On average you spend 24 years sleeping in your life. Is it 24 years of bliss or tossing and turning? At ANA Crowne Plaza Osaka, they have made it their mission to ensure you sleep as well as you can, with their Sleep Advantage accessories, such as eye masks, low caffeine roasted rice teas, and a variety of pillow types.
ANA takes its cue from the tradition of Omotenashi, the heart of Japanese hospitality. It is about anticipating your every need and providing what it takes to make you feel comfortable without you having to ask for it. Here they take care to ensuring your body, mind and soul is well rested and all five senses taken care of, from the moment you step into the gracious and understated lobby to the moment your head is rested in its comfortable beds, with rooms decorated in clean modern lines and with every convenience literally at your fingertips, from switches for room lights to soft floor lights, just in case you need to grab your slippers for that midnight restroom stop.
And when daybreak shines its way softly across the panoramic windows, you can look forward to a delicious international buffet in an airy and high ceiling Café in the Park. As much as you love Japanese food (that’s part of the reason you are in Osaka), breakfast is often a meal where we like to stick to our routines. So whether your routine is pickled herring from Finland, or roasted tomatoes with crispy bacon, or Chinese congee with yum cha style pork dumplings, café in the park speaks your culinary language, a rarity amongst most business hotels. Having just returned from Helsinki, Sydney and Hong Kong, I can vouch that the food is pretty authentic even for fussy eaters. It is these little personal touches to make the guest feel at home which are hallmarks of Japanese Hospitality.
As Omotenashi is very difficult to put into words, it is easy to misunderstand what it means. Some people may think that it means you can get free upgrades and 4pm checkouts. I am sure that if the staff can do so, then they would, but at the same time they can’t provide these freebies if it means breaking their promise to another guest. At ANA Crowne Plaza they do understand that guests may want these services, especially if a guest has a late flight that day. They have also worked hard with the Intercontinental Hotel at JR Osaka station to establish the philosophy of omotenashi. As part of the (paid) Ambassador program, members can get free upgrades and 4pm checkouts. It is like they already have the guest’s wishes in mind, before they are asked.
One of the pleasant surprises of this hotel is the amazing low rates for a capital city hotel in the center of the business, government and financial district. The compact and renovated single standard city view rooms with a comfortable double bed start from 18,000 yen, and if you were to go to a comparable Crowne Plaza in Sydney or London, you are likely to pay at least 10% more. It is true that the basic rooms in the standard and club floors, and especially the bathroom look deceptively small after going through the grand lobby, however they have every convenience you need, including deep baths where you can melt your stresses away the moment you sink into their luxurious bath water, as well as CNN TV (please ask the reception if you can’t find the channel) and heated toilet seats/ bidets.
If you want a bit more luxury, for about 7,000 yen extra, there are the 31 square meter river view superior rooms or club lounge access. The club lounge is located on Level 2 and is a sanctuary for relaxing any time of the day. There is a great variety of beers and wine, a cheese platter and various kinds of finger food in the early evening, a warm selection of breakfast dishes in the morning and a tempting selection of cakes and sweets for afternoon tea. They even have a small library with magazines, newspapers and the Michelin Guide for Kansai, a must read if you want to enjoy the best restaurants and ryokans in the area. Additionally, guests staying on the Club floors enjoy private check in and out at the Club Lounge. While the lounge does not any views, it does give a feeling of calm and is a great way to catch up with friends in a semi secluded environment. For breakfast you may prefer to dine instead in the Café in the Park, with a more conducive garden view to start your day and a greater variety of food selections. You can also have your eggs, pancakes or Belgium waffles cooked the way you wanted by the chef on request.
The Crowne Plaza is also a generous supporter of environmental initiatives, like Earth Hour and the responsible use of bathroom products, like having shampoo and body soap in large dispensers on the wall. Of course you are welcome to use every towel in the room, but at the same time, it is good to know that you can have a luxurious stay while leaving a smaller footprint on the environment. Being here and understanding this hotel’s philosophy has helped me to understand what Omotenashi is. It is as much a state of heart and mind, one that puts the guest at ease and comfort. It may not always translate to bigger rooms or more freebies, but by putting careful thought into everything they do, it gives you a new appreciation of what true luxury is.