OSAKA Station is buzzing with city dwellers, as expected, although it’s not even rush hour. We have just arrived from Kyoto on the JR Thunderbird express train to head to our next accommodation, located less than a 10-minute walk from here.
We take the underground passageway towards the Sakurabashi exit. There are shops, cafes and convenient stores along the way, exactly like in a mall. After passing through the Herbis Ent building, we reach Ritz Carlton Osaka, which is located at the west end of Herbis Osaka business and shopping complex.
Upon arrival at the hotel, we are warmly welcomed by the doorman in a classic top-hat who escorts us into the grand lobby. The interior design and concept is reminiscent of a nobleman’s Georgian-style mansion so it feels like I have been transported back to the 18th century.
The luxurious hotel, which was opened in 1997, is the first Ritz-Carlton in Japan.It embodies the finest luxury experience, which is apparent from the opulent interiors and lavish furnishing such as Italian marbles, amazing wooden panels, traditional fireplace, Czech chandelier, and Persian carpet, as well as beautifully handcrafted cabinets that display rare antique pieces.
There are 450 art works and numerous antiques dating back to the 1800s throughout the public areas, and the corridors resemble an art gallery filled with authentic collections from the Georgian era. I can’t wait to check out our room!
Our Club Deluxe room is located on the 35th floor, which is on the Ritz Carlton Club Level (33rd-35th floors). It is a stunning corner room with double windows which offer a sweeping view of the city. Plus, there’s plenty of natural lighting which really brightens the space.
The interior is vintage, but not dull. Instead, it feels glamorous, and classy with the European deco and design.
The room has a stately king bed complete with comfy Egyptian cotton linens and a bedroom bench, a royal-blue classic armchair and matching ottoman in one corner, a working table by the window, as well as standard essentials such as flat-screen TV, mini bar with fully stocked refreshment complete with Nespresso Machine and safety box, as well as complimentary high-speed Internet access.
Oh, the bathroom is luxurious too! The floors are made of Italian marble, and it has dual vanity counters, with separate shower and bathtub, as well as original Asprey bath amenities.
But what impresses me most is the Muslim-friendly service provided for Muslim guests. When I checked in, I requested for a praying mat to be placed in the room. It seemed far-fetched to be asking for it at a hotel in Japan. But to my surprise, they have prepared the whole set for me — praying mat, Quranic translation and also a qibla indicator.
The Ritz-Carlton Club Level is often referred to as a “hotel within a hotel” which means, club guests will get extra perks! Well, that includes exclusive access to the Club Lounge.
The Club Lounge has a dedicated Concierge to provide personalised check-in and check-out services and assist with everything guests require during their stay. On top of that, guests will also get to experience exquisite culinary indulgences throughout the day which includes breakfast (7am-10am), light snacks (11am-2pm),afternoon tea (2.30pm-4.30pm), cocktails and hors d’oeuvres (5pm-7.30pm) as well as sweets and cordials (8pm-10pm).
From our room, we can take the elevator down to the 34th floor where the Club Lounge is situated, but there’s actually a stairway from the 35th floor that heads directly to the lounge. The entrance of the Club Lounge is tastefully designed with checkered marble floor and classic glass window panes and overlooks the city.
The living room area of the lounge has low-set furniture and it’s a cosy place to relax for a light tea while the dining area is ideal for enjoying the culinary creations. The lounge also has a bar which is designed in the image of an aristocrat’s home bar — a wooden counter and checkered marble flooring give this bar a rich, warm atmosphere.
Since we’re here, we have to at least try out one of the six restaurants and bars in the hotel. A hotel worker suggests that we dine at the Japanese Restaurant, Hanagatami.
The restaurant offers five traditional cuisines — sushi, sumibiyaki, kaiseki, teppanyaki and tempura. We opt to sit at the sushi dining counter, a seven-metre-long cypress counter overlooking a Japanese garden that can seat 10 guests at a time.
We tell the chef about our food restrictions, and the chef reassures us that the restaurant offers Muslim-friendly meals, and that most of the sushi dishes are seafood-based.
For the sushi lunch menu, you can either opt for the Sazanami, Uzushio or Hamakaze sets. Each set also comes with appetizer, different varieties of sushi, hot dish, miso soup and dessert.But this is not like a typical sushi outlet. Instead, your dishes will be prepared fresh by the chef in front of you, and will be served to you one by one starting from the appetiser. It’s so fancy!
It’s hard to tell which is my favourite sushi since everything is so fresh and delicious. Plus, all the ingredients used are locally sourced. The edomae sushi is prepared with seasonal seafood from Kansai and other parts of Japan, while the komai rice used in the sushi was harvested in Tottori. We also order a plate of tempura which consists of prawns and some vegetables, and which are exceptionally tasty and crispy!
Just a day before we head back home, I make an appointment at the Spa to rejuvenate my tired body after a week of roaming the city by foot.
Like the hotel, the spa is also designed with 18th-century English charm and Japanese artistry. It offers locally-inspired treatments such as the Shishui Detox Facial with matcha and the Ki Purifier and Rebalancer featuring sake. The facial treatments use products from skincare experts such as ESPA and La Prairie.
I arrive 30 minutes before my appointment which gives me time to enjoy the facilities such as sauna, steam room, and Japanese Baths. There are separate changing rooms and facilities for men and women. However, the treatment rooms are located beyond the changing room, and so I have to walk covertly to avoid another male from seeing me in a bathrobe.
The treatment room is quite basic and contemporary. I opt for the 60-minute deep muscle massage, which is a powerful massage designed to alleviate deep-seated tension and muscular stress, as suggested by my therapist. Using deep movements and stretching techniques concentrated on specific areas, it really helps relieve common discomfort andtension.
The deep, strong pressure provides relief from aches and lightens my body. I have also upgraded my treatments with an extra service which is available for the facial, body and massage services without adding additional time to the treatment. I choose the Back Reviver facial treatment, which is an exfoliating and nourishing treatment that will leave skin smooth, soft and bright. It really leaves my skin hydrated and moisturised!
2-5-25 Umeda Kita-ku, Osaka, 530-0001 Japan
STAY The hotel has 291 rooms, including 50 suites, two Japanese Suites, and two Ritz Carlton Suites. Rooms and suites feature city views and are really spacious.
EAT Indulge yourself in the abundant dining experiences at six restaurants and bar at Ritz-Carlton Osaka and also in your room. They have the Japanese restaurant Hanagatami, a Michelin-star French specialty restaurant called La Baie, Xiang Tao serves Cantonese specialties and dim sum, an all day Italian dining known as Splendido, as well as The Bar which offers a jazzy atmosphere. There is also the more refined and relaxed Lobby Lounge which specialises in authentic English Afternoon Tea.
DO Highly recommend the spa! But if you are staying at the Club floor, do check out the Club Lounge which has a stunning view of Osaka city.
GO Osaka Station is conveniently located just 10 minutes walk away so it is really accessible. Kansai International Airport is located an hour away from the hotel, and you can take the Airport Limousine bus to and from Herbis Osaka which is just three minutes walk away from the hotel. There are plenty of attractions here in Osaka to explore including Universal Studios Japan, Osaka Castle, shopping districts of Shinsaibashi, Dotonbori and Namba, and many more.
HIGH Luxurios with impeccable service which caters for everyone, including Muslims.
LOW No complaint! The stay was exceptionally enjoyable!