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The Nara Hotel is One for Your Bucket List! Enjoy an Elegant Stay at Nara's Classic Accommodation

The Nara Hotel is One for Your Bucket List! Enjoy an Elegant Stay at Nara's Classic Accommodation

Date published: 9 November 2019
Last updated: 10 February 2021

The Nara Hotel was established in 1909 as a guest house for dignitaries. Its graceful architecture of that period has withstood the passage of time and is the defining spirit of its hospitality.

The main building, richly constructed from Japanese cypress, is in the Momoyama Goten palace-style giving it a classic appearance.

Treat yourself to a little extravagance on a trip into the past and spend some quality time in the ambiance of perfectly blended Japanese and western furnishings!

Table of Contents
  1. The Nara Hotel: Classical interiors steeped in history
  2. Each room has an antique air to it
  3. Enjoy Afternoon Tea Time in a classical setting
  4. Fine French cuisine in a historical dining room
  5. Enjoying a final meal at Nara Hotel before my journey ends

The Nara Hotel: Classical interiors steeped in history

In the ancient city of Nara, you can enjoy the beautiful scenery and visit world-renowned shrines and temples.

The Nara Hotel has provided hospitality to many VIPs during its long history in an elegant style that remains vibrant even after 100 years. The hotel has a main building and a newer annex; the former was designed by Tatsuno Kingo, who designed Tokyo Station.

Entering the main building, you are greeted by the imposing grand stairway and the elegantly crafted vaulted and coffered ceiling, taking you back in time to the Meiji Era.

▲Checking in. The front has an elegant simplicity that welcomes guests when they check in

The gorgeous decor in the Momoyama Goten style heightens the sense of elegance found everywhere. The ceiling is coffered, constructed of wood in a lattice-like pattern.

▲The atmosphere of the Sakura no Ma [Cherry Room] Lobby is chic and subdued. The solid furniture, paintings, ceiling and large windows give this space an open feeling.

The Heisei Grandfather Clock, which sits in the lobby, was added to commemorate the imperial enthronement of Emperor Heisei in 1990. Its soft sound of time slowly ticking away is the same as that heard by His Majesty when he visited.

▲The beautifully crafted grandfather clock. It is perfectly suited to such a prestigious hotel.

At the top of the grand stairway, there is a Japanese-style chandelier in the 9-meter high stairwell. The hanging lanterns of Kasuga Taisha [Kasuga Grand Shrine] were the inspiration for this unique chandelier. In 1983 Audrey Hepburn had a family photograph taken with it in the background.

▲ Beautifully sculpted steam heaters were installed throughout the main building in 1914 to commemorate the enthronement ceremony of Emperor Taisho. These remained in service until 2017 at which time they were sadly retired.

Now they remain as part of the classical decor, reminders of a bygone era. The views from the hotel of Nara Park and the five-storied pagoda in Kofukuji remind guests of the many attractions awaiting them in Nara.

Each room has an antique air to it

The high ceiling of the room I was shown gave it a spacious feeling and the fireplace had an elegant mantelpiece.

▲ Almost all of the guest rooms were outfitted with them. It seems that these were actually used until the early part of the Taisho Era.

The clean and comfortable beds and soft lighting created a very peaceful and relaxing mood. After a long trip they are a welcome way to relax and unwind. The rooms are truly lovely.

▲ A standard room with twin beds on the park side of the first floor of the main building (39,204 yen for two people, including tax)
▲The room key was delightfully retro.

There are also more luxurious rooms available such as the Park Side Deluxe Twin (prices start at 78,408 yen for two, including tax). The beds in this room appear to have Airweave mattress pads that are popular with so many.

▲ The open and bright Park Side Deluxe Twin room has many windows

Enjoy Afternoon Tea Time in a classical setting

There still being some time until dinner, visit the Tea Lounge on the first floor of the main building. The beautiful Tea Lounge in the main building is a blend of Japanese and Western styles with large windows offering an excellent view of the greenery outside.

Enjoy a cup of aromatic coffee or your favorite blend of tea with original cakes prepared by the patissier while sitting in the soft sunlight. Once you visit, you’ll not want to leave. This is a place where it is easy to forget about time.

Especially when gazing through the large floor-to-ceiling windows upon the scenery of this ancient capital that changes with each season. This place abounds with nature and you can actually hear the wind whispering through the trees and small birds chirping.

▲The Tea Lounge offers Ronnefeldt tea or herb tea starting at 1,069 yen and a cake set for 1,663 yen (tax included in both prices). Select a cake of your choice from the Seasonal Western Pasty which varies according to the season.

By the way, the Tea Lounge is also used as a bar at night. If you are in the mood to spend a quiet night in luxury, then order a colorful cocktail and take in the ambiance of the Meiji era while enjoying it at the bar perhaps with a night sweet prepared by the patissier.

▲The bar is open from 6:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. Original Nara Hotel cocktails start at 1,544 yen (including tax and service). It’s a rather special way to enjoy the night.

The bar may seem a bit imposing, but guests feel naturally welcomed and comfortable here. This is true hotel hospitality. You can spend wonderful moments here in its relaxed and comfortable atmosphere.

  • Hotel Nara Tea Lounge and bar “The Bar”
    奈良ホテル ティーラウンジ /バー「ザ・バー」
    • Address First floor of the Main Building of the Nara Hotel, 1096 Takabatake-cho, Nara City, Nara Prefecture
    • Phone Number 0742-26-3300
    • [Hours:] Tea Lounge 8:30 a.m. ~ 6:00 p.m.; The Bar 6:00 p.m. ~ midnight
      [Closed] Always open

Fine French cuisine in a historical dining room

The Nara Hotel has two restaurants, one serving French and the other Japanese cuisine. The main dining room on the first floor of the main building, Mikasa, has been serving French cuisine since the hotel opened.

