Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Review: Annex Turtle Hotori-An, Nikko

8-28 Takumi-Cho, Nikko City, Tochigi,
Japan, 321-1433
TEL: +81-288-53-3663
View location on map
All images: Annex Turtle Hotari-An

The Annex Turtle Hotari-An is one of my favourite hotels in Japan. Nestled in a quiet Nikko backstreet amongst residential homes and the tree-lined banks of the Daiya River it has a friendly and warm atmosphere. The rooms are fairly large by Japanese standards with a small entrance area, well-equipped bathroom and, through a sliding paper shoji screen, a bedroom with tatami mats and futons. On both occasions that I
stayed here we were given a room at the rear of the hotel that backs onto the river. To wake up every morning tucked into my cosy futon with the fresh mountain air and the gentle rush of the river drifting through the window was lovely and gave me a wonderfully authentic Japanese feeling. The hotel has a spacious lounge where they serve breakfast, you can use tea and coffee making facilities or microwave a cheap lunch or dinner bought at the nearby 7-Eleven. The staff are very friendly and came over to help when they saw us struggling to understand the instructions on our instant noodles. There is also a vending machine that serves drinks and a freezer where you can buy ice cream.

Though the hotel is situated a little off the beaten track it is within walking distance of the Toshogu-shrine complex and Nikko's shops and restaurants. The walk from the hotel took us along quiet streets where local residents looked up from their gardening to bid us 'ohayō gozaimasu' and a craftsman worked on tatami mats, alongside the river where mist wafted up around our feet from the turquoise water below and past the crimson Shinkyo sacred bridge. This walk became a daily ritual during our stay in Nikko and gave us a glimpse of the town away from the major tourist attractions. Away from the town, a secluded path from the hotel took us along the river to the swirling Ganmangafuchi Abyss and past the never-ending row of Bakejizo statues. It was especially beautiful on our first visit there, in the autumn.

One of the best features of the Annex Turtle Hotori-An is the private onsen. The stone-tiled hot spring bath can be used by guests for around half an hour in complete privacy which is perfect for those that are feeling a little shy about stripping off in front of a group of strangers. After scrubbing and rinsing ourselves off we unwound after a day of temples and shrines in the steaming hot water. The bath itself is surrounded by ceiling high windows that can be slid back to let in the night air and the relaxing sound of the river. But don't worry, trees screen the bathroom from the view of any passers-by. After a long soak we slipped into yukata covered with the hotel's turtle logo and drank chilly beers in the lounge while we planned the next day's activities, our faces flushed pink from the hot water.

Price: 12,700 yen per room.
Online reservation.
English language website.
English-speaking staff.
Breakfast available.
Rooms with private bathrooms.


We (myself and my Japanese husband - then boyfriend) stayed here regularly in the late nineties. It was my favourite place I stayed in during the three and a half years I lived in Japan. We now come to Japan most years with our two young sons to visit relatives in Hokkaido. I hope one year to take my children here!

Thanks for your comment and I'm glad you enjoyed staying at the Annex Turtle, I really hope to return there one day too : )

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