When you ask someone why you should visit Osaka, they’ll likely refer to Osaka as “Japan’s Kitchen” and rave about the many excellent restaurants around town. While we completely agree, we also found Osaka to be so much more than that, and our favorite city in Japan.
All of Japan seemed to be eagerly awaiting the blossoms when we arrived, and the trees were just beginning to bud. It had been unexpectedly cold in late March which delayed this year’s bloom, so we felt fortunate to have the flexibility to stay long enough to see the trees in their full glory, and organize our tour of Japan based on real-time data on where the trees were blooming.
Several friends had raved about the St. Regis Osaka, and we were excited to be able to book one of their last rooms available during Sakura (cherry blossom) season. Though only 6 years old, the St. Regis Osaka quickly established itself as one of Osaka’s most iconic hotels full of glamour and romance, and the perfect base for enjoying Sakura in Osaka. We stayed in one of their grand deluxe rooms, which was decorated in soothing blush tones and cherry blossom motifs, and featured sweeping views of the city from a wall of windows opposite our bed. We ordered breakfast in bed our first morning and they brought up the most beautiful breakfast spread of pastries, fruit and french toast (with 6 different toppings from jam to cream). It is the kind of hotel that is so marvelous, you have to remind yourself you came to Osaka to explore the city! No review of the St. Regis Osaka would be complete without mentioning their butler service. Specifically, St. Regis is known for their “butler closets” which can be unlocked from the hallway and also accessed from inside the room, allowing guests to pass off clothing for pressing and other items to their butlers without interruption. It was such a great idea! (And a treat to have freshly pressed clothes when living out of a suitcase!) I also loved requesting (complimentary) coffee with the click of a button – the height of luxury in my book!
Our favorite space in the hotel was undoubtedly the Lobby Bar, dressed in a regal shade of blue and anchored by a gold-leaf painting depicting local landmarks. It was the perfect spot for a drink on the night we arrived and a great place to hide away during one drizzly afternoon to enjoy their special Sakura-inspired afternoon tea. I love floral-flavored treats and their menu featuring seven different sakura-infused desserts was an incredible experience! A must if you’re staying at the St. Regis or want an elegant and cozy place to spend an afternoon.
There are several well-known areas such as Dotonbori and Orange Street for exploring Osaka’s many excellent restaurants, however we loved a few slightly more off-the-beaten path neighborhoods: the hipster-enclave, Nakazakicho, and the streets surrounding Utsubo Park (Cafe Sik has incredible atmosphere!), as well as walking along the O River at twilight on our way to the beautiful Osaka Castle and drinks at Yellow Ape Craft. We loved watching people lay out blankets and picnic under the cherry trees each evening (a common social activity called “hanami”) as the blossoms reached their peak. Osaka is also an excellent base for other attractions in the area, and visiting Nara Park to see the wild deer is an easy half-day trip. The deer are so friendly and well-mannered they’ll bow to you when asking for food.
Between the wonderful food and charming neighborhoods, I think my favorite aspect of the city was the warmth of its people. We experienced so many warm smiles and random acts of kindness from strangers during our short four-day stay. One gentleman even insisted on personally escorting us through Osaka Station to ensure we could find our train connection (a walk that was approximately a quarter mile through underground tunnels!) His kindness was much appreciated and one of the many reasons we hope we can return to Osaka someday soon!
Thank you to St. Regis Osaka for such a magical stay!
All photos by David and Stacie Flinner for Staciefinner.com. (And thank you Luke Willis for the photo of the two of us!)