Lost in relaxation

Author: Julie Earle-Levine

Drained by Tokyo's frenetic pace? Recharge in hot springs.

When you can shop no more, restorative thermal springs and glorious scenery lie an easy hour's train ride from central Tokyo. For guests of Shangri-La Hotel Tokyo, a stone's throw from Tokyo Station - a great starting point for quick escapes - new daytrips and overnight stays are on offer to three Hoshino Resort properties.

The high-design Hoshino hotels blend contemporary and traditional design and all have thermal baths, a cornerstone of Japanese culture. Kai Atami overlooks Sagami Bay, known for its spiny lobster and horse mackerel, the latter featuring in the local sashimi. Hoshinoya Karuizawa is in a traditional summerhouse town in highland Nagano prefecture (the emperor and empress met there while playing tennis in the 1950s). Kai Hakone, the third property, is close to Mount Fuji, on the banks of the Sugumo River.

Guests lounge in black padded kimonos, tabi (split-toe socks) and geta (wooden clogs), which somehow make shuffling seem sexy. Napping between baths is highly recommended. The food is a highlight, featuring locally sourced ingredients in dishes such as smoked duck with apple, eggplant soup and sashimi fresh from nearby Odawara. It's the perfect recharge before heading back to Tokyo and another round of shopping in Shibuya. Day visits to Kai Hakone, Kai Atami and Kai Karuizawa cost $225-$520, including day use of a suite, hot-spring bathing and lunch.







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