Elegant Time to Spend in the Luxurious Nara Hotel which Audrey Hepburn Loved!

Review of Nara Hotel | Takabatake-cho 1096
  • Trip101 Review

In Nara you can relax from the turmoil of the big city by visiting the famous Nara Park or the Great Buddha. I’d like to recommend a good hotel for your relaxing trip. With its quiet classical atmosphere, this old hotel has gained the reputation of “the State Guest Residence of West Japan” and welcomes many royal guests as well as international celebrities. It fascinates the visitors with its splendid interior. Wouldn’t you want to taste a bit of this first-class atmosphere yourself?

A famous old hotel which was designed by the well-known architect Tatsuno Kingo

elegant time to spend in the luxurious nara hotel which audrey hepburn loved! | a famous old hotel which was designed by the well-known architect tatsuno kingo

Nara Hotel opened in 1909 in Nara city’s Takahatakecho district. It’s located close to popular sightseeing spots like Kofukuji, Kasuga Taisha Shrine and Nara Park. 

The hotel consists of the old 2-storey tile-roofed building made of cypress trees in the typical Momoyama-period style and a new 4-storey concrete building opened in 1984. The designer is the famous architect Tatsuno Kingo, best known for developing the Tokyo Station building.

In spring a beautiful weeping sakura tree blossoms in pink in front of the entrance and its fresh colors make a nice contrast with the wooden building to create an image of a “Japanese spring”.

Plenty of different trees and flowers grow in the garden all year around, creating a typically Japanese sense of beauty which attracts many foreign visitors.

The Japanese-style chandelier was loved even by the actress Audrey Hepburn

elegant time to spend in the luxurious nara hotel which audrey hepburn loved! | the japanese-style chandelier was loved even by the actress audrey hepburn

There is a big fireplace in the main building, an old steam food warmer machine from the Taisho period and a giant Japanese-style chandelier with hanging lanterns – everything reminds you of the elegance of the old times. 

On the photo you can see the giant chandelier hanging from the ceiling. It’s really elegant and stylish and is also known for being highly praised by the famous British actress Audrey Hepburn.

The hotel staff explains that Hepburn stayed here for 3 nights at the end of March 1983. She couldn’t stop praising the hotel for being “beautiful and wonderful”, but the chandelier was particularly remarkable, according to her own words. 

The staff adds that “she was an internationally acclaimed beautiful woman who filled the hotel with her romantic presence known from her movies”. Hepburn planned to stay only 1 night, but due to an illness of her 13-year-old son, she extended her accommodation to 3 nights. During that time she barely went out of her room and was constantly taking care of her ill son. Even in this little episode of her life one could sense her gentle nature.

In the lounge you’ll see the piano which Einstein played on

elegant time to spend in the luxurious nara hotel which audrey hepburn loved! | in the lounge you’ll see the piano which einstein played on

The fireplace in the lounge is originally German, but with added decorations which resemble Japanese shrine gates. Its unique design blends Western and Japanese fashion. As you can see on the photo, there’s a piano next to that fireplace. 

The famous German-born theoretical physicist Professor Albert Einstein played on this piano himself. He stayed in Nara Hotel for 2 nights in December 1922 and walked around Nara Park. During his stay he liked to play on this piano made by the US company Chariton. After the war the piano disappeared without a trace. 

However it was found in 1992 when the old building of the former Osaka Railways Administration Bureau was demolished and was moved to the Modern Transportation Museum. In 2008 Nara Hotel obtained a rare photo of Einstein playing on this piano and managed to claim it back for the 100th anniversary of the hotel in 2009. This story exemplifies the hotel’s long history.

The spacious tea lounge in the main building

elegant time to spend in the luxurious nara hotel which audrey hepburn loved! | the spacious tea lounge in the main building

It is possible to simply enjoy a relaxing team in the tea lounge without staying overnight in Nara Hotel. The tea lounge is spacious, with a high ceiling and big windows which provide a fantastic view to the blossoming sakura trees outside.

The best way to enjoy the view is with a Ronnefeldt tea. 

Ronnefeldt is a top-class teashop opened in Germany in 1823. Its tea brands have been adored not only in the UK, the land of tea, but also by many celebrities from all over the world. Here in Nara Hotel they make the tea in the exact same way as in Northern Germany, paying attention to the water quality and the temperature in order to produce a top-quality tea time for your relaxation.

Enjoy your tea with the special cake

enjoy your tea with the special cake

I recommend the cake set for 1501 JPY in the tea lounge (you can see it on the photo). The high-quality sweetness of the cake melts in your mouth. The price is also affordable which makes this set ideal for your rest time. The Darjeeling Earl Gray set costs 1732 JPY. 

The tea in the cake set is served in a cup, but in the other set you’re served a kettle with actual tea leaves inside. The kettle itself is an original Ronnefeldt one. Its design was created 100 years ago and resembles a cute snowman. You can safely tilt it or put it on its side. When it lies on its side the tea leaves soak in the hot water which means you can decide the flavor strength of the tea yourself by moving the kettle up and down. 

There’s no need to worry anymore that the longer the leaves soak, the stronger the tea will be. You can decide exactly how strong you like it. Ronnefeldt company holds the international patent for this ingenuous kettle.

So how did you like this hotel?

Many famous people such as Hellen Keller, Charlie Chaplin, Queen Margaret, the Pope and others have stayed in Nara Hotel. It’s a great place to relax drinking an aromatic tea and watching the seasonal flowers from the lounge after you walk around Nara’s many temples.

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