Review: Kyushu Karnival – Seikai Beppu

Introduction
Cathay Pacific The Cabin Business Class Lounge Hong Kong
KA 380 HKG – FUK 333 J
Grand Hyatt Fukuoka
Seikai Beppu
Dining at Seikai Beppu
Exploring Beppu
Hoteiya Yufu City
Dining at Hoteiya Yufu City
Exploring Yufuin
Lounge Fukuoka Fukuoka
KA 381 FUK – HKG 333 J

Ranking: Location 5/5 Service 5/5 Modernity 4/5 Little things 4/5 Meals 5/5 Overall 5/5

While hotel choices in Yufu and Fukuoka weren’t that easy, the Seikai Beppu was a no brainer for us. First of all, a friend had stayed and strongly recommendeded, and second of all, it was rated the best Beppu hotel on TripAdvisor, so we were attracted immediately.

Screen Shot 2014-09-23 at 1.36.50 pm

Seikai Beppu L Room Details

During peak season with our restaurant choices, it was HK$2700 (US$348) per PERSON. While that was super pricey, at least my sister had a child discount (HK$1800 only), and the prices turned out to be worth it.

y-u-no-meme-generator-photoshop-y-u-so-expensive-b13568

Booking was through the hotel email, and I can’t screenshot it (I wasn’t the one who booked the property), but I can tell you that their English was pretty much flawless.

I was really excited about this property as well as the Hoteiya…

My stay at Seikai Beppu

We drove straight from Fukuoka’s Mitsukoshi department store to Beppu, where the views got progressively better. Once we drove into Beppu I was hit by how rare I saw a person on the streets. Unlike Fukuoka, everything in Beppu was virtually car, and sidewalks weren’t too common.

IMG_0003

Beppu Streets

IMG_0004

Beppu Streets

We arrived at the hotel by 5pm (we left at 3pm after a morning of shopping). The building was gloomy and definitely rundown, but the entrance was a little brighter while still understated.

IMG_0094

Seikai Beppu exterior

IMG_0005

Seikai Beppu exterior

IMG_0093

Seikai Beppu exterior view

The lobby was homey and immediately struck me as having a “holiday” feel at it, as it was partially exposed to Beppu Bay, and was small so all eyes were on you upon walking in and walking out (as this isn’t really a chain hotel and isn’t very crowded, that’s a good thing). In no way was it modern or spacious, but it was homey, and I like that. It reminded me of the Toong Mao Kao Shang Ching Hotel Kenting (a much, much more luxurious version, but still).

IMG_0006

Seikai Beppu lobby

IMG_0012

Seikai Beppu lobby

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Seikai Beppu lobby

The GM came over to welcome us, told us to sit down and checked us in. Meanwhile one of the associates brought us cold soy tea, which was delicious.

Seikai Beppu check-in process oshibori

IMG_0014

Seikai Beppu check-in process cold tea

The GM (he introduced himself to us, but Japanese names are long) told us that there were two buildings, Hare and Umi. We would be located in the Umi building in rooms 620, 625 and 529 (we were 625), and there would be a bridge between the Hare and Umi buildings on the fifth floor and below. He told us about the lack of WiFi in the rooms (we had pocket WiFi, so I was fine) apologetically and stated WiFi was only available in the lobby. He told us where the public baths were, the characteristics of each one (both faced Beppu Bay, and one was near the sea overlooking the deserted beach and the other was up on top of the building) and told us that we had our own private baths. His English was good – probably the best of all Japanese I met in Kyushu (wow, not many Kyushu people speak English) – and I was impressed with the details he added, such as the fact that he said that “breakfast will be announced after dinner service” and “the sunrise is at 5:28am tomorrow, watch it from your room, it is very beautiful”. He furthermore explained that coffee and tea would be available in the lobby lounge after breakfast.

IMG_0016

Seikai Beppu lobby

IMG_0015

Seikai Beppu statue

While the views of Beppu Bay would be awesome under nice weather, the weather was abysmal throughout our stay, so the views weren’t that impressive.

IMG_0007

Seikai Beppu lobby views of Beppu Bay

IMG_0008

Seikai Beppu lobby views of Beppu Bay

IMG_0009

Seikai Beppu lobby views of Beppu Bay

IMG_0010

Seikai Beppu lobby views of Beppu Bay

IMG_0011

Seikai Beppu lobby views of Beppu Bay

IMG_0020

Seikai Beppu lobby ground floor onsen area entrance

IMG_0021

Seikai Beppu lobby ground floor onsen area entrance

We were then brought to the yukata room, where the ladies with us were told to choose their yukatas. While the included ones were beautiful, the paid ones looked even better, though unfortunately were in pretty high prices.

