My wife, who is Japanese and knows a thing or two, considered this a terrible experience, and wanted to rate it as such with one star. I was not as put off by the pretentiousness, but found the food mediocre, so would have given three stars. We've settled for two stars on the basis that although the location is indeed lovely, the cost far exceeds the quality of the overall experience.
My wife, who enjoys the little details, was offended more or less from the outset. On arrival we were seated in the lobby and served tea while signing in, but then forgotten. We were led to our room only after my wife asked if there was any reason for us to remain in the lobby. During a tour of the available baths, we were told we could only look from the outside, though each was empty and bathing was clearly the reason for our being there.
Once in our room, our guide told us that slippers were not provided so that we could enjoy the feeling of bare feet on the wooden floors. In fact, since our visit was in wintertime, the floors were cold and uncomfortable. The room had no central heating, had not been warmed prior to our arrival, so we had to use three space heaters to keep the barn-like room sufficiently warm throughout our visit. Similarly, we were encouraged to relax and forget the time, but given only two possible opportunities for dinner and breakfast (5:30 or 6pm, if I remember correctly, and 8 or 8:40am for breakfast). Etc, etc.
The main purpose of our visit was to bathe, and the wooden tub on the porch of our room was lovely and comfortable, as described in other reviews. The food was plentiful and fresh, but very moddish and not terribly interesting. The staff buzzed around us wearing telephone headsets, I suppose to let us know that they were at our beck and call. The pickles that we were told had been made for us by the owner's mother with the utmost care seemed to have come out of a package, but the fresh yogurt was delicious; a mixed experience, in other words.
Let me put it simply: had the evening cost $200 we'd probably have forgiven the eccentricities and given an average rating. At $475 PER PERSON, we departed feeling that we'd been duped. Whatever romance there was in the location was drained from the experience by a general sense of mediocrity. For example, we have subsequently read that the spring water here is boiled, not naturally hot, making this not really an onsen in the strictest sense of the word. Had we known that, we would never have considered spending so much on what is essentially just a well appointed bath.
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- Also Known As:
- Basaratei Shima, Japan - Mie