Stepping Into Hakone Gora's Historical Onsen Neighbourhood

Stepping Into Hakone Gora’s Historical Onsen Neighbourhood

Boutique lifestyle hospitality brand Hotel Indigo debuts in Japan

Located in the mountainous precinct of the Kanagawa Prefecture in Honshu, Japan’s first Hotel Indigo brings the brand’s strength as a neighbourhood storyteller to guests with unique experiences that explore the town of Gora’s history, its breathtaking vistas, local culinary delights and hot springs culture.

Hakone Gora is a town of two tales: a century-old town cherished by Japan’s intellectuals and socialites as an escape from the bustling cities since the Meiji-period, while opening the gateway to vibrant nature, pastel-coloured onsens, contemporary museums and digital art for a modern getaway.

Located just 1½ hours from Tokyo, the mountainous town is accessible by the Hakone Tozan Railway, which opened in 1919 and helped make the town a popular travel destination. Over its 100-year history, stories have been collected from along the Hayakawa River, where the hotel now resides, from Gora’s ancestors and visitors, who came to the town to find new life among the cherry blossom hot spot. Today, these stories form the Hotel Indigo neighbourhood experience, where guests can immerse in the picturesque town’s history through the hotel’s artwork and design, local menus, onsen experience and cultural workshops.

The public onsen at Hotel Indigo Hakone Gora .

Design is an integral part of the experience, drawing inspiration from the neighbourhood to influence its interior. Ancient patterns from local Yosegi-zaiku woodwork inspired the wood patterns throughout the hotel’s lobby, with parquetry woodwork decorating the ceilings and guest rooms, while contemporary artwork brings to life Hakone’s nature through ukiyo-e paintings, fireflies, fallen leaves and mountainous landscapes.

The hotel features 98 rooms and suites, each room offering its own natural hot spring bath in-room or open-air bath on the balcony. Nostalgia and novelty sit at the core of the design, with playful bed headboard artwork from Studio Cafe SHIMA that reflects the early Showa-period scenery of Gora. Quirky motifs can be found throughout the space, including a courier man dressed in traditional costume holding a selfie stick, a classic bus painted with the Yosegi-zaiku pattern and a UFO in midflight.

The hotel’s restaurant and bar philosophy is also inspired by the elements of Japan. Riverside Kitchen & Bar is the signature dining destination that brings to life the ‘fire’ element with its large firewood oven centrepiece and innovative menu from Executive Chef Patrick Morris. The restaurant uses locally sourced ingredients such as Ashigara meat and fresh seafood from the Odawara markets. ‘Water’ is embodied through the Bar & Lounge philosophy, a lounge with cocktail specialties that include the Mikan Mimosa made from fresh Odawara oranges, and classic drinks such as the Indi Go, a craft beer brewed in collaboration with Kamakura Beer.

Hotel Indigo Hakone Gora offers a modern twist on the onsen ritual with traditional wood finishes reminiscent of the Meiji-period bathhouses, contrasted with a dramatic digital art wall installation. The installation represents Hakone’s four seasons with rotating expressions of warmth, new life and the location’s natural landscape through colourful digital lighting.

Treatments by luxury Thai spa brand HARNN will recharge both skin and soul at The Spa by HARNN. The wellness destination offers an original menu of treatments inspired by the location, including essential oils, cherry blossom and yuzu.

Each room in the Hotel Indigo Hakone Gora comes with its own natural hot spring bath in-room or open-air bath on the balcony.

Many of the dishes served at the Riverside — Kitchen & Bar feature ingredients sourced from within 10km of the hotel

Entrance to The Spa by HARNN, which offers a curated menu of treatments inspired by the location.

Local Yosegi-zaiku woodwork inspired the wood patterns throughout the hotel’s lobby.

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