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Discover more Japan in SUITCASE Volume 20: Homelands.
You know that relaxing lull of rolling waves that wafts out of sound therapy systems? And the glorious (childhood) feeling of being gently rocked to sleep? Step forward luxury floating hotels, the latest trend to come out of Japan. Always 10 steps ahead of the game, of course it’s the birthplace of sushi and Toto toilets who have masterminded this futuristic marvel.
The concept is basically an elegant boutique hotel – all clean lines and minimalism – which lazily drifts along from island to island. We’re not talking about some sort of hideous booze cruise to Mykonos or Ibiza, nor are we recommending a mammoth ocean liner. These buoyant beauties make relaxing stops for you to visit ancient temples and hike along crystal coastlines as you wave goodbye to your worries one, err, wave at a time.
The boat-hotel blends into its surroundings, with a sleek silver hull that reflects the jewel tones of the sea as it floats along and a roof that’s designed to match the views and homes along the coast.
There are only 19 rooms onboard, enhancing the feeling of a truly exclusive experience. Each is sleek and sophisticated, perfectly encapsulating serene Japanese design with pale timber panels, elegant contours and natural light pouring in through floor-to-ceiling windows. Each room also has its own private terrace from which you can drink in glorious orange-gold sunsets with a matching negroni in hand.
Beyond your private quarters, you’re also more than covered on the drinks front. There’s a traditional tearoom where you can begin your day the right way, or step in to for a moment of calm after a day of exploration. If you’re after something a little stronger, seek out the indoor and outdoor cocktail bars.
Meals are taken care of with Japanese meticulousness too. Given the hotel’s location, it’s no surprise that the sushi bar offers outstanding daily fresh catches, while the chargrilled counter is the go-to for a variety of local specialties. Both are manned by renowned chefs, including Kenzo Sato of Shigeyoshi in Tokyo and sushi star Nobuo Sakamoto of Nobu in Awajishima.
The hotel never touches the shore, so you’ll be jetted to various islands by tender boats for daily adventures. For downtime between treks across untouched seaside trails, head to the boat’s hot spring area or chill out on the observation deck for unfettered views of passing islets. And your last on-land stop involved more cultural exploration than perspiration, there’s a blissful, up-to-the-minute gym available to get the last of your energy out before hitting the hay.
Mizukami Hotel at Huis Ten Bosch
Located in Japan’s Dutch-themed park, Huis Ten Bosch, this hotel will transport you straight into 3017. Set to open at the end of this year, each room is a spherical floating pod, programmed to drift overnight from the theme park to an island 6km away in Naruma Bay.
Each two-storey pod will have enough space to sleep four, complete with a glass ceiling for unencumbered stargazing. Pair this with feeling completely at one with the sea as the pod gently glides across the water with waves lapping against it, and you’ll feel simultaneously plugged into both nature and tech.
The destination island (which is currently uninhabited) will soon be on the same futuristic wavelength, with virtual reality activities to get you involved with the latest Japanese tech.
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