After a magical week in Kyoto, the place we stayed at the 4 Seasons, the Park Hyatt, and the Ritz-Carlton, we determined to complete off our journey by visiting close by Nara for an evening. Internationally, Nara might be finest identified for its deer, and it’s solely a 30-minute prepare trip from Kyoto. So whereas we might have visited Nara with a day journey, we thought it could be extra enjoyable to remain for an evening, particularly since I might evaluation a newly opened Marriott property.
The 43-room Shisui Nara is a Marriott Luxurious Assortment property that opened in August 2023. I don’t even know what to say about this property, apart from that it was very totally different than our three resort stays in Kyoto.
This resort has quite a lot of potential — it has a central location, components of the property are historic, and the resort hosts a beneficiant champagne hour for all friends each night time.
However the resort can also be closely targeted on the home market, it appears, and the service displays that. So far as I might inform, aside from one Chinese language couple, we have been the one non-Japanese friends. I after all haven’t any difficulty with that, besides the resort kind of lacked the flexibleness and repair stage that I’d count on from a global resort chain.
Moreover, one of many points with staying at a brand new resort is that you just by no means actually know what to anticipate. Wait until you see the meal we had on the resort’s restaurant, which Marriott describes as providing a “one-of-a-kind gastronomic journey.”
Anyway, let’s simply get into the evaluation, as a result of this preview might in any other case most likely be a number of thousand phrases…
Reserving Shisui Nara
Whereas I might have appreciated to redeem Marriott Bonvoy factors for our keep at Shisui Nara, sadly there was no factors availability for the night time we have been making an attempt to guide. I saved an eye fixed on this till near our keep date, however no factors stays opened up. This resort appears to have only a few commonplace rooms, and subsequently has restricted award availability.
So as a substitute we booked our stick with money. This ended up costing round 100,000 JPY (~$677) for the night time. Clearly that’s steep, however for one night time and for a possibility to evaluation the resort, it appeared price it.
I booked by the Marriott STARS program, providing further perks like a room improve topic to availability, a $100 resort credit score, and extra. That at the very least added some further worth, particularly for the brief one-night keep.
Shisui Nara location
Shisui Nara has the perfect location inside city, because it’s proper within the coronary heart of the motion. It’s situated on the japanese fringe of the town, and is true subsequent door to Nara Park, which options quite a lot of greenery, and is understood for having so many deer.
It may be fairly straightforward to overlook Shisui Nara, because the resort is situated behind two walled off areas, throughout the road from each other.
On one aspect of the road you will have the resort’s foyer and restaurant…
…and on the opposite aspect of the road you will have many of the visitor rooms.
Tthe arrival expertise was a bit complicated, as there was an absence of signage or workers to point the place reception was. We ended up unintentionally strolling to the aspect of the resort with visitor rooms, solely to not be capable of enter. Luckily a workers member finally noticed us, and pointed us in the fitting path.
So far as attending to Nara goes, we have been coming from Kyoto, which is a couple of 30 minute prepare trip away. Whereas there are prepare companies all through the day, I’d extremely suggest taking the Aoniyoshi prepare, which operates choose frequencies. This can be a particular historic prepare, and it prices roughly ~$10 additional over the usual prepare.
How stunning is that this cabin?!
In the meantime in the event you’re wanting to go to Nara from additional away, Kansai-Osaka (KIX) is the closest main worldwide airport to the resort. It takes roughly 90 minutes to get between the airport and Nara, and there’s a change of trains required, so it’s not as simple as going to Kyoto, the place you’ll be able to take the Haruka Specific.
Shisui Nara foyer & check-in
Shisui Nara is nestled in a wonderful backyard space, and the primary foyer and restaurant constructing has fairly the historical past.
The construction was first in-built 1922 because the residence of the governor of Nara, and the constructing has largely been preserved.
As you enter the foyer, there’s even a room off to the aspect, the place the Japan-US Safety Treaty was signed in 1951.
The foyer in any other case consists of a few hallways, a desk for reception and the concierge, after which a room off to the aspect, the place friends can wait.
We arrived on the resort at round 12PM, and have been invited to have a seat in the primary room within the foyer. We handed the workers member our passports, however as quickly as we did, she handed them again with out even taking a look at them, and mentioned “check-in time is 3PM.”
I believe that type of set the tone for the keep by way of the service stage. Okay, if I have been staying at a standard Japanese property, I can perceive how “the foundations are the foundations.” However one of many causes you keep at a global resort model is as a result of they’ve a bit extra flexibility, and I’ve by no means stayed at a Marriott that wouldn’t allow you to check-in a bit early if the room was prepared. I might completely get if the room simply weren’t prepared but, however she didn’t even look.
So we left our baggage with the resort after which did some exploring, and returned at 3PM. Effectively, regardless that this property solely has 42 rooms, I felt like we have been strolling into the Bellagio Las Vegas once we returned, primarily based on how many individuals have been making an attempt to check-in. If you push everybody to check-in on the identical time, that clearly creates a bottleneck.
