First Images: The W Osaka Hotel Opens in Japan’s Culinary Capital

We have already been pining for a post-pandemic trip to Japan, with word that the luxury hot springs culture was heating up in the province of Kyushu. But just an hour-and-a-half away is Osaka, arguably Japan’s most coveted foodie destination – and now boasts the country’s first W hotel, which opens today, March 16.

Japan, of course, has done a startling job of containing the coronavirus, suffering just 8600 deaths, out of a population of 120 million (for comparison, 535,000+ Americans have lost their lives to Covid, out of a population of 328 million). But international travel restrictions remain in place – so the W Osaka will likely mostly be hosting Asia-Pacific guests for now.

Still, it’s worth looking forward to a stay, as this seems for everything to be one of the brand’s truly marquee properties. First, there is the striking black facade of an imposing tower designed by exalted architect Tadao Ando. Visitors then enter through a tunnel that acts as a veritable immersion into Japanese culture, fantastically illuminated and adorned with assorted origami and kirigami. Moving on up to the third floor lobby, the hotel’s social hub, W’s trademark Living Room lounge, is here marked by an elegant but sexy red-and-beige color scheme, and also features a contemporary take on Kawaii Kokeshi dolls, whose origins date back to the 19th Century.

This being Japan, it’s certainly a big property, with 337 rooms/suites featuring floor-to-ceiling windows, rain showers, and either pink or blue color schemes, referencing both the city’s famous pink cherry blossoms and its azure oceanside. All the way up on the 27th floor is the spectacular Extreme Wow Penthouse Suite (the W version of a Presidential Suite), which clocks in at a whopping 200 square meters, with 17-foot ceilings, a Garden Room (why not?), and artworks by Dutch textile artist Sigrid Calon in the bedroom. And for those special “party people” touches, there’s a prodigious chrome tub designed like a champagne bottle, and a fully-equipped DJ booth (which is not in the bathtub, by the way).

Osaka, certainly has no shortage of destination restaurants. But the W tempts you to possibly not leave the premises, with two bars and four dining options on site. Notably, Teppenyaki Mydo updates local soul food, with interiors by venerated Japanese designer Yasumichi Morita; while Sushi Ukiyo does omakase in an “ukiyoe” (floating world) setting; And WET is the signature poolside cocktail bar. Close by is the Away Spa, which has five treatment rooms for morning detoxes or evening/weekend pampering.

Japan’s third most populous city has actually consistently ranked in the top five of most livable places in the world – so it would surely be worth visiting just to discover what the rest of us have been doing so wrong. And now Osaka has a hotel that is very much worth traveling there for.

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