Over its long history, recipes for traditional French dishes have been handed down from one master chef to the next.

▲ The resplendent main dining room Mikasa

For dinner, I ordered the Kasuga dinner course, made with seasonal spring ingredients costing 14,256 yen (including tax and service). I looked forward to the delightful French dishes to be served in gleeful anticipation. Memorable trips are those that included fine meals. I was looking forward to savoring each and every bite.

The first dish served was the Hitokuchi no Tanoshimi [Taste of Joy] appetizer which evoked a bright image of early summer.

▲The slightly tart marinade brought out the sweet flavor of the surf clam and button shrimp. The button shrimp was succulent and so tender it seemed to melt in my mouth!

This was followed by a colorfully arranged dish. The sea bream and salmon were seasoned with Japanese-style vinegar and alongside the colorful vegetables was a sauce made with young Japanese pepper buds, miso [fermented soybean paste] and mayonnaise. The pressed vegetables had a rich sauce and the vegetables were fresh and crisp. The lingering flavor of the young Japanese pepper beds was exquisite.

▲This delicious dish of sea bream and salmon with pressed vegetables was a delight to the eye.

A soup was served next and I selected the cold beef consommé. Other possible choices were a hot beef consommé, cold potage, and four types of hot vegetable soup. When I visited, the cold potage was a vichyssoise and the hot vegetable soups were white asparagus, pumpkin, and corn; all together there were six types of soup.

▲ I selected the clear cold beef consommé soup.

The slightly gelatinous cold beef consommé had a rich beef flavor which was most impressive and most satisfying.

The main fish dish that followed was black rockfish marinated in olive oil and seasoned with herbs baked in an oven.

▲The olive oil and garlic brought out the sweetness of the black rockfish.

This delightful dish was unique for French cuisine as it had an Italian feel about it. The tomatoes accompanying the black rockfish were equally delicious! They had a juicy sweetness that was divine.

This was followed by a refreshing lime-flavored sherbet palate cleanser to prepare the taste buds for the main meat dish which came next.

▲Wagyu beef fillet steak garnished with morille champignons in a sauce madère

The moment it was served its tantalizing aroma filled the air. The morille champignons accentuate the delicious flavor of the sauce made with Madère wine. Simply scrumptious!

▲The meat, cooked medium rare, was so tender that the knife sliced through it with no effort.

It was juicy and rich in flavor. The sophisticated sweet flavor of the morille champignons lingered delightfully on the palate after each bite. The sauce madère was quite savory. It gave the beef a wonderfully different flavor. The beef was accompanied by a gently flavored potato gratin, cauliflower, green beans, and Manganji pepper.

Last came the dessert. So colorfully arranged it looked almost too good to eat.

▲The green tea marble cake, with its hint of green tea, perfectly matched the citric sweetness of the Melba Belleux that resembled a chilled mousse.
▲ A madeleine made with rice flour and a vanilla macaroon were served with the coffee. Both were moist and sweet and went well with the robust coffee.

This was both a filling and satisfying dinner. Each dish was tastefully prepared and picturesque. The menu I described above was served until June 30, 2018 and from July the menu was changed. I’m sure the new menu was equally as wonderful. Enjoying different dishes that vary from season to season is one reason why the restaurant has so many regular customers. In addition to the course I selected there were four other courses.

▲ In addition to the courses there are a la carte dishes, too, such as beef stew which costs 9,504 yen (including tax and service).

It is only possible to use the restaurant for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I highly recommend you try its traditional French cuisine.

  • Main Dining Room Mikasa
    • Address First floor of the Main Building of the Nara Hotel, 1096 Takabatake-cho, Nara City, Nara Prefecture
    • Phone Number 0742-24-3044
    • [Hours:] Breakfast 7:00 a.m. ~ 9:30 a.m.; Lunch 11:30 a.m. ~ 2:30 p.m.; Dinner 5:30 p.m. ~ 9:00 p.m.
      [Closed] Always open

Enjoying a final meal at Nara Hotel before my journey ends

I had a Western-style breakfast in the Mikasa Main Dining Room (2,851 yen Including tax and service). It is a prix fixe menu so you can choose from it what you like. I ordered a fluffy omelette. This was the perfect breakfast befitting the classical ambiance and one to help me remember the wonderful time I spent here.

▲Western-style breakfasts offer juice, cereal, salads, egg dishes, bread, and soft drinks

You can also order the Chagayu Traditional Nara Breakfast here which I recommend if you would like to experience an authentic taste of Nara.

This trip to the Nara Hotel was the first time for me to enjoy such an elegant and luxurious experience. The beautiful objects of art and furnishings, the unforgettably excellent cuisine, and the warm hospitality of this classical establishment were most comforting. This is an excellent hotel I sincerely hope to visit again and one that I will highly recommend to close friends. For a truly memorable trip to Nara, why not pay a visit to the Nara Hotel?

  • Nara Hotel
    • Address Takabatake-cho 1096, Nara, Nara, 630-8301
      View Map
    • Nearest Station Kintetsunara Station (Kintetsu-nara Line)
      19 minutes on foot

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*This information is from the time of this article's publication.
*Prices and options mentioned are subject to change.
*Unless stated otherwise, all prices include tax.

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