1/31/20

Iya Onsen - Shikoku's Hidden Gem

Iya Onsen - Shikoku's Hidden Gem




Have you ever heard of the Iya Valley? This beautiful secluded valley, located in the heart of the island of Shikoku, is famous for its stunning nature, deep rocky gorges, ancient vine bridges, and many hot springs. This is truly a hidden gem and a perfect place if you want to relax surrounded by nature. I wholeheartedly recommend that you visit this place, and if you do, make sure to book a stay at the amazing Iya Onsen located there.




This great onsen has a location that is great both for enjoying the spectacular views of surrounding nature and for exploring many nearby attractions. Iya Onsen can be easily accessed from the Oboke station by a shuttle bus offered for free to the customers of the onsen who arrive by train there.





As you might have guessed it by its name, one of Iya Onsen's best features are its hot baths. The open-air hot baths are located at the bottom of the valley and accessed by a cable car from the hotel. The ride itself is amazing, but the best part is the hot baths themselves. There are three hot baths in total, two of which are swapped every other day between male and female, and a third private compartment which you need to reserve in advance. The hot spring water is free-flowing straight from the source, which is shown by the white mineral deposits floating in the bath making the water cloudy. This onsen is probably one of the most impressive ones I ever saw. That is mostly thanks to its great location at the bottom of a steep valley right next to the river. Also, there is an indoor hot bath at the hotel which you can use if you feel like it.



The rooms at the Iya Onsen are of high quality and great design that you would expect from a hotel like this one. Amenities include LDC TVs, high-quality BOSE audio players, massage chairs, free Wi-Fi, refrigerator, hairdryer, telephone, safe, toiletries, and other essential stuff. There are even yukata robes included. Most of the rooms have breathtaking views of the mountains and the valley, and some include open-air baths and even a foot bath. I really recommend that you get one of these premium rooms if you can. 



Breakfast and dinner can also be served here for you, and both are of high quality. Breakfast can be traditional Japanese, Western-style, or you can go to a breakfast buffet. For dinner I recommend you try one of the delicious traditional Kaiseki courses, to get the taste of traditional prepared local ingredients. Iya's local cuisine is grown and prepared by people who carry on their local heritage, including Genpei Imo potatoes which can only be found locally, thick and meaty shiitake mushrooms, wild mountain vegetables, buckwheat (soba) noodles, and local Iya tofu.



There are many amazing places you can visit in the Iya Valley that are only a short trip away from the Iya Onsen. First is the statue of the Peeing Boy which takes about 5 minutes on foot. Also, the famous vine bridge over the river is only 15 minutes by car, and the Hi-no-Ji “ひ” Valley is even closer. A few more famous locations you can visit in less than an hour by car are the Oboke Gorge, Ochiai Village, and the Double Vine Bridges in Oku-Iya. The Oboke Gorge was made over many years by the movement of the water wearing down the sandstone. See rock formations made of crystalline schist, a nationally designated natural monument, up close from the pleasure boat. Two vine bridges are located upstream on the Iya River. The two bridges made of vines are called the Men's Bridge and the Women's Bridge. The surrounding area is a panorama of natural beauty in every season. If you enjoy climbing mountains, Mt.Tsurugi is located about an hour and half from the hotel. At a height of 1995 meters, the peak offers an unparalleled view of a mystical sea of clouds, with the Kii Peninsula, Seto Inland Sea, and Ashizuri Peninsula in the distance. It has been known as a holy place for mountain worship since ancient times.
If you like what you see here, make sure to check out the website of Iya Onsen to learn more and book a stay here!


