A land of contrasts, Japan provides an unparalleled tourist experience. Discover the kind of cutting-edge tech that feels lightning years ahead, side by side with a still very prevalent ancient culture and some downright weird attractions. Bathe in natural hot springs or see the cherry blossom in spring. Enjoy a meal at a robot restaurant and go to a vampire, cat or maid cafe. Peruse a parasite museum, have a go at sumo wrestling and ride in a real-life Mario Kart. The cities will astound you, while the rural areas will create the backdrop for a journey of self-discovery among astoundingly beautiful natural landscapes.
The Hilton places you just five minutes on foot from the Peace Park and ten minutes from the vibrant Heiwa-Odori district. Contemporary bedrooms and suites have views that include the Miyajima Islands, Ogonzan Mountains, the ocean and the city skyline and all offer the brand’s Sweet Dreams Sleep Experience (serenity beds, signature bedding, blackout blinds and pillow menus). Flexible workstations ensure the property is popular with business travellers. Plus you’ll find four stylishly designed places to eat and drink onsite: Flow Lounge, Sensui (for sushi, teppanyaki and kaiseki by a Michelin-starred chef), Mosaik and Zatta.
Sheraton Grand Hiroshima Hotel
Right beside the bullet train station and bus terminal, the Sheraton is handy for onward travel and sightseeing. It accommodates 238 bedrooms in a skyscraper building, where Western decor is fused with contemporary Japanese style; many floor-to-ceiling windows provide an airy feel and wood-clad walls create an inviting warmth. Guests can dine all day on a wide variety of dishes at Bridges, or on authentic national cuisine at Miyabi-Tei and indulge in some treatments, or go for a swim at its Shine Spa for Sheraton. Book a Club Suite for access to its treat-filled Club Lounge.
A highlight of this establishment are the onsen baths, filled with natural saltwater from hot springs that lie deep beneath its surface. Here you can soak in minerals as the warmth eases your muscles — both male and female bathing areas are provided, as well as yukata (robes). This is a 39 bedroom ryokan (typically Japanese) hotel, where guests can sleep either on beds or on traditional futons amongst minimalist surroundings. Additionally, there’s a full-service spa, a pretty garden, a terrace and the in-house restaurant, Mametanuki. Miyajima Kinsuikan is a top choice if you’d like to experience an authentic slice of Japanese life.
The Ritz-Carlton, Osaka
Following The Ritz-Carlton’s British heritage, this hotel has a distinctly Western feel. Pass the doormen wearing top hats and tails and you’ll enter a world of art (over 450 original pieces can be toured inside), cigar and whisky lounges, live piano music and centuries old antiques. Book a bedroom with views of the ocean, tatami mats or futons and an Italian marble bathroom and dine on award winning French, Italian, Chinese, or Japanese cuisine at one of its four restaurants. Its spa offers a range of detox and relaxation treatments, as well as a heated indoor pool, jacuzzis and outdoor hot tubs, steam rooms and saunas.
Rising from between the Dojima and Tosabori rivers, the Conrad’s home (Nakanoshima Festival West Tower) soars upwards, affording its inhabitants some impressive vistas. Service is tailored and room controls are all digital (even the drapes), for a thoroughly modern experience surrounded by classic comforts; USB ports, speakers, espresso machines and multi-language alarm clocks are all available in your bedroom or suite. The Conrad in Osaka has six swish dining options, including a skybar, a grill specialising in crustaceans such as Alaskan king crabs, a “food library” and a sleek 40th floor teppanyaki eatery. Visit the spa for detoxifying baths, facials, body therapies and massages inspired by ancient rituals.
The St. Regis Osaka
Osaka’s answer to the Champs Elysées, the solubrious Midosuji is the setting for the St Regis property. Each of its 160 bedrooms features Japanese-style bathtubs, Remède bath products, a curated selection of art and ceramics, Kyoto silks and headboards crafted from Kawashima silk. Guests staying here receive the hallmark brand butler service and can experience French flair in a Japanese city – the hotel has a boulangerie and two French restaurants, along with an Italian eatery and a teppanyaki grill. And when it comes to the first meal of the day, you can opt for an American spread, or a traditional Japanese breakfast.
The striking jet black reflective facade of the W hotel (designed by the city’s own world-renowned architect Tadao Ando) sets it apart on the horizon. But inside is a very different story, with bold pinks, blues and purples found throughout. It’s located on Midosuji Boulevard and welcomes guests with a giant uplit W sign made up of chrome balls. An indoor glowing infinity pool adjoins a bar and lounge with DJ beats creating a sophisticated party vibe. The living room and restaurant are separated by a white flowing curtain, creating a sense of cohesion yet separating the function of the spaces.
