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The Karuizawa Prince Grounds are a sprawling network of paved roads interspersed with cabins, bath houses, ski lifts, tennis courts and golf courses; and tucked in among the various activity areas and green lawns are two large hotels able to house hundreds of people during the busy seasons. Don’t get me wrong, while the grounds can support hundreds of guests at a time, the area still manages to feel calm and tranquil, a quiet reprieve from the busy city life most people are accustomed to. One of these hotels, Karuizawa Prince Hotel East, offers a natural environment for guests to soak in the surrounding atmosphere, while still enjoying the comforts of a hotel.
Karuizawa Prince Hotel East
Upon entering Karuizawa Prince Hotel East, one of the first and most striking features of the building is the interior design. Smooth pine shelves line the walls, decorated with various nick knacks, pine cones, children’s books, odds and ends that invariably remind you of the natural world. The ceiling lights, partially shielded by leaf shaped shades, diffuse the light into a soft natural glow, and the towering cylinder of white reminds you of a birch tree stretching towards the ceiling.
Karuizawa Prince Hotel East was designed by a famous Japanese architect and interior designer Yukio Hashimoto. Given the surroundings of the Karuizawa Prince Hotel East, it is clear that Hashimoto decided to take inspiration from right outside the lobby doors. The hotel is designed with the theme of “New Forest,” and the idea that you can find your life’s true story within the forest. Whether that be the Hotel itself or the natural forest outside, one can only guess, although I’m sure a combination of both was the aim.
Karuizawa Prince Hotel East offers guests the choice of a number of different types of rooms, as well as cottages on the grounds.
The cottages come in a number of varieties, and most allow a four person capacity. Each cottage is equipped with a western style bathroom, and four separate beds. Unlike the villas offered through The Prince Villa Karuizawa, these cottages do not come with a full kitchen. The cottages are situated very close to the ski lifts, and the bicycle rentals, and there are a handful of cottages that are dog friendly as well! So if you are looking to bring your furry companion along for the holiday, be sure to book one of these homes! You can also find cottages with children’s rooms available.
The hotel rooms as well come in a number of different choices as well, each one set up with two beds varying in size depending on the room. The rooms very clearly stick to the forest theme of the hotel, and offer large rectangular windows for guests to enjoy the shifting seasons from their bedroom.
One of the most noticeable features of the rooms is once again the interior design, although while the lobby is impressive in its natural honesty, the rooms offer a somewhat more whimsical approach to the forest themed hotel. Lamps shaped like gnome hats adorn the fixtures, and cookie cutter tree patterned carpets cover the floors. By far my favorite piece of art inside the rooms were the metal butterflies resting on the walls. The fabrics in the rooms were designed by a famous textile artist, Akira Minagawa. And the outcome of these two creative minds is a playful combination of fantasy and nature.
The Meal Choices
Karuizawa Prince Hotel East offers guests the choice of three separate dining areas, as well as a lounge. Each area offers it’s own unique food choices, atmosphere, and price range.
The Karuizawa Grill is its main dining area. It is here that guests can enjoy all day dining options from breakfast until dinner.
This theme of the restaurant is similar to that of the rooms, with fanciful colorful balls, reminiscent of hot air balloons, hanging from the ceiling.
The food at Karuizawa Grill is reasonably priced, and delicious, with options ranging from Japanese to Western style meals. In the evenings the menu offers a lot of choices for guests to choose from, similar to a typical style restaurant; while in the morning guests are given two choices only: a set American style menu, or a Japanese style menu. Both options were delicious, fresh, and cooked by the chefs at the open kitchen in the back of the dining hall.
This restaurant focuses on Asian cuisine, with Japanese food ranging from Shabu Shabu (a type of beef dipped in broth; a Teppanyaki grill (what we call a Hibachi Grill in America), where the chefs cook directly in front of you; and Sukiyaki which is a kind of hotplate, beef and vegetables served in a type of broth. Private rooms are available upon request for up to six people.
The restaurant is beautifully designed with shuttered wooden doors and screens offering a bit of privacy to seated guests.
The Restaurant PORTO was not open while I visited, but non the less, I am told it is popular among the skiers and snowboarders during the winter months. The restaurant offers outdoor as well as indoor seating, making it also a popular spot during the summer and spring when the weather is more temperate. The restaurant serves Western Style food.
Guest Lounge SAKURA
Finally the Guest Lounge, which is located directly behind the reception counter. A large wood burning fireplace rests in the center of the room, and chairs and couches spread out over the available floor space. The lounge offers guest 24 hour free soft drink service, which is great as there are no vending machines or shops directly nearby.
Nature talks are held in the lounge by professional guides in the evenings.
Along with the bath houses that reside in a separate building and are available for guest use during any season, Karuizawa Prince Hotel East also offers a spa service and a private onsen within the hotel itself. Spa the Forest, and hot spring baths are accessible from the first floor of the hotel.
I had the opportunity to experience some of the services provided by Spa the Forest, and it was quite a treat. From the moment you step into the Spa facilities, the lighting, decoration, and attendants all work to put you at ease.
The private rooms themselves are beautiful, with crisp white sheets covering the massage tables, and a private tub filled with warm scented water, flower petals floating on the surface. I highly recommend treating yourself to one of the many options available at Spa the Forest.
If you don’t have a large enough group for one of the cottages located on the premises of Karuizawa Prince Hotel East, don’t hesitate to book one of the rooms at the hotel itself. The staff is friendly and welcoming, the food delicious and perfectly prepared, and the hotel is beautifully decorated. You will certainly enjoy any time spent within the natural settings of Karuizawa, and the relaxing atmosphere at Prince Hotel East.
For more information about room prices, and facilities be sure to take a look at the official website in English.
|Name||Karuizawa Prince Hotel East|
|Address||1016-75 Karuizawa, Karuizawa-machi, Kitasaku-gun 389-0193, Nagano Prefecture|
|Access||[map]1016-75 Karuizawa, Karuizawa-machi, Kitasaku-gun 389-0193, Nagano Prefecture[/map]|
|Price Range||20,000 - 60,000 yen|