1/28/20

Kaneyoshi Ryokan - Ryokan in Downtown Osaka

Kaneyoshi Ryokan - Ryokan in Downtown Osaka





Are you planning a trip to the Kansai region? If you are, you are probably looking for a good and affordable place to stay which will enable you to easily visit all the interesting places in the area. One such hotel is the Kaneyoshi Ryokan; an urban-style affordable ryokan located in downtown Osaka, more specifically, in the famous Dotombori district. Kaneyoshi Ryokan enables you to conveniently explore this huge city and the whole Kansai region, while simultaneously having the luxury of staying in a traditional Japanese style rooms. The location is absolutely perfect as it enables you both great access to public transport, and gives you the opportunity to explore Dotombori on foot easily. There are many famous gourmet destinations located around the ryokan. Walking around the town and trying local gourmet food is one of the most enjoyable ways to explore Osaka. Food lovers will also like the fact that the Kuromon Market is located nearby. This famous market deals with a great variety of food including fish, meat, vegetables, and fruits. We could even say that the market supports all of the kitchens in Osaka. The market is also popular among foreign tourists. The location is very easy to find with lots of restaurants in the area. 



The rooms are traditional Ryokan style and provide traditional Japanese rooms with tatami flooring and futon bedding. These Japanese-style guest rooms offer a relaxing atmosphere and great views of the Dotombori riverside and canal. Amenities such as air conditioner, modular bath & bidet toilet, yukata, towels, bath towel, shampoo, conditioner,  tea set, television, telephone (in-house only), alarm clock, hairdryer are included. Also, the staff is really friendly and will help you with any issues you might have.



The hotel includes a large public bath where you can soothe away your travel fatigue in a traditional Japanese-style bath and stretch your legs and relax in the warm water. For me, it is perfect after a long day of sightseeing. This communal bath is open from 6 to 8 in the morning and 16 to midnight.  The front desk offers free luggage storage. An internet PC can be used in the lobby for free. Keep in mind that you leave your key with the front desk whenever you leave, and the front desks closes at 1 AM.



Kaneyoshi Ryokan offers Japanese-style breakfast which consists of dishes of fish and eggs, delicious rice, and miso soup. This tasty breakfast is served in the banquet hall and will give you strength for all-day sightseeing. Dinner is also offered and it is an elegant multi-course kaiseki meal served in your room or the dining hall.



Kaneyoshi Ryokan is located a 5-minute walk from downtown area Dotonbori, and a 10-minute drive from Tsutenkaku Tower. It is an hour away from Kansai International Airport by bus or train so it is easily accessible. The staff is extremely friendly and always happy to help and explain everything. The front desk is always tidy and ready for accepting guests. Various brochures and flyers are available and are useful for your stay while in Osaka.



This is certainly one of the most affordable and best Japanese-style hotels in Osaka. If you enjoy what you see here, I suggest that you visit their website and learn more about them.

1/13/20

Nishiyama Ryokan - Traditional hotel in Kyoto

 Nishiyama Ryokan - Traditional hotel in Kyoto

 




If you are a fan of Japan and Japanese culture, you will surely like to visit Kyoto at least once. When you decide to visit this beautiful city full of ancient buildings and monuments, I suggest that you book a stay in a traditional style hotel; a ryokan. One such place, located in the center of Kyoto, is the Nishiyama Ryokan. This small and affordable Japanese style hotel, know for its excellent hospitality and friendly staff, will welcome you with open arms. There are so many interesting things about this ryokan that make it stand out from the rest. First of all, its location is perfect. It is located in the central Kyoto area very close to the Kyoto Imperial Palace. There are many small restaurants and shops in the area that you can check out, all within a few minutes walk.    It is also conveniently located close to the Kyoto Shiyakusyo-mae subway station and several bus stops, which makes it easy to reach all the important spots in the city. One more thing that I really like about Nishiyama Ryokan is the fact that they are holding free Japanese Culture events like Tea Ceremony, Koto Concert, Calligraphy lessons, and workshops in their lobby almost every Friday. This is truly amazing since these events let you experience Japanese culture in the best possible way for free.