InterContinental Osaka, an IHG Hotel
Pay a visit to the InterContinental for some Michelin starred cuisine at the Pierre restaurant or for some time soaking in the waters of its traditional bathhouse. Then stay awhile in one of the 272 bedrooms with a Bose sound system and Nespresso machine, or for an extended period, check into a multiple bedroom residence. The hotel also has an indoor swimming pool, a jet bath and a sauna, with immersive spa treatments and holistic packages, as well as further eateries; Noka Roast and Grill, the 3-60, Adee and the Stressed Patisserie.
Garrya Nijo Castle Kyoto
This secluded retreat was opened by The Banyan Tree Group in 2020, accommodating 25 balconied bedrooms. It faces Nijo-Jo Castle and features interior architecture in a flying geese formation, taking its cue from the castle and Katsura Imperial Villa. The interior design is by the world-renowned Yukio Hashimoto; here the outside is drawn in, with picture windows emphasising its lush garden surroundings; greenery, planting and a calming water feature akin to a serene mini lake with a tree island at its centre. Garrya Nijo Castle Kyoto also accommodates the Singular restaurant serving French cuisine, a kitchen and a well-being lounge.
dhawa Yura Kyoto
Within walking distance of attractions, this boutique hotel is ideally located close to the Kamo River. Antique and old-world pieces are woven among contemporary furnishings to tell the story of the area’s heritage and showcase traditional Japanese crafts. Grill 54th is the all-day dining venue with an open kitchen cooking up rare Wagyu beef, seafood and local specialities. While 1867 is the lounge bar offering afternoon tea, modern cocktails and pre-dinner drinks. Dhawa Yura also has a 24-hour gym and bedrooms ranging from doubles through to king or twin suites with C.O. Bigelow amenities.
THE HOTEL HIGASHIYAMA by Kyoto Tokyu Hotel
Opened in July 2022, this new five-star hotel is just a few minute’s walk from the subway in an artsy neighbourhood of Kyoto, a prime spot. It provides a sensorial experience of Japanese culture and exudes omotenashi hospitality. 168 rooms are spread across its six floors, in a moody, sophisticated and enveloping design that echoes traditional elements, with warm modern sensibilities and natural textures. The Hotel Higashiyama has a restaurant, a cafe, fitness centre, a bar, a spa and a tranquil garden that’s set within the inner courtyard of the hotel.
Four Seasons Kyoto
Be wowed by the incredible and ancient grounds of the Four Season Kyoto set amongst the ancient and scenic temple district. The hotel sits at the heart of the 800-year-old Shakusuien, a beautiful pond garden thought to have once been the garden of samurai Taira no Shigemori. The garden is so incredible it was immortalized in a 12th-century poem “The Tale of Heike”. The hotel itself is contemporary but rooted firmly in tradition, history and natural beauty. Décor is simple, elegant, and exudes typical Japanese minimalism. Rooms are tranquil, functional and bathed in natural light, some with peaceful garden views – a truly restorative view to wake up to. The hotel also features a stunning Michelin-starred Edo-style sushi restaurant, Sushi Wakon, and a great spa with a menu full of ancient healing rituals. The Four Seasons also offers a whole host of traditional experiences including the opportunity to experience the enigmatic charm of traditional Geishas at a kaiseki (multi-course) dinner featuring performances from the talented artisans, taking part in a traditional tea ceremony conducted by a tea master, and learning the art of making your own chibi-maru lantern with a 10th generation Kojima master.
The Westin Miyako Kyoto
Set amongst the Higashiyama Hills the Westin Miyako Kyoto boasts a stunning outlook over the ancient capital. The hotel is ideally located between the two main sight-seeing districts of the city and is one of the oldest Western-style hotels in Kyoto. Popular with visiting famous faces, many of the rooms enjoy stunning vistas as far as the Kitayama Mountains and are decorated simply and functionally. Style may not be at the forefront of this hotel and many aspects of it are still very traditional, but service and facilities are top notch here. The hotel boasts the more casual Aquablu Café restaurant in addition to their Grandview dining room, which from the name you can guess, serves creative continental cuisine whilst enjoying an incredible aspect over the city. At the Westin Miyako you really will be spoilt for choice with facilities. The hotel has multiple boutiques, a tranquil Japanese garden, a business centre, a fitness centre, a hair and beauty salon, plus an in-house florist!
