Friday, November 4, 2011

Hoshi Onsen Chojukan, Central Japan

A delicious bowl of steaming ramen at Shin-Sen-Gumi last night left me dreaming of a cozy fall destination in Japan.  This ryoken (Japanese inn) is situated in central Japan about an hour from Tokyo.

I think the best possible description of this place is from the site,, where I found all these beautiful photos.

"The place is tucked away very deeply in the Japanese forests. Your trip will most likely involve a few hours by train, followed by a two very scenic bus drives. Once you finally step out, the entire staff will be out there to welcome you.  The staff takes your shoes and luggage, and provides you with traditional japanese clothing. That means both indoor and outdoor yukata [a Japanese garment]. During your entire stay you will be assisted by the same personal guest lady. Breakfast and dinner are served in your own room. Every dish will be brought to your room the moment it’s ready in the kitchen. There are many possibilities to walk around in nature, but the absolute highlight are the various hot springs, the so-called onsen. This ryokan has both indoor and outdoor onsen. The indoor onsen is famous throughout Japan, as it has remained virtually unchanged since its construction in 1870. There is a strict ritual of entering the bath, but once inside the water, the world seems to flow away. The overall experience in this ryokan was so authentic, it almost felt unreal."   

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Hotel Verneuil, Paris, France

In the last 24 hours, Paris has really punched me in the face.  I fell asleep reading the English translated French novel Enough About Love, I woke up to read the New York Times review of Adam Gopnik's new book on French cuisine, and then sat down to my computer to watch the trailer for Martin Scorsese's new Paris-based film Hugo.  (Super excited about this movie, btw!)  Needless to say, I took this as a sign and went hunting for a Paris hotel that plays into all the fantasy we Americans often feel about that city.

Meet the Hotel Verneuil on The Left Bank.  This is a converted 17th century townhouse with 26 little rooms and with its bold wallpaper, stone vault restaurant and cozy little study, it seems just perfect.  Also, it's affordable, so perhaps my Paris fantasy could someday become a reality.  

Photos from i-escape.