The first Ryokan-branded Nobu ho­tel opens in Mal­ibu, of­fer­ing a slice of Ja­pan within easy reach of LA, writes Natasha Dra­gun.

Signature Travel & Lifestyle - - Contents -

Zen-in­fused Eastern de­sign meets the am­bi­ence of coastal Cal­i­for­nia

A50-kilo­me­tre drive west of Los An­ge­les, the city of Mal­ibu is drip­ping with celebrity homes over­look­ing palm-stud­ded beaches. It’s quin­tes­sen­tial Cal­i­for­nia. But the mo­ment you step in­side new Nobu Ryokan, you’re trans­ported to an inn in Ky­oto.

While Nobu Hos­pi­tal­ity – co-owned by chef Nobu Mat­suhisa, Robert De Niro, Meir Teper and James Packer – has a num­ber of ho­tel and res­tau­rant in­vest­ments around the world, the 16-suite Mal­ibu prop­erty is the first with the ‘Ryokan’ la­bel. And un­like the rest of Cal­i­for­nia, you come here not to be seen. (Fit­tingly, the low-slung build­ing is a re­model of the 1950s Casa Mal­ibu Inn, also a hide­out for the rich and fa­mous.)

There’s no lobby; staff greet you at a pre­ar­ranged time, lead­ing you past pieces of Ge­orge Nakashima fur­ni­ture (cus­tom made), and through a Zen­like court­yard of stone foot­paths and wa­ter­falls, palms and trum­pet vines. It’s a calm­ing wel­come to the luxe, in­di­vid­u­ally de­signed rooms, five of them right on the high-tide line. Make note, this exclusive stretch is known as Bil­lion­aire’s Beach for good rea­son.

While rooms are unique in lay­out, there are com­mon themes: bath­rooms are styled on Ja­panese on­sen, with nat­u­ral light, Jerusalem lime­stone, hand­made teak soak­ing tubs and open show­ers; niceties in­clude bam­boo-fab­ric tow­els, cus­tom linen yukatas (robes) and Toto toi­lets. There are closet doors re­sem­bling

shoji screens, suede walls and plat­form Ploh feath­erbeds wrapped in 800-thread count Ani­chini Ital­ian sheets. There might be an open fire­place, pa­per lanterns or wrap­around bal­cony.

The Zen room doesn’t have views of the ocean, but it does come with a pri­vate med­i­ta­tion gar­den and tatami mat seat­ing, and then there’s the Rock­star room, with an out­door Ja­panese soak­ing tub where you can ogle Ma­rina Del Rey, or dol­phins and whales. The Yashinoki Suite takes things up a notch with Lorna Piana cash­mere robes, plus a mini-bar stocked with Mat­suhisa wines, Nobu sake and pre­mixed cock­tails.

While you can or­der room ser­vice and dishes from sur­round­ing restau­rants, there’s no on-site res­tau­rant, but who needs that when you have pri­or­ity seat­ing at the ad­ja­cent Nobu Mal­ibu res­tau­rant? noburyokan­mal­

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