The Ritz-Carlton, Kyoto
A name synonymous with luxury the Ritz Carlton Kyoto is situated on the Kamogawa River with views out over the Higashiyama mountains. 134 rooms and suites, the hotel takes on the Japanese motifs of Kyoto and includes four restaurants and bars including modern Japanese cuisine and a spa for the ultimate rejuvenation.
Suiran A Luxury Collection Hotel, Kyoto
Part of the Luxury Collection group and set on the Hozu River. This is boutique luxury, with only 39 guest rooms. Feel at one with nature at this out of town retreat. Japanese in style and design you can completely relax after a day of sightseeing in central Kyoto.
Hyatt Regency Kyoto
The Hyatt Regency is located in the city centre of Kyoto in the historic area of Higashiyama Shichijo. It is close to the central JR Kyoto Station with is perfect if you are short on time in the city and looking for an area rich in culture, history and food during your stay.
Hotel Granvia Kyoto
Located in the JR Kyoto station complex you really are in the heart of everything. Ideal for people looking to hit the ground running and get out and explore. If you want to shop there is a gigantic mall connected to the station as well and it is convenient for the Shinkansen bullet train.
Food lovers who are looking for an elegant place to stay while spending time in Tokyo are sure to love the Mandarin Oriental. Set in the Nihonbashi district, guests are treated to the choice of 178 rooms that are decorated with charming cherry blossom motifs. The establishment really excels when it comes to its dining options and there are twelve different restaurants to choose from in total, three of which boast Michelin stars. The theatrical performances in the Tapas Molecular Bar always attracts crowds, while Sense offers some of the best Cantonese cuisine in the whole of Japan.
Prince Gallery Kiocho
As one of the newest luxury hotels to grace the Tokyo skyline, Prince Gallery Kiocho boasts a contemporary style and plenty of artistic touches scattered throughout its 26 storeys. For optimum luxury, guests will want to choose one of the eleven spacious suites that can be found on one of the upper floors, where they will be treated to impressive views of the city from the huge picture windows, while the hotels’ Washoku Souten restaurant is the perfect place to sample traditional Japanese cuisine in a contemporary setting.
Perched at the top of the highest building in the whole of Tokyo, guests at the Ritz Carlton can be sure that they will be treated to stunning views. People who insist on nothing but the best will want to make sure that they secure one of the two Modern Japanese Suites. These stylish suites are set with tatami mats and plush futon bedding, while traditional shoji panels frame an unforgettable view of the iconic Tokyo Tower.
The Peninsula Tokyo
Boasting some of the most spacious and luxurious guestrooms in the whole of Tokyo, the Peninsula features 24 storeys and towers over the city. Taking in the panoramic views of the city from the hotel’s rooftop is an experience that should not be missed, while the Peninsula is also famous for its afternoon teas. Guests can also dine in style while taking in the sights of Tokyo from the top floor Peter restaurant. Each of the guestrooms is designed to combine traditional charm with modern luxurious and guests are treated to a number of excellent modern conveniences including nail driers.
With splashes of bright red in the modern sculptures and paintings, Conrad Tokyo features a playful tone that provides luxury lovers with a warm welcome. Set in the very heart of the business district of Shiodome, the hotel boasts excellent business facilities for guests to take advantage of. Looking over both the lush tropical Hamarikyu Garden and Tokyo Bay, this establishment boasts some of the best views in the whole city. The guestrooms here are very spacious and airy and decorated in light neutral tones that help to create the feeling of even more space. Floor-to-ceiling windows also provide guests with excellent city views, while the free freestanding bathtubs allow guests to scrub up while admiring the city around them.
Shangri La Tokyo
Set within easy walking distance from Tokyo Station, the Shangri La Tokyo welcomes both business travellers and tourists who have a love for the finer things in life. Everything here presents guests with nothing but the best, from the furnishings and toiletries is the guestrooms to the impressive dining options. The guestrooms that are part of the Horizon Club Executive Suites are among the most spacious in the whole of Tokyo and come complete with stylish living areas, light-filled window-side bathrooms and gorgeous corner views across the city.
Park Hyatt Tokyo
Famous as starring in the film Lost in Translation with Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson, the Park Hyatt Tokyo has become a bit of an institution among luxury lovers over the years. For people who have seen the film, the hotel’s elegant guestrooms, lounge and business centre will need little introduction. The large indoor swimming pool is a popular place for guests to unwind while splashing around or enjoying a cocktail or two. Guests will want to make sure that they secure a room that faces Mount Fuji.