Most travelers come to Nara, Japan, on business or to visit the Nara Park. For both options, the 330 room Hotel Nikko Nara, is a perfect choice. It was my second stay at a Nikko hotel in Japan, I previously stayed at the Nikko Kansai at the Osaka Airport and, like that property, this one was a bit hit and miss.
Like the Nikko Kansai, one of the best features of the Nikko Nara is its location. This is a can’t be beat location in central Nara adjacent to a Japan Rail station. The ride is about 45 minutes from Osaka or Kyoto, then a short underground walk from the train station to the hotel.
The hotel lobby is large and arranged in conversational groupings. Even on a busy evening, there was a spot to sit and wait for the colleagues I was traveling with. There’s lots of marble and, as I’ve come to expect in hotels in Japan, beautiful flower arrangements that dominate the public space.
The lobby is impressive. The rooms, however, are a bit of a mixed bag.
Large by Japan standards and spartan by American ones, my room was comfortable with a double bed, desk, and small seating area with table. Amenities are the usual, although worth a mention are the robe and slippers, electric kettle, and free wifi. Despite being adjacent to the train station, the room was quiet. I’d recommend requesting a higher floor just to be on the safe side. There is also an onsen on site, complimentary for guests.
The room looked a little tired, in need of some updating, especially in the bathroom where the fixtures were scuffed and scarred. The room also had an odd odor, sort of a combination of mildew and an unflushed toilet. The bathroom was clean, as spotless as a older bathroom can be, and the smell eventually started to dissipate. But it was still there. I was traveling with a group and took the path of least resistance and remained in the room. If I had been traveling independently, I would have requested to change rooms.
There are four restaurants on property, plus a lounge in the lobby. Breakfast, included with many room rates, is offered buffet style in Serena. Although I didn’t have the opportunity to try it, Icho (a teppanyaki restaurant) came highly recommended.
Great locations, but tired rooms, seem to be a theme with the Nikko hotels. Go for the locations and don’t fuss over the lack of luxury.
This is the requisite cute deer photo. I was, afterall, in Nara to visit Nara Park, often called the Deer Park because there are over 1,200 free roaming sika deer who call the park home. It is one of the top attractions in the city. The park and the rest of the city is accessible by the yellow bus (which leaves from the train station), and will get you to most everywhere you want to go. If you prefer to walk, it’s about a 15-20 minute walk from the hotel to Nara Park.
Hotel Nikko Nara is located at 8-1 Sanjo Hommachi, Nara 630-8122, Nara Prefecture, Japan. Rates start at approximately $130/night. Hotel Nikko’s loyalty program is called Harmony One, and members are offered substantial discounts on room rates, meals (sometimes as much as 50% off), and other services. If you’re planning a stay at any Hotel Nikko, sign up for the program and take advantage of these member only prices. You can also book through agoda.com.