Even past that, the check-in expertise was simply unusual:
- The check-in agent mentioned “I see you reserved with factors,” although we booked a money keep; not that it issues, however the consideration to element was missing
- They have been having points with processing my bank card, in order that they ended up simply writing the cardboard quantity on the again of a random piece of paper; I’m not paranoid about bank card safety, however I’m certain some folks wouldn’t love that
- The particular person checking us in clearly had some kind of a chilly, and he or she saved wiping her nostril together with her fingers whereas additionally dealing with our passports, bank card, and so forth.; that felt decidedly un-Japanese
Anyway, we lastly did get our room keys a bit after 3PM.
Shisui Nara junior suite
I had used a Marriott suite improve award to verify an improve to a junior suite onsen room. All junior suites appear to be configured with two beds, which counters the pattern we see with premium rooms in the USA.
The visitor rooms are situated in two buildings throughout the road from reception, every of which has two flooring. The constructing on the left is called Hanajika, and it has 24 visitor rooms, whereas the constructing on the fitting is called Honou, and has 19 visitor rooms. We have been within the smaller constructing.
We have been assigned room 2207, situated on the second flooring of the constructing on the fitting. Whereas the reception space of the resort is historic, the visitor room wings are ultra-modern. Upon getting into the constructing, there was a small elevator and a staircase main as much as the second flooring.
On the high of the steps we walked left, after which our room was towards the tip of the hallway and on the fitting.
Junior suites at Shisui Nara are 613 sq. toes (57 sq. meters), in order that they’re a reasonably good dimension. Inside the doorway to the room and on the fitting was the lavatory, whereas the remainder of the room was straight forward.
Whereas the junior suite was described as having two twin beds, in actuality they have been a lot larger than your typical twin beds, and have been extra like doubles. They have been additionally pushed in opposition to each other. Personally I appreciated that, although maybe others gained’t.
I’m not a TV watcher when touring, however the TV is positioned off to the aspect of the mattress, with a fairly odd angle, even when it does transfer.
I fairly appreciated the room’s design, together with the arched ceiling, which created some separation between the bed room space and residing space.
The room then had a sitting space, with a sofa and two chairs, plus a desk.
Throughout from the desk was the minibar setup, with complimentary water, espresso, and tea, plus a wide range of drinks and snacks for buy.
The room had a view of the gardens surrounding the resort, which I appreciated. It doesn’t get rather more peaceable than this, although it certain can be good if there have been some outside area.
Then there was the lavatory, which had a sink (it’s odd to not have double sinks in a junior suite, in my view), a Japanese bathroom, after which an space with each a normal walk-in bathe and the onsen tub.
This was legitimately an onsen tub, with scorching spring water, so it was at all times pre-filled.
Toiletries within the toilet have been in reusable containers from BYREDO.
Shortly after arriving in our room, we have been introduced a welcome reward, consisting of some grapes, and a package deal of meringue.
All-in-all, I fairly appreciated the room. If I had one piece of suggestions, it’s that I want the resort rooms additionally had extra of a historic vibe that matched the foyer space, because the rooms simply felt extra like what you’d count on in a model new Westin, or one thing. There’s nothing incorrect with that, however the vibe between the general public areas and the rooms undoubtedly doesn’t match.
Shisui Nara fitness center
Shisui Nara has a 24/7 fitness center that’s situated within the Hanajika constructing, on the bottom flooring. The fitness center could be very small, however that’s honest sufficient, because it didn’t look like many individuals have been utilizing it. It consisted of three items of cardio gear, one weight machine, some free weights, and a bench.
Shisui Nara SUI Spa
Shisui Nara has the SUI Spa, which presents two non-public remedy rooms, and apparently additionally options “volcanic scorching springs.” Nonetheless, don’t ask me what the spa is definitely like.
You see, we weren’t truly given any details about the property once we arrived. So after checking in, I returned to reception and requested concerning the spa space. One of many workers defined that the spa has an onsen that friends can use at any time, and we simply wanted to make use of our key card to enter it. My key didn’t work once I tried to enter the spa, so I returned to reception, and so they acted stunned. They then defined that I wanted a separate key for the spa, which they made for me. It nonetheless didn’t work.
I then returned to reception once more, at which level they instructed me that an appointment is definitely wanted to make use of these services, and that’s why my key wasn’t working. At that time I simply gave up.
Shisui Nara champagne hour
Shisui Nara presents a “champagne delight” each night from 5PM till 6PM. This isn’t only for Bonvoy elite members, or something, however fairly is for all resort friends. That is hosted within the cafe that’s adjoining to the foyer and reception. I don’t imagine this area is presently getting used for anything, which looks like a missed alternative, because it’s a reasonably cool area.
Whereas it’s very nice that that is provided, as you’d count on, it’s very fashionable with resort friends. So proper round 5PM, this factor fills up sooner than an plane with restricted overhead bin area that’s boarding, and all tables are fairly shortly occupied. At this reception, there was the choice of Joseph Perrier Brut Champagne or Duc de Montagne Rose. There have been additionally a few non-alcoholic drink choices.
