Dating back nearly a century, this historic offering has reinvented itself as a stylish osnen showcase
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Natural world | Relaxation
First famous for its Manmyoji Temple, Unzen – thanks to its large collection of natural hot springs – quickly grew in popularity as an onsen resort town, having hosted international guests since the Meji Restoration period. Its hot spring fields, once used to execute Christian dissidents, now provide heated waters to inviting baths. You can even buy eggs soft boiled in the spring water. And, sited in the centre of sleepy Unzen, you simply have to walk out of Kyushu Hotel to see the impressive vents at work. The town is also named for its proximity to Mt. Unzen, said to be Japan’s first national park. Here, hikes and ropeways bring you up its slopes, covered in pink azaleas, to a pretty summit.
Kyusho Hotel proves that the ascetic design of traditional ryokans transposes perfectly onto modern, minimalist tastes. In lattice screens and low-lying furniture, rooms are recognisably Japanese while large, plush beds and Art Deco style veneer furnishings bring about a sense of more contemporary luxury. There’s also more than a hint of Art Deco in the rooms’ geometrically clean lines. Look for those with expansive decks – host to private baths – to make the most of gorgeous valley views. Lastly, traditional Japanese rooms are also available, complete with tatami mats and sliding door screens.
The hotel features two restaurants – the international Centenary Dining and the Japanese-style dining experience, Cho Cho Nan Nan. In the former, traditional French techniques are applied to regional delicacies such as Kyushu horsemeat and wagyu steak, revered globally for its tendril marble pattern. And, with a somewhat onomatopoeic name that refers to affable chitchat, the latter fosters an intimate atmosphere with soft lighting and counter seats that face an open kitchen. Hot iron plate roasts are a particular speciality, featuring vegetables from nearby farms and fish from Shikoku’s coasts.
Between four baths – two outdoor and two indoor – Kyushu Hotel makes the most of its location. There’s both gender-specific and mixed offerings with a variety of temperatures available. Our favourite is the partially covered Shiki bath, which looks out onto the gardens and up to starry night skies. Or, perhaps challenge yourself to the Daichi bath where steam is said to ‘erupt like lava’ from its fissures. Back inside, throw yourself into the spirit of things in the karaoke bar or take some time out in the excellent spa.
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