Mampei Hotel is one of the symbolic hotels in Karuizawa. Its history is as rich as Karuizawa’s history, and many Japanese and foreign celebrities, including John Lennon, are said to love it. Today Mampei Hotel still retains its classic old appearance and is a place you must definitely visit when you go to Karuizawa! I will introduce the café terrace where you can enjoy your tea after a morning walk around the resort town.
Mampei Hotel is at the end of the green Mampei Road
Mampei Hotel is located in the quiet summer villa area of Old Karuizawa. From the main street in Old Karuizawa turn right and take the little forest path called “Mampei Road” to reach the hotel. It’s about 30 minutes on foot from Karuizawa Station and 10 minutes from the shopping street Karuizawa Ginza. You can go there with a car or a bus, but in good weather I recommend either taking a rental bike or just walking. The surrounding area is silent, green and with fresh air which will make your walk quite pleasant. The refreshing wind will definitely lift up your mood. Enjoy the nature around until you reach the hotel.
An old hotel with a classical atmosphere
Mampei Hotel’s history dates back to the last days of the Edo period. Originally it opened as an inn called “Kameya” in Karuizawa Ginza. During the Meiji period it reopened as “Kameya Hotel” and was moved to its current location. In the years to come it became a popular summer resort loved by foreigners and Japanese. On the photo you see the main building, also known as the Alps Building. It was built during the Showa period based on a prototype of the original hotel. The hotel has a solid and unique classical appearance. It’s a place which brings a refined feeling of nostalgia. Many famous people loved this hotel. John Lennon was one of them, and he used to spend some time in the Alps Building every year.
Spend a luxurious afternoon at the café terrace surrounded by lush green nature
There is a good way to enjoy some time at this hotel even without staying overnight. For example, you can have tea on the café terrace. Visitors are welcome to have tea and breakfast or lunch on this terrace where one can get a taste of the hotel’s unique atmosphere. In the summer the terrace is surrounded by lush green, while in the autumn you can enjoy the beautiful autumn foliage colors. This café tends to get crowded during peak season, so pick carefully the day you go there. During busy weekends all seats are full even right after the opening at 9-10 am. But even on such days there is no rush – on the contrary, you can still spend leisurely time. Feel the cool wind of Karuizawa and let your mind escape the worries of everyday life.
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Nagano apple pie, blueberry tart, John Lennon's favorite royal milk tea
The royal milk tea is the most famous item in this café’s menu. The story says that when John Lennon first came here it wasn’t part of the menu, but the singer himself taught the staff how to make it and since then it’s regularly on offer. Other popular sweets are apple pies using Nagano apples and blueberry tarts. On the photo you can see “Apple A la Mode”. It’s a delicious apple pie with chewy pieces of apple and raisins which goes together with fragrant vanilla ice cream.
After your tea go inside the hotel lobby to learn more about the history of this place
After enjoying your tea at the café terrace enter the hotel and take a look inside. Mampei Hotel’s classical furnishing, fireplace and stained glass give the impression of visiting an old museum. You won’t get bored of examining the fine design of everything around. There is a small museum room where you can learn more about the history and culture of this hotel. Come here after your tea and you’ll get to know this place even better.
Probably many people want to stay at Mampei Hotel but find it a bit expensive. For such visitors I just introduced a good way to enjoy the hotel’s atmosphere at the café terrace. You’ll be impressed by the classical retro-modern refined design. This place immediately evokes images of Karuizawa as a summer resort. Be sure to visit it when you go to Karuizawa.