These drinks have been served with some tasty snacks, and refills have been provided (although we declined). Because the indoor space was so full, we ended up sitting outdoors alongside the aspect of the constructing, and loved the sundown views.
Shisui Nara Restaurant Suiyou dinner
Restaurant Suiyou is Shisui Nara’s all-day eating restaurant. It’s situated close to reception, and has views of the backyard.
Right here’s how the Marriott’s web site describes this restaurant:
Embark on a one-of-a-kind gastronomic journey on the resort’s restaurant “Suiyou” and immerse in Japan’s historic capital Nara’s wealthy culinary tradition, traditions and the passage of time, nurtured by commerce and cultural change alongside the Silk Highway.
I had requested the workers what sort of a restaurant this was, and it was described to me as having Japanese and French influences. Whereas Nara has a lot of superb eating places, we determined to have dinner right here for a number of causes:
- We had a $100 credit score to spend, so we figured we must always use it, or else it could be misplaced
- We had so many superb Japanese meals in Kyoto, and we simply needed to go to mattress early anyway, so appreciated having a easy night time
- Based mostly on how this was described as a “one-of-a-kind gastronomic journey,” I couldn’t assist however expertise it for myself 😉
- Since I evaluation lodges, I eat at resort eating places greater than I in any other case would, because it’s a part of the resort expertise
The primary unusual factor is that I attempted to make a reservation for 6PM. That is an all-day eating restaurant, however we have been instructed that wasn’t out there, however fairly solely 6:15PM was. Okay, nice. I figured perhaps this place can be well-liked, which is at all times excellent news.
Effectively, nope. We ended up being the one folks within the restaurant for all the meal, and it was past awkward. There was no music or something, so we simply sat there in complete silence, and you can hear a pin drop.
Quickly sufficient we have been introduced the menu and drink listing, each of which have been on iPads. So we actually had 4 iPads sitting on our desk.
Under you could find the menu for the restaurant.
The meal was off to a superb begin, once we have been introduced a sesame tofu amuse bouche on a wonderful plate.
Sadly all of it went downhill from there. Appetizer decisions have been fairly restricted, however I couldn’t assist however order the “do-it-yourself french fries” (maybe because of this the restaurant was described as having a French affect?) and steamed greens.
Effectively, I can affirm the resort wasn’t mendacity. This was certainly a “one-of-a-kind gastronomic journey.” Under is what the dishes appeared like. These are presumably the 2 saddest appetizers I’ve had in my life.
Luckily for mains, there have been extra Japanese choices, and we determined to order the somen noodles and diverse tempura. These dishes have been higher, however nonetheless among the many weaker ones we had whereas in Japan.
In some circumstances, I assume making an attempt to make use of a resort credit score works in opposition to you, as a result of this was undoubtedly the worst meal we had whereas in Japan.
Shisui Nara breakfast
Shisui Nara serves breakfast from 7AM till 10AM, and it’s provided within the all-day eating restaurant. There’s not a selection of breakfast dishes, however fairly Japanese breakfast is mechanically served, which works for me, because it’s what I might have needed anyway. Apparently there wasn’t even a menu in English, so we might solely guess as to what we have been consuming.
The breakfast was served in a few programs, and was fairly good. It wasn’t fairly as distinctive because the Japanese breakfasts we had in Kyoto, nevertheless it was nonetheless good.
Lastly for “dessert” we have been requested if we needed a cup of espresso, which I took them up on.
Shisui Nara service
I’d say that there was simply fixed friction with the service at Shisui Nara. I perceive the resort is clearly extra geared towards Japanese friends, and that’s honest. Nonetheless, if that’s the case, it could be good if there have been a bit extra readability for others.
For instance, simply getting a paper at check-in explaining all of the resort’s services, how they can be utilized, once they’re open, and so forth., would have been useful. As a substitute, I really feel like I simply saved having to ask questions, and obtained totally different solutions each time I’d ask.
Additionally, I believe the service was sloppy even past some anticipated cultural variations. For instance, I had tried to ask the concierge concerning the availability of bus service to Kansai-Osaka Airport, since I used to be studying conflicting issues on-line as as to if or not it was working throughout our keep. He promised to get again to me shortly, however by no means did. I lastly adopted up a number of hours later, and nonetheless obtained a non-answer.
Then there was the check-out expertise, which took 20 minutes, for seemingly no purpose. Different lodges in Japan managed to test us out in a minute, so I’m undecided what took perpetually?
Shisui Nara undoubtedly had the weakest service that we skilled in Japan.
Our keep at Shisui Nara wasn’t nice, sadly. The resort has quite a lot of potential, due to the central location, cool historical past, design, and nightly champagne hour.
Nonetheless, given the worth and the service we skilled, I wouldn’t return to this property. The tender product at this property simply leaves lots to be desired. Let me once more emphasize that this resort appears to be hottest with Japanese friends, which is nice. I can admire the cultural variations. Nonetheless, the problems go manner past that.
What’s your tackle Shisui Nara?