We were informed that we could go in with the females should we want to but our yukatas would be different and were already chosen for us in our rooms. Some of the yukatas looked drab, but most didn’t, so I’m not exactly complaining…

IMG_0017

Seikai Beppu Yukata Room

IMG_0018

Seikai Beppu Yukata Room

IMG_0019

Seikai Beppu Yukata Room

My mother chose one of the drabber yukatas (which complimented her bright face nicely), and my sister chose a nice pink yukata with flowers that set us back another 320 yen.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Seikai Beppu Yukata (my mother’s)

We were then escorted to our rooms by two associates, which required a 10 meter walk (okay, that’s short) from the Hare building to the Umi building and taking the lift, passing the lounge and a souvenir shop along the way.

IMG_0022

Seikai Beppu souvenir shop

IMG_0024

Seikai Beppu lift button

The hallways felt modern, fresh, and Japanese (in no small part to how it was more modern than most other hotels, and Japan is usually associated with modernity).

IMG_0025

Seikai Beppu hallway

The views from the hallway were awesome, and I actually preferred this to the bay view from the room.

IMG_0268

Seikai Beppu Hallway View

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Seikai Beppu hallway view

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Seikai Beppu room entrance

IMG_0071

Seikai Beppu Floorplan

Seikai Beppu
Check-in: Sunday, August 3, 2014
Room Type: L
Room Number: 625
Stay duration: 2 nights
Check-out: Tuesday, August 5, 2014

My first impression of the room was how cramped it seemed. While it did have five rooms, the total size wasn’t much more than what one would expect in a junior suite (and by junior suite I mean along the lines of the Sheraton Munich Airport and not the Le Méridien Taipei). It was basically the size of a (really big, but not unseen) standard room chopped into parts.

IMG_0027

Seikai Beppu L Room room from door

IMG_0069

Seikai Beppu L Room entryway shoe rack

IMG_0026

Seikai Beppu L Room entryway

Two nice bags were put in the entryway during our stay for bring towels to the onsen. They were so nice, we bought one of them.

IMG_0035

Seikai Beppu L Room free bags (for our stay)

There were slippers, too.

IMG_0067

Seikai Beppu L Room slippers

IMG_0068

Seikai Beppu L Room slippers

And a shoe stick thing (what’s it called again?).

IMG_0070

Seikai Beppu L Room shoe stick thingy

While it was a little cramped, I did find the room modern, if not a little too un-Japanese (if you know what I mean).

IMG_0031

Seikai Beppu L Room living room

Some design aspects of the room were really nice, like the stone wall behind the TV. It’s up to date and trendy (while not snazzy), which I like (though I like snazziness too as long as it’s not over the top).

IMG_0032

Seikai Beppu L Room living room TV

IMG_0033

Seikai Beppu L Room living room seating

There was a sink next to a water boiler within folding doors, and cups by the top. The tea and biscuits provided were spectacular.

IMG_0034

Seikai Beppu L Room sink and provided tea

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Seikai Beppu L Room minibar

Seikai Beppu L Room tea selection

I’m not sure if I should commend  the classiness of the lighting or not.

IMG_0055

Seikai Beppu L Room lamp

IMG_0065

Seikai Beppu L Room wall

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Seikai Beppu L Room clock

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Seikai Beppu L Room cups

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Seikai Beppu L Room light controls

The bedroom was separated from the living room by folding doors. It featured two comfortable Simmons beds (though the bed sheet was softer, “woolier” and less heat-resistant than the polyester variation you’d normally expect in hotels, which isn’t that much of a good thing), a closet with men’s yukatas, another flatscreen TV, a dehumidifier and a desk with a (pretty uncomfortable) working chair.

IMG_0037

Seikai Beppu L Room bedroom

They didn’t do turndown service on the beds, which I found to be a little flaw aesthetically (not that we had any problems).