Nishiyama Ryokan offers several different room types, from authentic Japanese style rooms to spacious western-style family rooms. These rooms are quite cozy and have all you need during your stay there. The rooms are air-conditioned, have comfortable traditional futons, LCD TV, an attached bathroom, provided toiletries, and even yukata robes. They are also known for being extreme clean and well cared for. Also, if you have any issues, the friendly staff is eager to help in any way they can.


Nishiyama Ryokan features a nice traditional garden which is ideal if you want to relax from the rush of sightseeing all day. In the garden there is a beautiful clear-water pond and a wide variety of colorful flowers and greenery. One more thing that you can enjoy in this ryokan is a public bath with a natural waterfall. Keep in mind that men and women have separate bathing areas. I personally love to go to the hot bath after walking all day and just relax for an hour.



 After that, I love to grab a nice dinner, especially a traditional Japanese one. If you enjoy the same thing, you will be glad to hear that at Nishiyama Ryokan you can enjoy a wide variety of traditional Japanese meals made by an experienced Japanese chef. One of the meals that you can enjoy here is traditional Japanese Kaiseki cuisine, prepared with the freshest of seasonal ingredients for dinner with flavors matching the current season. One more good meal is the Japanese style breakfast which includes Yudofu "Boiled tofu", grilled fish, Japanese omelet, vegetables, Miso soup, and rice. Western-style meals can also be prepared if you desire, but I suggest that you try the amazing traditional meals offered here; you won't regret it I promise.


In the end, I have to say that I am satisfied with the things Nishiyama Ryokan offers and I suggest that you visit their website and learn more about them if you are looking for an affordable and good ryokan in Kyoto.


12/17/19

Candeo Hotels Tokyo Roppongi - Skyspa & Breakfast

Candeo Hotels Tokyo Roppongi - Skyspa & Breakfast




If you have been following my blog, you probably know that I stayed at the fabulous Candeo Hotels Tokyo Roppongi during my last trip across Japan. However, if this is the first time you're reading my blog, I will give you a quick rundown. This September, I went on a trip across Japan to showcases as many cool things and places as I can to my followers. Because of this, I also stayed at many different hotels all across Japan. One of these is called Candeo Hotels Tokyo Roppongi and it is located at the heart of Tokyo's entertainment district called Roppongi. I was especially looking forward to staying at this hotel since I haven't experienced any of the famous Japanese nightlife so far during this trip, and this was a perfect opportunity to do so since the hotel is located only a short walk away from many famous clubs and bars. I was satisfied with this hotel and the room in which I stayed, and I have to say that I will definitely consider it as an option when I go here again. However, the room and the location of the hotel are great but are not its best features. These things, in my opinion, are the fabulous Skyspa located at the very top of the hotel, and the Candeo Hotels Tokyo Roppongi's famous breakfast buffet, which offers a huge amount of different dishes and beverage for you to enjoy each morning.

Skyspa



The Skyspa, as I already said, is located on the top floor of the hotel and contains two separate baths, one for men and one for women. Each bath consists of a dressing room, an area where you clean yourself, a sauna, and an outdoor and an indoor bath. Keep in mind that the male bath has a dry sauna and the female bath has a misty sauna. Also, the male bath has a cold bath as well. One more thing to note is the fact that the spa is free to use for all guests of the hotel. However, guests with tattoos are not permitted to use the Skyspa.  



Since the Skyspa is located so high, you can catch glimpses of buildings all around you making you feel like you are bathing among the clouds. This Skyspa is a huge perk in my opinion as it enables you to relax after a fun but usually exhausting night out. I felt so good each time that I used it, especially when afterward I would have a big and delicious breakfast they offer here.



Breakfast


The breakfast is served at the restaurant located on the lobby floor of the hotel and is available for the guests of the hotel from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. There's a huge amount of different dishes to try, both Japanese and western. The things I enjoyed the most were cereals, different types of cheese and ham, croissants, eggs, and salmon salad. But there are so many more dishes to try and it would be hard to name them all here. Check the photos so you can get the impression of the wide variety of selection you have there.



