If you need a quick getaway from the hubbub of Tokyo and appreciate good French cuisine and a stunning sea view, try the Hiramatsu Hotel in Atami, which is just a two-hour drive from the heart of the Japanese capital.
The hotel is part of the Hiramatsu group of restaurants and hotels, best known for its main restaurant in Tokyo’s Hiroo neighborhood. As the cuisine is decidedly French, this may not be an ideal gourmet experience for those who prefer different fare.
Foodies who are seeking the kind of innovative French cuisine offered by Japanese chefs such as Yoshihiro Narisawa may also be a little disappointed.
Nevertheless, Hiramatsu has an avid fan base among those who appreciate French cuisine and regardless of your culinary leanings, the hotel is a destination in itself whose real attraction is the stunning scenery that stretches beyond the extensive glass windows in many of the public areas and in all the private rooms.
The main part of the building was once the private villa of a wealthy entrepreneur who commissioned a renowned builder of shrines, temples and imperial houses to construct a traditional Japanese compound in the sukiya style, which is characterized by rustic simplicity and natural materials. As such, the hotel has the feel of a Japanese ryokan, or traditional inn, but the furnishings, which are mostly contemporary European in style, provide all the creature comforts expected from the very best luxury hotels.
Each of the 13 rooms has its own private bath with a view of the Sagami Bay. Our room was not one of those with an open-air rotenburo bath, but we were able to open the bathroom’s floor- to-ceiling glass doors and let the fresh ocean air cool our bodies as we soaked in the steaming hot spring water.
After a relaxing soak in the privacy of our room we headed to the dining room for a sumptuous meal.
We were pleasantly surprised to find that the dishes served at dinner were relatively light, delicious and devoid of the heavy, cloying characteristics of classic French cuisine.
We then retired to our room for a soothing massage and turned in early so that we could be up at sunrise to watch the edge of the ocean turn a blazing red.
Breakfast the next day included eggs Benedict, a hearty salad, fresh fruit juices, lots of croissants and other Danish-style breads as well as a bouillabaisse-like soup.
There are a number of places to visit in Atami, such as the Plum Garden and MOA Museum of Art, but we were happy to spend the rest of our time reading in our room, gazing out towards the horizon and talking about visiting again – something I am sure we will be doing before too long.
Room rates start at about just over Y61,000 per person depending on the season, for a twin room with dinner and breakfast, including tax.