HOSHINOYA: Ryokan at its best

I was very impatient to experience Hoshinoya in Tokyo. I have travelled a bit, and was invited to a few luxury hotels before but Hoshinoya is something else! It’s Japanese pure tradition mixed with modernism. And you understand it as soon as you arrive in front of the incredible building tower. It’s not the usual grandiloquent 5 stars hotel entrance. There is actually just a small minimalist sign on the right side of the huge cypress door.

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Ryokan has existed since the eighth century A.D. and they are usually located in scenic areas. But Hoshinoya Tokyo is located in the business district. There is not much around except offices, but, honestly, Hoshinoya is all you need. Because you are living an incredible and unique experience. As soon as you enter the building you step in another world; a world of peace and softness. First thing i noticed is the delicious and subtle perfume of incense. You arrive in a tatami hallway, aligned with a wall of bamboo shoe-boxes, ending with a gorgeous seasonal decoration installation: This time it was a miniature sakura tree as it was indeed cherryblossom time.

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I was welcomed by 2 adorable staff members in kimonos who invited me to take off my shoes right away before giving me a tour. Inside Hoshinoya, You are now wearing the traditional japanese socks. The guide then walks you over to the elevator and you arrive into the lobby where the main activities take place. The atmosphere is very delicate, peaceful and quiet. I was then brought to my floor. You only have access to your own floor, the lobby, the restaurant and the Onsen, which is the traditional Japanese bath. My floor was number 17. Each floor has a very limited number of rooms and one shared lounge space, the ochanoma, which is filled with many delicacies, from traditional pastries, teas, drinks, snacks, all complementaries. You can find books as well and can easily spend a few hours in this very relaxing space.

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My room was fantastic. Japan is known for really small living spaces but not in Hoshinoya. The rooms are the perfect mix between modern and traditional. The bathroom has tainted glass that you can gradually darken for privacy. And the best surprise awaited me! Each room comes with a set of kimono. I was able to experience the real kimono, which was one of my dreams. As soon as i put on the kimono, everything felt different: serene, and more peaceful i would say.

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Hoshinoya has activities along the day and one of them is to learn how to traditionally wear the kimono. I was glad to be taught how to dress perfectly, with a beautiful bow either in front or in the back. tough choice! 🙂

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Among other activities, i tried the tea ceremony which was very impressive. I love matcha tea so much, and it was hypnotising to watch the traditional process of making and drinking it: a real ART.

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The Sake tasting was something as well, along with an amazing performance by a juggler artist in the pure Japanese tradition… fun times. Of course delicious seasonal sake.

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I tried the relaxing breathing class as well for a better sleep. I recommend especially with the jet lag.

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The Onsen is THE MOST memorable experience of my journey at Hoshinoya. This Japanese traditional hot bath is located on the top floor of the building. It’s open from 3pm til 11am, and men and women are separated. I tried it immediately on the first night…. it was magical. At first i was a bit lost, as it really is a specific procedure; You have to wash yourself carefully before easing yourself into the 41 degrees hot springs. Once in the saline water i felt a deep vitality. The onsen has an open roof, which makes it surreal, especially at night, with its soft breeze blowing through… I spent a moment starring at the mysterious sky. Definitely a rejuvenating and refreshing experience.

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Oh, and, last but not least the Breakfast! Wow ! Nothing like you’ve experienced before. it happens in your room and when I say it happens, it really does. Hoshinoya staff don’t just serve your breakfast in your room, they bring a wooden table and accessories, all to make your experience even more memorable. You can choose Traditional or Western style breakfast, and let’s be honest, neither one or the other is what you expect. You are experiencing the delicate and rich japanese cuisine. Absolutely delightful!

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Hoshinoya is not just another luxury hotel. The importance of each little detail is what gives Hoshinoya its prestige. It is the best way to experience Japanese refinement and a delightful escape from the craziness of Tokyo. I would definitely recommend to stay at Hoshinoya if you plan a trip to Tokyo.

Arigato Gozaimas Hoshinoya!FH010004

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