Friday, April 20, 2012

Review: Super Hotel Lohas JR Nara, Japan

Date of travel: 6-8 April 2012
TripAdvisor's 2012 Winner. The actual award was for: Travelers' Choice® 2012 Winner Bargain

Have you ever been to a hotel that claims to be Eco-Friendly a.k.a. Lohas? What exactly does that mean? Nara is a town in Japan neighbouring Kyoto and Osaka. The entire town has taken great efforts in going green and eating organic vegetables and preserving the environment. Thumbs up to them. For guests at such a hotel, these are some of the facts:

1. Only Check-in, no check-out
To improve efficiency, no key is needed to your room. You will be given a PIN to open your room door. Full payment is collected upfront, so on the day of check-out, simply throw away your PIN and kindly leave the room by 10am. No need to visit the reception again.
PIN required at your room door, and the main entrance after midnight

2. No phone in room
To reduce the need for manpower, you get to do everything by yourself. Need another pillow? Help yourself from the lobby. Is your yukata(robe) too long? Find the shorter ones at the lobby.
6 types of pillows for you to choose from, including charcoal!

3. No laundry service
Just head over to the laundry room and put in coins, 100¥ for 30min wash and 100¥ for 15min drying. No coins? No problem, use the vending machine. Need your pants pressed? Just pick up the presser at the lift area of every floor and do it in the comforts of your room.
Laundry room with coin operated machines
Coin changing machine

Trousers presser device at the lift. The machine on the left is to purchase special movies to view in your room

 4. No room service / restaurant
Need a drink? Head over to the cafeteria to find coffee, tea and choc at the bending machines. Hungry? Just walk outside to the many restaurants available.
These machines can actually do hot and iced versions, as well as specific requests for more/less milk/sugar

5. Self-service breakfast @ Cafeteria
Grab a tray and help yourself to the breakfast spread. Don't know how to assemble your food? Not to worry, just follow the example tray on display. After you're done, follow the many signs on where to place each piece of utensil and waste, if any.
Sample of what your breakfast should look like
What I ate instead. Seems like mine was overloaded

The eggs are unsalted. Most eat it with ketchup.

Your salad with 3 choices of dressing

Japanese porridge that seems to be made from brownish rice

Pasta salad of some sort and yoghurt at the back

Miso Soup is there daily. Clam Chowder is the variable
Clear instructions on where each utensil should be placed. Feels like my school canteen LOL!

6. Sort your garbage
2 bins are provided in your room to separate cans and bottles from the rest. In Japan, really strict rules are enforced when it comes to recycling. Can you imagine separating your garbage into 44 categories, and writing your name and address on each bag? Tedious, definitely.

Very comfortable bed and sheets!

There's an ionizer, fridge, and 2 bins for garbage

A bathtub in case you don't intend to try the hot springs

A kettle + humidifier

Interesting to say the least. Overall, the rooms were great and the onsen hot spring was superb. For the benefit of readers who haven't been to an onsen before, this is an exclusive look at how one looks like inside. The entrance to the women's onsen is password protected at the door, get your special PIN daily from the reception. Upon entering, find the lockers and remove all clothes.
For women to use in the hot springs

The lockers area with toilet and hairdryers

Bring along the big and little towels from your room. Enter the next door with your little towel, and this is the shower area. Pick a stool and make sure you clean yourself thoroughly. You are expected to spend no less than 10 minutes to clean yourself, otherwise you will get some stares.
Shower area with soaps and shampoo provided. Feel free to bring your own

Take your small towel with you and wrap it around your head and head to the indoor pool first. Slowly submerge yourself and warm your body up for 5mins before heading to the outdoor pool. For first timers, stay for 20 minutes at most. Once done, shower again and use your little towel to dry yourself before heading out to ther lockers for your bigger towel. After the awkwardness of the first time, you will soon begin to enjoy the experience of the onsen.
The indoor pool. During winter, this is actually hotter than the outdoor pool

Head out the glass doors

The lovely outdoor pool in the cold wind!
 One last note of caution - no talking allowed. It is meant to be a calm and quiet experience for everyone.

Japan2012: Top 5 Favourite Restaurants in Kyoto - Part 1
Japan2012: Top 5 Favourite Restaurants in Kyoto - Part 2
Review: Super Hotel Lohas JR Nara, Japan
Japan2012: What Did I Buy Back?
Review: Hana Hostel, Kyoto
Japan2012: Kyoto 5D/4N Itinerary - Day 1
Japan2012: Kyoto 5D/4N Itinerary - Day 2
Japan2012: Kyoto 5D/4N Itinerary - Day 3
Japan2012: Kyoto 5D/4N Itinerary - Day 4
Japan2012: Kyoto 5D/4N Itinerary - Day 5
Japan2012: Nara 3D/2N Itinerary - Day 5,6,7
Japan 2012: Osaka 4D/3N Itinerary - Day 7
Japan 2012: Osaka 4D/3N Itinerary - Day 8
Japan 2012: Kobe Day Trip - Day 9 & 10 (Final) 

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