This hotel has a stunning location – in Nara Park, on a hill overlooking a lake, with trees all around, and a view of the famous Five-Storey Pagoda. The main building, built in 1909 in a mixed-Japanese-European style, oozes history, charm and old-fashioned elegance. The vast majority of the guests are Japanese, and at times, with its un-remodeled, un-hip beauty, the hotel seems like a time capsule of Japanese travel before the age of mass tourism.
Breakfast is served in the hotel’s gorgeous main dining room, Mikasa. And if you stay at the Nara Hotel, you should really go all the way and eat dinner once at Mikasa. We have a review of Mikasa on Trip Advisor under Nara restaurants.
With all these pluses, though, come some minuses. We took everyone’s advice and booked a room in the main building. (There’s also a new building, built in 1984, which everyone, including the hotel’s own employees, say is a far step down from the 1909 main building.) Our “standard twin” turned out to be quite small, the bathroom even smaller, the sink ridiculously low, and storage space hard to come by. We want to go back to the Nara Hotel again, but if we can afford it, we’ll try for a larger “deluxe” room.
The staff at the front desk is sweet and well-meaning, and there’s always someone on duty with passable English. On the other hand, level of service is not what you get in a top international hotel. (We came to the Nara Hotel directly from the Hyatt Regency Kyoto, a move that underlined the difference.) For example, if you want a taxi, there are no cabs waiting at the hotel; the staff has to call, and it takes a few minutes for the cab to arrive.
Oddly enough, despite its old-fashioned looks, the Nara Hotel has excellent free wi-fi in every room.
The Nara Hotel is not a wallow-in-luxury type of place, but it’s something even better: full of character, one of a kind.
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