Discover Japan’s most dazzling new hotel

Discover Japan’s most dazzling new hotel

Eye-catching architecture and hot springs are just the beginning.

Words by Ute Junker

Photos supplied

Some people head to the Japanese island of Kyushu to soak in hot springs. Foodies come here to enjoy local delicacies such as tonkotsu ramen; active types head out to hike the island’s volcanoes. If you are a hotel lover, however, you will want to head to the pretty town of Yufuin to stay in the newly-opened KAI Yufuin resort, which has become one of my favourite hotels in Japan. Here are four reasons why.


The design

Architect Kengo Kuma is known for his organic shapes and his use of natural materials, and both are on show in his design for this serene hotel. Materials such as bamboo flooring and tatami seating dominate in the streamlined interiors, while nods to local traditions include the low-slung silhouette of traditional farmhouses echoed in the form of the hotel’s freestanding villa suites and the hotel’s reception desk, inspired by the stove that traditionally has pride of place in a farmhouse. One favourite touch: the spiral lamps in the rooms that echo the flight of fireflies.


The food

Meals at KAI Yufuin are an event. Guests are encouraged to dress traditionally for dinner, slipping on the yukata robes supplied in every room before taking a seat in one of the private dining rooms with their washi-paper walls. The kaiseki menus celebrate the best local ingredients such as the tangy kabosu citrus fruit as well as wild boar and other game. Breakfast is equally memorable: whether you order the western or the Japanese option, you will be given your own miniature grill on which to cook the hot portion of your meal.


The hot springs

Yufuin built its reputation on its hot springs but you don’t have to head into town to enjoy a soaking. KAI Yufuin has its own beautiful baths, including two indoor baths and a stunning outdoor bath that is at its most magical during a pre-dinner soak under the starry sky. Before heading to the onsen, do as the Japanese do and slip on the comfortable samue suit provided in your room.


The surrounds

The popular tourist town of Beppu is just a short drive away but there is plenty to see and do in and around Yufuin. The town itself is enchanting: start with a stroll along the river and then meander along the main street, where an abundance of enticing shops, cafes and restaurants offers plenty to explore. If you are looking for a dose of nature, picturesque Lake Kinrinko and Mount Yufuin are among the most popular destinations.

Visit: hoshinoresorts.com/en/hotels/kaiyufuin

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