Feb 23, 2021
IN 2020, OSAKA, JAPAN’S BUSTLING PORT CITY, welcomed three new hotels to its collection, ready to greet international guests when we start to take flight again. Whether you’re exploring hip Nakazakicho or eating your way through the city’s famous food culture, there’s a new hotel to suit whatever your style and however much you’d like to spend.
As Osaka’s first addition to the bespoke collection Design Hotels, the only hotel in Japan with interiors fashioned by prominent UK designer Tara Bernerd, and the inaugural property of a new hotel brand from the Japanese-owned Palace Hotel Group, this 212-room property packs a lot of firsts for the city.
Zentis Osaka opened in July 2020 as a select service property with some strong design appeal. The hotel’s public spaces have a soft color palette of warm greys, blues, and taupe; and a mix of textures that intermingle including timber beams, exposed brickwork and structural ironmongery for an industrial-chic look.
A spacious garden and outdoor-seating area on the ground floor as well as an open terrace in the hotel’s bar and restaurant, UPSTAIRZ, are relaxing spaces that offer guests some fresh air. The menu at UPSTAIRZ, the hotel’s all-day dining restaurant, was dreamed up by a well-known local chef, Shinya Otsuchihashi, who also helms the Michelin-starred CRAFTALE restaurant in Tokyo.
The hidden gem in the hotel is Room 001. This self-service laundry features washing machines and dryers, a dedicated shoeshine corner where you can book a professional polishing, a curated selection of perfumes and colognes that are free to use, and a bookshelf stocked with Japanese manga and photo books, as well as sleek leather pin-cushioned chairs and a plush sofa.
The hotel has three different types of rooms, Studio, Corner Studio, and Suites with a modern, clean design and a little Japanese flair in the shodo-inspired sweep above each bed.
1-4-26 Dojimahama, Kita-ku. Rooms from ¥18,300.
Playful and hip, the latest Moxy hotel to open in Japan nails the brands ethos of youthful style and affordability.
The self-service Moxy Osaka Shin Umeda, which started welcoming guests in September 2020, features 288 cozy and stylish rooms spread out over 14 floors. The space in each may be compact but it doesn’t feel crowded. They’ve also had some stellar ideas about how to maximize it, with foldout chairs and a table that hangs along the wall until needed. The idea is that you don’t spend too much time in your room anyway, and the communal area that covers the whole first floor (see photo at top of this story) is where you’d help yourself to a drink or snack (they have a row of fridges) and socialize—maybe with a game of table football or pinball—or take a seat out on the terrace.
Its location in Umeda, once known as a hub for Panasonic factories, informs the interior design. An industrial/mechanical vibe is brought in through the artwork, like tool imagery used to mark each floor number, and the use of metal in the hotel’s most frequented place: the bar area.
The most prominent art piece, a giant washi paper octopus hanging upside down from a lofty ceiling, departs from the factory theme, but stays on-point destination-wise. The sea creature is a nod to one of the city’s most famous dishes, takoyaki (octopus balls), doughy fried balls with chopped octopus inside. Its position maximizes viewing, and passersby can take it in from the floor to (double-height) ceiling windows in the lobby space. Although pretty stunning, especially when lit up at night, the most popular spot for the Instagram selfie is the soaring bookshelf stacked with design objects, from gumball machines to croquet sets.
7-22-1 Fukushima, Fukushima-ku. Rooms from ¥12,000.
Another new player on Osaka’s hotel scene, Hotel Elcient, first opened its doors on August 1, 2020. A Japanese-style bath is the main drawcard here with the second floor featuring a shared bathing area and sauna (separated by gender) where guests can wash off and soak in an expansive public bath, overlooking an internal garden.
Like Zentis and Moxy the hotel also looks to the city for art inspiration, and each floor features art wallpaper showcasing different landmarks around Osaka. Seven local sights, like Tsutenkaku, a well-known observation tower, feature throughout the 17-floor property.
A uniquely Osakan breakfast is served up at Hotel Elcient’s guest lounge. The set features a range of Japanese foods, including takoyaki. Not keen on fish in the morning? They also have a Vitamin plate, which seems to follow an “eat the rainbow” philosophy with a range of fruits and vegetables making up the bulk of the meal. During the day the lounge transforms into a workspace with in-house guests being able to use the area as an office for just ¥500 per use, with unlimited drinks and local snacks included in the fee.
The 253-room hotel has nine room types to choose from. The three starting categories—a semi double, standard twin, and standard double—all measure up at a tight 15 square meters, but the largest on offer, what they call a universal twin, is more than double the size of the least expensive option. Accommodations are clean and simple with dark wooden interiors softened with golds, silver, or some warm natural shades, depending on the room type.
1-2-7, Sonezaki, Kita-ku. Rooms from ¥6,480.