My stay here was a pleasurable experience and I will be looking forward to staying at Candeo Hotels again. I strongly recommend that you check out their website and learn more about this hotel. You won't regret it.

12/14/19

Hotel New Otani Tokyo Dining

Hotel New Otani Tokyo Dining




If you have been following my blog posts lately, you probably know that I was in Tokyo recently and stayed at the prestigious Hotel New Otani Tokyo in central Tokyo. As I already said in my previous post, this is a large and luxurious hotel, which has many great things to offer apart from its amazing guest rooms. The hotel itself encompasses three buildings and these are the New Otani Garden Court, New Otani Garden Tower, and the Main in which I had the pleasure of staying. These three buildings house a large selection of fine restaurants, nice bars, and classy lounge. In fact, there are 38 restaurants, 18 of which are hotel restaurants, and 20 which are tenant restaurants.



Since I was there only for a few days, I did not have the time to try many of them, but those that I did have the chance to visit, I really loved. The first one was a buffet restaurant called "Satsuki" located on the lobby floor of the main building. Since I was guest of the hotel I had received coupons for complimentary breakfast for each day of my stay there, so I visited this fine establishment a few times. I am a really big fan of buffet-style restaurants, so as you might have guessed, this was a big treat for me. I sat aside an hour and a half each morning just to enjoy this amazing breakfast at a relaxing pace. Both Japanese and western food is offered here and both are equally good. I especially enjoyed the freshly prepared omelets with ham, cheese, and mushrooms. The food was so good there that it was really hard to stop eating, especially since there were so many options there and I wanted to try as many different dishes as I could.



Even though I had a healthy breakfast and some snacks during the day, by the time I had returned to the hotel, I was already very hungry. I headed to the "View & Dining The Sky" buffet restaurant on the top of the hotel to have a nice dinner and enjoy the 360-degree view of the city that this restaurant is famous for.




Another place where I would have breakfast while I was there was the Garden Lounge which is also located on the lobby floor of the hotel. There I was able to enjoy another tasty buffet breakfast, but this time with a spectacular view of the Japanese garden that this hotel is famous for. À la carte items that are available there include sandwiches, pasta, soup and salads, with drinks and light meals offered during cocktail hours.



On my last day there, I went to "Trader Vic's", a nice restaurant decorated in the South Pacific style. There you can enjoy specialties such as smoked meat, fish and fowl.



There are so many things that you can do in this hotel, and you will need to stay here for many days to be able to experience all of them. That is why I will be returning to this hotel for sure on my next trip across Japan. I strongly suggest to all of you that you check out their website and learn more about the prestigious Hotel New Otani Tokyo.

12/11/19

THE GATE HOTEL Kaminarimon - Restaurant & Bar

THE GATE HOTEL Kaminarimon - Restaurant & Bar



If you have been following my blog, you probably know that I stayed in THE GATE HOTEL Kaminarimon during my trip to Japan this September. I already talked about all the things this hotel has to offer, but here's a quick rundown in case you missed my previous posts. THE GATE HOTEL Kaminarimon is a modern, stylish and affordable hotel located in Tokyo historic Asakusa District. You probably heard of Asakusa since it is a famous tourist destination thanks to attractions such as the Sensoji temple and the nearby Tokyo Skytree. It is also a popular nightlife area thanks to places such as the Hoppy Street where you can get drinks and delicious meals during the whole day in one of its many izakayas and bars. Now back to the hotel. My room was, as it is already explained in a previous post, an Essential Twin type room located on the 9th floor. It had everything I would expect from a hotel of this type and I was very satisfied with it. But this hotel has several more things to offer besides the room you stay in.



