Photography by Yoko Taguchi
Quiet calm cloaks the Noborioji Hotel Nara as guests awaken each morning to the grandeur of the adjacent Kofukuji temple grounds, partially screened by greenery. This is what it’s all about: true relaxation far from everyday routines. There’s no place better than Nara to contemplate the stream of history, and the hotel is a particularly pleasant place to slip into the mellow flow of time.
Rivaling Kyoto in historical and cultural importance, Nara has been a center of Japanese Buddhism and culture since the eighth century, when it became the seat of Japan’s emperors. Here Noborioji Hotel opened in 2008 providing impressive European-style accommodations for adults. Located on the city’s main street, the hotel is just a 3-minute walk from Kintetsu Nara Station and a short stroll from many top attractions including Nara Park. Yet an immediate sense of tranquility greets guests stepping into the lobby lounge-cum-library. Interiors are tastefully decorated with abundant touches of wood and luxury furnishings—every detail is considered for guest comforts.
Each of the 14 guest rooms is like a small home away from home. In 2010 Noborioji Hotel was approved for membership in Small Luxury Hotels of the World, a group noted for exacting standards. Michelin has awarded the hotel its top rating for six consecutive years. The reception staff offers complete concierge services to help guests arrange activities, from viewing seasonal favorites like the autumn colors in Nara Park, the annual March Shuni-e ceremony at Todaiji, and the hydrangea blossoms in early summer, to attending early-morning prayers at Kasuga Grand Shrine, hand-copying sutras at Todaiji, and touring by bicycle. Only about 40 minutes from both Kyoto and Osaka by train, Nara is also a convenient base for day trips.
The hotel’s restaurant, Le Bois, boasts an outstanding menu based on classical French cuisine with traditional produce of Nara prefecture. Seasonal specialties, changed monthly, draw discerning locals as Le Bois is also open to drop-in guests.
Through a door at the back of the lobby awaits a hidden gem. The Bar, with its sumptuous counter of Japanese timber, has a highly reputed drink selection, including rare examples of Japanese brewers’ and distillers’ arts such as whisky and crafted gin (the main attraction for some visiting the Noborioji). The Bar and Le Bois regularly host events for lovers of food, liquor, and music. In a refined salonlike setting, guests from near and far have formed new friendships.
40-1 Noborioji-cho, Nara City, Nara
Check-in from 3 PM, check-out by noon
Standard room ￥80,000
Rates are per room for double occupancy, excluding meals
Please note: To preserve a relaxing environment, all guests must be at least
12 years old. The hotel is closed irregularly for maintenance.
Find out more on many other choice accommodations all over Japan
in the Autumn / Winter Issue 2019.