A clever Tokyo hotel stacks traditional inns one on top of the other
Could this really be the weirdest hotel in Japan? Externally it’s nothing special – just another stylish high-rise reminder of why Australians visit a metropolis considering itself the most hi-tech capital city on earth.
Daring architecture – such as reach-for-the-sky buildings that seem about to topple but don’t – is itself a Tokyo attraction. Add to the mix food, shopping, night life, historic temples and palaces, cultural icons and quirkiness – all of this makes Tokyo so distinctively Japanese.
Japan is “hot”. Nearly 450,000 Australians visited last year, up a whopping 47.1 per cent from two years earlier. And many of them consider staying in a ryokan (traditional inn). The ryokan – the closest western equivalent is a B&B – originated more than 300 years ago, serving travellers along then-bumpy highways. They typically feature rooms with tatami mats and rice-paper walls. Often family-run, they encourage guests to wander through public areas in yukatas (lightweight cotton kimonos worn as bathrobes). Some have onsite communal onsen baths (for soaking not washing). They’re mostly small, occupying Japanese-style lowrises (often houses).
But high prices sometimes force would-be Tokyo ryokan guests to dump the idea. Demand is such that some room rates even exceed those at five-star hotels. Mind you, although prices are high so are standards.
But one Tokyo property owner had a brainwave: a high-rise up-market hotel styled as a ryokan. The result is