha Rollcake, Kuromame Financier, Satsumaimo Macaron, and Kinako Meringue

It's really amazing to taste Japanese flavor with French technique and it's definitely a mindblowing experience. I always have no complain whenever I dined at HOSHINO Resorts properties because they're incorporating local flavors and escalating it to another level! I wish that I could eat it again even when I don't stay in the hotel but unfortunately, the dining experience is STRICTLY for guests only! :(

So please, if you're staying in the hotel, one thing that you have to do the most is to try their dinner course since it's worth all the money! For this kind of dining experience, you will have to pay around the same or even more if you're eating in Tokyo. It's so worth it!


And my 3 days 2 nights escapade in HOSHINOYA Tokyo has to come to the end. It was sad for me to leave the amazing ryokan, and probably the most luxurious Ryokan ever in Tokyo. All the little details, hospitality, peaceful environment, stellar dining experience, I felt like transported in the middle of far away mountain though in fact it's located in the center of Tokyo

The best part is when going back to my apartment, it's just 15 mins away by Taxi. I don't have to worry about hours of traveling if I had to stay at Hakone or other ryokans in the mountains. It's really a perfect escape for those who are busy and don't have time to go outside the Tokyo but still want to experience Ryokan holiday. And although I know the price is pretty steep, but with the amount of luxury you receive during the stay, and minus the transportation cost + transportation time, I think it's worth an experience to stay here at least once in your life

Thank you HOSHINOYA Tokyo for hosting me. For further information, check out their website at 




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