First is the "R Restaurant & Bar" located on the 13th floor of the hotel. It opens for business in 6 in the morning and is open until midnight. However, the guests of the hotel can use it 24-hours a day. In the morning the restaurant offers a breakfast buffet, which I absolutely loved. I could eat a wide variety of meals all the while enjoying the nice view of Asakusa and especially the beautiful Tokyo Skytree. When I arrived there for breakfast, I was escorted to my table by the kind staff members. They offered me some coffee and tea and asked me what shall I order as my main meal. I had the option of several meals such as an egg benedict or curry benedict, but I choose a French toast since that is one of my favorite meals. 



Before the main meal arrived, I went to the buffet table and grabbed some cereals as well as scooped some tasty honey beautifully arranged inside a honeycomb. That was a really delicious meal after which I grab some salad and potatoes to eat with my main meal. Also, I have to complement the amazing orange juice which was freshly squeezed right in front of me.
Besides the breakfast, this restaurant also offers lunch and dinner courses with a wide variety of meal options. It also has a terrace so you can enjoy your meal on a fresh air.




On the roof of the hotel there is a bar called "B Bar", which is an exclusive private area for the guests of the hotel and is open in the evening. There you can enjoy a wide variety of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. It was very relaxing to enjoy a nice drink while observing the night-time view of the Tokyo Skytree and the surrounding buildings. There's a terrace there as well, but unfortunately, it was raining while I was there so I did not have the chance to experience it fully.




In the end, I have to say that THE GATE HOTEL Kaminarimon is a great and affordable hotel which I wholeheartedly recommend you to check out if you're planning on visiting this part of Tokyo. You will not be disappointed.




12/8/19

Yokohama Bay Sheraton Hotel & Towers Dining

Yokohama Bay Sheraton Hotel & Towers Dining



If you have been following my blog recently, you are surely aware that I have recently visited Yokohama as a part of my trip across Japan, and that I stayed at the great Yokohama Bay Sheraton Hotel & Towers. Sheraton brand is known worldwide for the high quality of service they offer, so as you might have guessed it, I loved every minute of my stay there. However, I didn't only enjoy the luxurious room in which I stayed, but I also had the luck to eat at some amazing restaurants they have there and to grab a few good dring in the lounges and bars there.



Ko-No-Hana -Traditional Japanese Restaurant

Since I am a big fan of Japanese culture and history, I always jump at the opportunity to experience the traditional side of Japan. That is why I decided to go for a dinner to Ko-No-Hana, a traditional Japanese restaurant located on the 8th floor of the hotel, and if you like similar things, I suggest you check it out. There you can feast on carefully prepared and beautifully presented the traditional Japanese full-course meals while enjoying the view of the amazing Japanese garden that they have there. As the seasons change, so does the garden and the meals offered there since they are made from fresh seasonal ingredients. 




As I said, the dinner was a full course traditional Japanese dinner and included meals such as shrimp, sashimi, mushroom soup, tofu, rice, eel, soybean paste, and many more fantastic dishes, some of which I had never tried before in my life. The meal I had in that restaurant was probably one of the best meals during my whole trip across Japan. I especially love the way it was presented, and the professional attitude of the staff there. I recommend that if you visit this hotel, you definitely grab a dinner here. You will surely enjoy the authentic taste of Japan that is offered here.




Sheraton Club Lounge


Sheraton Club Lounge is another place in this hotel where I enjoyed spending my time and enjoying the great view of the city. It is exclusive for the guests of the club Sheraton floors who can enjoy everything there for free, and it is open for almost the whole day from 6 in the morning to 10 in the evening. In the morning I enjoyed my breakfast there with the entire Yokohama at my fingertips. During the rest of the day, you can come there to relax and get a cup of coffee or some nice tea and snacks. In the evening there is a cocktail hour where you can drink a wide variety of both alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks such as cocktails, wine, beer, whiskey, and many others. I have to say that it feels so good to drink quality whiskey while enjoying the night-time view of the city.



These are only some of the many great things Yokohama Bay Sheraton Hotel & Towers offers to its visitors. Check out my other blog posts and the website of the hotel as well. It was truly an amazing place to stay at and I will come there again one day for sure.