A long time ago I came across a chain of hotels called Hoshinoya which essentially is Japan’s equivalent to Centre Parcs only much more expensive and much more unique. As a result, the thought of booking a trip to any of these hotels has only been but a dream until I came across the most amazing deal late last year. For the price of two nights in Tokyo, we could enjoy a two nights stay at Hoshinoya Fuji- a glamping style accommodation on Lake Kawaguchiko.
The day we arrived we had caught the 19:15 bus from Shinjuku meaning we didn’t arrive at Kawaguchi station until 21:15. There were no taxis around so after a 20minute wait, I decided to ring the reception and ask them to call us a taxi. They had already contacted us prior to boarding the bus to check our arrival time so they were expecting us when I called a little worried. A taxi was sent straight away and a Land Rover Jeep was waiting at the reception desk, ready to take us to our room. Before heading up the hill we were greeted by a very polite member of staff who handed us a choice of rucksack. Each bag contained a number of camping vitals; a headlamp, thermal blanket, binoculars, a pillow, a travel bottle and some snacks that you can use during your stay. A way to get that camping feel straight from the start. (It turns out the travel bottle and snacks were a gift that we took home with us at the end of our trip- a pleasant surprise.)
We were then driven straight to our room where one of the hostesses explained all the features of our room and prepared a local tea for us. Hoshinoya takes great pride in using and supplying local produce including the tea and raisins we were greeted with. Once she was finished, we were free to explore the room ourselves and then we went to bed, exhausted from a day’s work and travelling.
The next morning, I woke up ridiculously early. I had done some extensive research before booking this hotel and the main draw was the supposed view of Mt. Fuji! As I turned over in bed, I noticed that it was morning and so dived out to catch my first glimpse of the so called impressive view. As I pulled back the curtain, my mouth dropped and before I had time to process what I was doing I had already shouted Bobs excitedly and woken him up! It was only 6:10am! My previous views of Mt. Fuji have always been from a distance and so I had become accustomed to it being a particular size. A small hump in the distance. However, from this room, cleverly placed at the right height and angle, Mt Fuji filled the floor to ceiling windows! It’s sheer size stunned and delighted me all at the same time and the sleepy frustration at waking up so early didn’t seem to bother me anymore. I grabbed my cameras (yes all three) and went outside with my coat to capture that picture perfect moment.
Our travel companion and friend, Mrs. F, didn’t wake up for another hour or so but watching her reaction to the view was just great! Her first view made her jump, clearly expecting the same small rise in the distance not the towering magnificence she was faced with. Naturally the cameras came out again. The rest of the morning was spent sitting on the balcony in our thick coats provided by the hotel under the kotatsu (heated table) drinking coffee in our camping mugs. It was so nice to sit and chat facing this beautiful volcano until the clouds rolled in, in the fresh air.
The facilities at Hoshinoya are much more that you expect and more than the website leads you to believe. At the top of a number of stair cases (a lot of stairs!!) there is the library cafe and cloud terrace which is a large outdoor seating area. There are many different types of seating ranging from metal chairs with heated blankets to bean bags to sleeping bags on lounger chairs that you are free to sit on. Even hammocks to Kath’s delight! To the left of the library cafe, is an ongoing campfire that has a small sweets station positioned next to it. There you can help yourself to chocolates, covered walnuts, crackers and best of all marshmallows for you to toast on the fire. Rob and Kath were in their element!
Inside the cafe was the best surprise. A beautiful wood burning stove and a drinks bar which turned out all to be free. You could help yourself to a selection of coffee, cordials and tea. In the evening they even provided a deliciously warm strawberry fruit cocktail. It was the perfect place to sit and enjoy the fresh air which we did quite often during our stay.
Even though there is plenty to keep you occupied on site, it is easy to leave and explore the lake which we did in search of lunch one day. You just simply need to ask the front desk for a lift down to the bottom and within a five minute walk you can reach Oishi park. By the time we had reached here the clouds surrounding Mt. Fuji had cleared and we had yet another beautiful view to take a picture of.
We grabbed some food (a hotdog really) and went for a walk before heading back up in the Hoshinoya Jeep!! As we were told, this is only one of 13 red Jeeps in the whole of Japan!
That evening we decided to have our meal in the room ordering the ‘Glamping curry and grilled beef.’ At the set time a young man arrived at our door with a large thermos bag. He went out to the balcony where he proceeded to set up our meal. When he was ready, we came out to a table of food on our kotatsu and the camp fire burning on the balcony ledge. The food was delicious and all served in the metal pans and pots you would use when camping. It was beautiful cooked and well presented. Once finished you simply called reception and they tidied everything away! No washing up and cold hands!
As it turns out, the view and breakfast the next morning was equally as pleasant. The view from the window was as clear as day even as my husband lie there pretending to be asleep.
The breakfast was served in the dining room next to the front desk. There are only 40 rooms in this hotel and it never felt busy so when we were one of 5 groups in that morning we got a very personal service. The food was again delicious and beautifully presented. It came out in stages starting with some pumpkin soup followed by a salad, natural yoghurt and some freshly baked walnut bread (that was my favourite). Lastly we were served a mushroom and cheese omelette with bacon and sausage, all of which was made using local produce from Yamanashi prefecture.
We were sad to leave but we couldn’t go with out one last stop at the campfire for some toasted marshmallows and a camera full of some magnificent Fuji-san views!
Hoshinoya was a dream. All staff were extremely accommodating, polite and welcoming. They were always there to offer a hand, local information and even the English spoken was very good making our stay that little bit easier. I will definitely make an effort to stay here again and would highly recommend Hoshinoya Fuji to anyone wanting the perfect, luxurious Fuji-view location with that outdoor feel.
It was perfect and I can’t wait until my next stay, but for now…