Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Snow, Moon, and Flowers in Gora

I stayed at a very nice hotel close to the Gora Station named Setsugetsuka(雪月花 - literally "Snow, Moon, and Flowers") which truly deserves its name. Situated on a small hill close to the station, you realize that you are entering a very traditional hotel when you enter the garden and are greeted with an entrance and lobby designed with very Japanese overtones with the hotel staff all dressed in kimonos/yukatas. It is at the lobby that you learn that you can indeed choose a yukata yourself for free that you can wear while you stay at the hotel. I strongly recommend doing this - yukatas are so comfortable even if a little hard to take long steps in ;)

The room design manages to fuse together traditional with the newest technology. From the beds to tatami floor it's a clearly Japanese design. There is even space and equipment for a traditional tea ceremony. However, the room squeezes in a nicely sized LCD which can accept SD cards for viewing digital camera pictures, a digital A/C unit mounted to the ceiling so that it is completely out of the way, heated toilet seats, and a 100 MBit internet connection. The food was very traditional (unlimited sushi and tempura for dinner, grilled salmon for breakfast).

Of course the hotel is famous for hot springs more than anything else and there are both private and public hot springs. The public ones allow quite a few number of people to make use of them at the same time though male and female public baths are seperate. The private hot springs are smaller - there are three of them, all with different designs. The use of the private springs are on a first come first serve basis so one needs to watch a special board listing their availability that is visible from all rooms' balconies. The hot springs is... hot... I got a chance to try one of the three private hot springs and I was completely red after staying in the water for 15 minutes or so. I could not help but think though that it must be an awesome experience during snowing in winter.

There is so much more to say about the hotel but I think this is enough to give you an idea ;) Tomorrow, onto other things to do at Hakone...

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