Mitsui Garden Hotel1/7
Photo: Mitsui Garden HotelMitsui Garden Hotel Kyoto Kawaramachi Jokyoji
BnA Wall2/7
Photo: Tomooki Kengaku PhotographyBnA Wall
BNA Wall3/7
Photo: Tomooki Kengaku PhotographyBNA Wall
BnA Wall4/7
Photo: Kisa ToyoshimaBNA Wall
Hotel Gajoen Tokyo5/7
Photo: Hotel Gajoen TokyoHotel Gajoen Tokyo
BNA HOTEL KOENJI CENTER BUILDING6/7
Photo: BnA HotelsBnA Hotel Koenji
Park Hotel Tokyo7/7
Photo: Park Hotel Tokyo Park Hotel Tokyo

7 best art hotels in Japan

Make your stay in Japan extra special: these unique hotels blur the line between galleries and accommodation

By Emma Steen
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Japan boasts an abundance of dream destinations for art lovers, from the remote art islands of Setouchi to spectacular city-centre museums like teamLab Borderless. Recently, however, some cities have even expanded their art scene into the domain of accommodation. Gone are the days when you’d have to visit a gallery or museum to view a prized art collection – now you can stay in well-curated hotel rooms that double as exhibition spaces. 

Rather than having floors after floors of cookie-cutter rooms, these art hotels feature thoughtfully designed, one-of-a-kind suites created by local and international artists. Far more than just being a place to rest your head after a big day of sightseeing, these unique lodgings are attractions in and of themselves. If it’s art you’re after, look no further than these splendid immersive hotels.

RECOMMENDED: Best public art sculptures in Tokyo

BnA Wall
BnA Wall
Photo: Tomooki Kengaku Photography

BnA Wall

Hotels Boutique hotels Nihonbashi

Opening April 2021

BnA’s newest hotel, set to open in April in Nihonbashi, is one of its most interesting venues yet. The boutique hotel features a mere 14 rooms, each with its own unique theme created by a Tokyo-based artist who’s been given the free reign to do whatever they want. Creativity does run wild here, as you’d discover with quirky  features like a magnet Othello wall, glittering disco balls and even an in-room vending machine. Some suites, like the ‘Framed Function’ room, provide a calming and minimalist effect while others, like the ‘Sushi Wars’ room by Mako Principal, are positively psychedelic. 

As the hotel also features an ‘underground factory’ with an interchanging mural wall, guests and fun-loving Tokyoites will always find something new to look forward to on every visit.

Park Hotel Tokyo
Park Hotel Tokyo
Photo: Park Hotel Tokyo

Park Hotel Tokyo

Hotels Shiodome

Located in the Shiodome area and overlooking the Tokyo Tower, Park Hotel features an breathtaking nighttime view of the Tokyo skyline. Beyond the city view, however, the hotel has its own fair share of worthwhile sights including a series of murals incorporated into the rooms.

These rooms are part of an ongoing project started in 2012 titled ‘Artist in Hotel’, where local artists combine Japanese aesthetics with their own artistic visions to create unique guest rooms. The hotel has an entire floor dedicated to 31 of these artists’ rooms.

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Mitsui Garden Hotel
Mitsui Garden Hotel
Photo: Mitsui Garden Hotel

Mitsui Garden Hotel Kyoto Kawaramachi Jokyoji

Most people travel to Kyoto to see some of the city’s most ancient shrines, but this Mitsui Garden Hotel in Kyoto actually features a temple within the hotel itself. Jyokyoji Temple has a history of over 500 years, but with no successor in line to inherit and look after the temple, it became part of a redevelopment project where it’s integrated into a luxury hotel opened just last year. 

While most of the hotel and its rooms are beautifully designed in a black and white wabi sabi aesthetic, the ornate Jyokyoji is a gold and gleaming contrast to the surrounding minimalist theme. The temple isn't just there for looking at, however. Guests also have the option of partaking in the traditional early morning rituals of otsutome (morning service), where prayers are performed by a priest over burning incense sticks, before receiving a hand-painted goshuin (Buddhist seal) of the temple to keep as a memento of their visit. 

Hotel En Michi
Hotel En Michi
Photo: Lit Up Co.

Hotel En Michi

Five artists were commissioned for the Kawasaki Art Mural Project, an undertaking which involved creating a giant mural across the Kawasaki City Hall as well as in five rooms of the hotel opposite the government building, Hotel En Michi. These rooms were treated as artist residency projects, where each artist stayed at the rooms until their vision was complete. 

Because the hotel itself is inspired by the history and culture of the Edo period (1603-1868), the art in each room is also influenced by traditional Japanese themes and colour palettes. You can book the room by Kensuke Takahashi featuring a blue mural of samurai, sumo wrestlers and calligraphy artists, or the one by Cook, which sports a deep-green calligraphy-style caricature and traditional kanji characters. 

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Anteroom
Anteroom
Photo: Hotel Anteroom Kyoto

Hotel Anteroom Kyoto

With rooms that double as exhibition spaces and hallways that resemble galleries, Anteroom is more artistic than designer. Conceptual rooms range from Mika Ninagawa’s loud pink sakura room where a motif of cherry blossoms and blue sky sprawls from floor to ceiling, to more subtle spaces like Shun Kimura’s room where the walls are blank but the curtains feature illustrations and phrases with the artist’s handwriting. 

Roughly 90 artworks displayed around the property are available for purchase so you could bring part of the space home with you. This is also perhaps the only place in Japan where you could purchase a paper cup or a broken q-tip for ¥100,000 apiece – both of which are actually artworks by the artist Kenichi Ishiguro.

Hotel Gajoen
Hotel Gajoen
Photo: Takaaki Ito

Hotel Gajoen Tokyo

Hotels Meguro

Gajoen, one of Japan’s most ornate and elaborately decorated hotels, is located in the heart of Tokyo. With lavish restaurants, a Japanese garden featuring a koi-filled pond and frequent exhibitions, it's not uncommon for Hotel Gajoen to be visited by Tokyo art lovers who don’t plan to stay the night. Ever since its completion in 1931, when Tokyo was recovering from a devastating earthquake, the hotel has been both a beacon of hope and a byword for opulence. 

With so many pieces of 20th century Japanese art on display, it can be a challenge to take it all in at once, so it’s lucky the hotel offers staying guests free guided tours, allowing you to see the most treasured pieces and learn about them in depth.

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BNA HOTEL KOENJI 田澤さまより/小滝
BNA HOTEL KOENJI 田澤さまより/小滝
Photo: BNA Koenji

BnA Hotel Koenji

Hotels Koenji

BnA’s first big project in Tokyo was established in the neighbourhood of Koenji back in 2016. Though it caters to a hip and young community of travellers needing a place to stay, the ‘Bed and Art’ facility also hosts frequent art and music events for the cool kids to drop in over the weekends. The hotel’s reception doubles as a DJ booth while the basement is actually a tiny gallery where artists, and even bands, come to showcase their work.

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