Kyukaruizawa Kikyo, Curio Collection by Hilton
The Kyukaruizawa Kikyo, Curio Collection by Hilton is the only Curio Collection hotel in Japan right now and is in Karuizawa which is an hour from Tokyo by bullet train. The Curio Collection by Hilton is a collection of hotels that retain their own branding but is part of the Hilton chain as well thereby earning points, status and being able to make reservations via Hilton. As such, you won't see much Hilton branding outside and inside the hotel except for a few signs to join the Hilton Honours program.
The hotel is about a 20 minutes walk from Karuizawa station when you get off the bullet train. However, why walk when the hotel offers free shuttle between the station and the hotel all in nice Mercedes cars. As such, you need to call / email in advance to let them know to pick you up at the station and just go to the front desk when you are going to the station. They have a number of cars and you don't share it with any other group so if there are a lot of people coming and going, you might need to wait a few minutes but it's only about a 5 minutes ride between the station and hotel so you don't need to wait that long.
The drivers are very professional helping with your luggage and shuttling you between the two destinations. They are also very thoughtful as on the final trip to the station, the driver asked our departure time for the bullet train and we told them we still had a few hours and would walk around the outlet shopping mall next to the station, he dropped us off next to the lockers at the station. Attention to detail.
Speaking of the Outlet, it's located literally next to the station and it's quite big with some well known designer brands. If you go through the shops leisurely, it'll definitely take you more than a day to finish going around. There's a lot of green around so even if you are not interested in shopping, you can have a nice relaxing stroll around.
The hotel has only 50 rooms and I saw more staff than guests during my stay. It's got a small gym, spa treatment and a traditional Japanese public bath but it doesn't have a swimming pool. The lobby is very spacious and has a nice home feel to it, elegant but nothing over the top. There's a very small shop area to the right of the check-in desk that sells local goods and amenities that are offered in the public bath area like the body soap and shampoo.
There's a small courtyard that also leads to the Wedding Chapel and there's four function rooms for you to hold your banquet afterwards.
The Premium room is 56m2 and it's basically a small suite with a lounge area and bedroom area separated by sliding doors. The room is very big for Japanese hotel standards but then this isn't your typical hotel.
It's very stylish and blends in well with the environment it's in being in the countryside in Karuizawa and provides a very nice at home feel.
The long table allows you to comfortably get some work done if you really wanted to and also opens up to a mirror for the ladies to do their makeup. As a Curio Collection hotel that keeps its own branding, they've put the hotel logo on the amenities like a jigsaw puzzle which is original.
The hotel has a restaurant on the first floor at the lobby and also a lounge. It's kind of separated between the two with the left side being the restaurant and the right side being the lounge and I assume when the lounge is not opened, the whole area is used as a restaurant for example during lunch time.
It seems like that there are no Executive rooms or rooms you can book with lounge access so you can use the lounge either for free as a Diamond member or pay for entry. It's opened only between 17:00 and 20:00 and if you pay, it's 3000 yen excluding tax and service charges. Of course, if you can get in for free, it's obviously worth it but even if you have to pay, you won't be disappointed. You can choose as much as you want from the drinks and food menu including beer and champagne.
You start off with a plate of all the food on the menu and then you can order what ever combination you want
or just the one you want and as many as you want.
There wasn't many using the lounge with just us and one other couple and there were more people using the restaurant instead. The girl at the lounge was very professional and came to take our order when she noticed our food or drinks were finished. She came just at the right time, not too early and not too late.
Given the current situation, we decided to have breakfast in our room instead of the restaurant and if you want to do that, you need to let the front desk know by 9pm the night before.
The breakfast includes local ingredients and it was absolutely amazing. It was probably the best hotel breakfast I've ever had and you won't be short on liquids either with a glass of milk, apple juice, fruit juice and a choice of tea or coffee. And just when you thought you couldn't fit any more, just remember there are complimentary fruit tarts in the fridge. Speaking of which, all snacks and drinks in the minibar are completely free so feel free to raid it all.
This is an absolutely fabulous hotel. The people are very attentive and helpful and always greet you with a smile and the room and food are perfect. It's located very well within walking distance of the station and about 5 minutes from the famous "en boca" pizza restaurant on the main road. You can do as much shopping as you want at the outlet and not worry about having to carry everything back to the hotel as the car service is very quick and easy, it's like having your own chauffeur between the station and hotel.
If there was one problem with this hotel, it's probably the price. Even in low season, the most basic room is around 45,000 yen inclusive of taxes and surcharges and during peak season like in the summer, that can go beyond 90,000 yen a night. It's about the same price as the higher end hotel chains in the city. But as the saying goes, if it's a problem that can be solved with money, it's not a problem at all. This hotel is perfect and I highly recommend it for your stay in Karuizawa.