{Japan: Sleep} Hotel Review: Suginoi Hotel, Beppu, Kyushu

suginoi hotel, hana-kan

In a Nutshell:

  • Where: Suginoi Hotel, Oita-ken, Beppu-shi, Kankaiji 1, JAPAN
  • When: May 23 – 24, 2012
  • *Notes:  Website (English), rooms start at 9800 JPY per person w/ buffet meals, hot spring baths with views of Beppu Bay, water park, bowling alley, arcade, karaoke

Full Report:

Rates

Rooms start at 9800 JPY per person.  Buffet breakfast/dinner and admission to certain hot spring baths/water park is included in this price.

Overview

With a combination of ryokan and Western-style rooms, the Suginoi is perhaps the most famous hotel in all of Beppu.  Located 10 minutes from the JR Beppu Station, this large complex sits on top of a hill, giving guests beautiful views of the city and bay below.   Rooms are split between two buildings, Hon-kan (the main building) and the newer Hana-kan.  Guests will find plenty to do as the hotel boasts a number of hot spring baths,  an indoor water park, bowling alley, and a karaoke venue.

Our Experience

We were able to book rooms directly from their website (English).  As all packages included buffet breakfast/dinner and unlimited admission to the hot springs and Acquabeat water park, we were initially shocked by how low the rates seemed to be.  But then we quickly realized that the prices were per person.  Hon-kan was cheaper than Hana-kan, so we reserved a Western-style/Mountain-view room at Hon-kan for the night of May 23, 2012.  However, when we told our travel agent about our decision, she make a call to her contact at the Suginoi and had us upgraded to an ocean-view suite at the Hana-kan, free of charge!

We arrived at JR Beppu Station in the afternoon and made our way to the parking lot to wait for the free shuttle that would take us to the hotel.  Shuttle information can be found here.

Suginoi Hotel shuttle

The drive up to the hotel was fun as we were able to see parts of Beppu.  It took about 10 minutes to arrive at the Hana-kan.

IMG_0019

Suginoi Hotel Hana-kan

Part of the circular driveway in front of the Hana-kan.

Hana-kan

View from the front of the Hana-kan facing outwards.

Although the staff here speaks limited English they were very helpful and checking in was easy.  And we were very pleased with our room:

Suginoi Hana-kan suite

Suginoi Hana-kan suite

Not to mention the wonderful views we had of Beppu Bay:

Beppu bay

Beppu Bay

After settling in for a bit, M and I took the shuttle back down to Beppu Station so we could walk around and explore the town for a bit.  The main street that led to the ocean was flanked with stores, restaurants, and shopping arcades.  A lot of the plastic foods in the windows looked so good but we had to control ourselves since we were going to be eating a buffet dinner at the Suginoi later.  However, we did pick up a takana (mustard greens) musubi from a little take-out shop.  It was filled with sweet egg and very delicious.

Once back at the Suginoi, we headed to the Hon-kan building where the buffet dinner was being held in the Seeds restaurant.  I’m really sorry that I neglected to take pictures of the restaurant but here’s a few of the plates that we got:

Beppu Suginoi buffet dinner

Beppu Suginoi buffet dinner

Beppu Suginoi buffet dinner

The food was REALLY delicious and the selection was excellent.  If you are a fan of seafood you will be especially happy here.  Sushi, sashimi, unagi, crab, shrimp, you name it.  M and I ate and ate and ate until I realized I was going to be putting on a bikini within the hour and going to the outdoor hot springs where my big ole belly would be on display, yikes!

Back in our room again, we put on our swimsuits as well as the robes and slippers in the closet.  Neither one of us had any idea how to tie the sash for the robe properly.  I looked especially ridiculous since the robe was a few sizes too large.  But M was definitely more uncomfortable since he has wide feet and the slippers kept coming off his feet!

Both the Aqua Garden (swimsuit hot spring facility) and the Tanayu (Suginoi’s signature open air hot spring bath) are located in the Suginoi Palace.  Admission is free for hotel guests, otherwise it costs 1500 – 2900 JPY depending on the season:

Suginoi palace

Once at the Aqua Garden, we went up the elevator and into our respective locker rooms  where we put our robes into lockers.  We went back down the stairs to the hot springs area entrance where a worker had us take a shower so we would be clean before getting into the water.

Again, I’ll have to apologize for the lack of pictures, but since we were going to mostly be in the water we didn’t want to take the chance of the camera getting wet.  So I’ll just have to describe what we did.  Upon first entering the water, we found it to be warm but not hot.  There was a slight odor of sulfur in the air but nothing overpowering.  M and I made our way over to an interesting contraption we found in the pool: a “chair” that uses high pressured water to give you a full-body massage.  At first, we didn’t see the instructions and were pushing all the buttons and nothing was happening.  But then all of a sudden a HUGE cascade of water just dumped onto M’s head from up above.  I am talking like a mini waterfall.  The look on his face was so priceless, I was laughing hysterically as were a number of women all around us.  But he was a good sport about it and after that initial shock, streams of water were hitting him from jets on the side of the pool and he really enjoyed himself.

Then we made our way over to a teepee-looking building called the Float Healing Bath.  Inside was a pool of high salt density spring water.  And when I say high salt I mean VERY HIGH SALT content.  I made the mistake of initially splashing some water on to my face and it stung like crazy.  The purpose of the salt is to make the body especially buoyant.  Basically you just float in the water and the walls of the teepee flashes all kinds of lights and illuminations while music plays in the background.  M liked it so much he practically fell asleep in there.

There was an illuminated water show that supposedly plays every night.  I guess the best way to describe it is to compare it to Disney’s World of Color at California Adventure.  Of course, it was nothing on the level of Disney’s and much, much simpler but still fun to watch.  Afterwards we just lounged in the waters for a while taking in the views of the bay and looking at the stars up above.

After drying off, we trekked back to our room where M immediately went to sleep and I stayed up writing a few postcards to friends/family back home.  I also took a shower because I could smell a little sulfur on myself but as it turned out the shower water smelled like sulfur too!

In the morning, we headed back to Seeds for our buffet breakfast.  Seeds is separated into two main dining rooms and we ate in a different one than the night before.  Breakfast was wonderful, M really enjoyed his pancakes because the maple honey (yes, honey, not syrup) was out of this world delicious.  For my part, I think I ate 5 bowls of okayu (rice porridge).

Suginoi Seeds buffet breakfast

M’s 3rd servings of pancakes with maple honey.

Beppu Suginoi breakfast buffet

Okayu, how I miss you! And those are not my pancakes, M asked me to get him another serving on my visit to the buffet.

27

No matter what, M always gets salad at buffets. And that is corn potage soup in the upper right corner.

And that pretty much brought an end to our stay at the Suginoi Hotel.  Looking back, this was one of my favorite experiences in Japan.  It may cost a little more than other hotels in the city but if you’re going to stay in Beppu I would strongly recommend you stay here.  Or at the very least, you can visit the Suginoi Palace and access the Tanayu and Aqua Garden.  I should note though that very few foreigners seem to come here and it can be a bit intimidating for the first time onsen-goer who speaks little to no Japanese.  But if you are on the adventurous side and open to trying new things you will most likely have a fantastic time.