IMG_0036

Seikai Beppu L Room bedroom

IMG_0048

Seikai Beppu L Room desk

IMG_0060

Seikai Beppu L Room bedroom desk telephone

The room featured many power plugs – available not only by the desk, but by the bed as well. Unfortunately as there was no WiFi in the room having power plugs near the bed was a moot point (as in the fact that I like to check my messages before bed and without WiFi that’s not really an option). We had pocket WiFi, but the free 400MB daily went pretty quickly.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Seikai Beppu L Room bedroom desk lamp

Also connected to the living room was the Japanese room. I found it really small, and since two people are supposed to sleep in there, at 9 meters it’s really damn small. That said, there are power ports on two corners (opposite to each other) of the room, so well thought out (again, this is due to using phones before bed).

IMG_0028

Seikai Beppu L Room Japanese Room

IMG_0029

Seikai Beppu L Room Japanese Room

IMG_0030

Seikai Beppu L Room Japanese Room

That said, the lighting was adjustable, and it was authentic, so…

IMG_0072

Seikai Beppu L Room Japanese Room

IMG_0073

Seikai Beppu L Room Japanese Room rubbish bin and power ports

IMG_0074

Seikai Beppu L Room Japanese Room antiques

The mattresses were stored in a cupboard during the day and during dinner they were laid out with turndown service provided. Apparently this is how it’s done in Japan, and they were spot on with our arrival/leave times every time.

IMG_0075

Seikai Beppu L Room Japanese Room mattresses

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Seikai Beppu L Room Japanese Room mattresses laid out

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Seikai Beppu L Room Japanese Room

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Seikai Beppu L Room Japanese Room light

The room was impressive, but the toilet was a highlight. No, it didn’t deserve a “wow”, but it did feature a sink, a shower room, our private onsen, and a separate toilet room featuring a Category 2 toilet.

The toilet featured its own sink with the fluffiest towels in the room, but no soap, which I found as a miss in detail.

IMG_0038

Seikai Beppu L Room toilet

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Seikai Beppu L Room toilet

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Seikai Beppu L Room toilet towels

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Seikai Beppu L Room toilet slippers

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Seikai Beppu L Room toilet tissue

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Seikai Beppu L Room toilet separate sink

The toilet itself was, apart from substantial, also nicely furnished.

IMG_0039

Seikai Beppu L Room toilet door

IMG_0040

Seikai Beppu L Room sink

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Seikai Beppu L Room sink

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Seikai Beppu L Room sinkside clock

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Seikai Beppu L Room “White Time” box

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Seikai Beppu L Room toothbrush

The attention to detail was phenomenal. There were actually three toothbrushes and wooden cups provided, and there was a plastic cup for my sister (as she booked the hotel as a child – the reason they book adult-child fares in this hotel is because of the meals).

IMG_0057

Seikai Beppu L Room bathroom child cup

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Seikai Beppu L Room bathroom air freshener

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Seikai Beppu L Room bathroom child bag

Of course, some things I wouldn’t mind if it weren’t there (though they didn’t pose a problem):

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Seikai Beppu L Room Bathroom First Aid kit (?)

The towels in the bathroom were much scratchier. The bathrobes were extremely comfortable so I do find the bath wear to be of bipolar quality in this hotel…

IMG_0041

Seikai Beppu L Room toilet

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Seikai Beppu L Room toilet towels

In the shower room, the water pressure was so strong, it was painful. I actually had to adjust the knob 20% out because I was looking for a shower, not an acupuncture. For those that can’t tell, I’m not commending it (though I have found most ryokan showers to be the case).

IMG_0042

Seikai Beppu L Room Shower

They also had a stool in a shower, which is the norm in Japan I see…after all, why stand in the shower when you can take a seat?

IMG_0043

Seikai Beppu L Room Shower Stool

The shower featured GemiD amenities. Holy crap…the shampoo is awesome. It doesn’t smell good, but my hair was moist and soft after leaving the shower for about an hour (and no, I didn’t use the conditioner). In terms of its overall mark I’d mark these toiletries up with Asprey, my favourite toiletries of all time before I got here.

IMG_0044

Seikai Beppu L Room GemiD amenities

Connected to the shower room was our own private onsen. The hot water comes from the springs, while the cold water is, according to the GM, “ground water”.

IMG_0045

Seikai Beppu L Room onsen

IMG_0046

Seikai Beppu L Room onsen bucket for pouring water

IMG_0047

Seikai Beppu L Room onsen

I really had fun with my camera’s supermacro function (however it’s not all that good given it’s an all-in-one).

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Seikai Beppu L Room onsen water outlet

Finally there was the balcony. Again, the room faces Beppu Bay so the view is supposed to be spectacular, but unfortunately the weather was abysmal, which hindered the view and our subsequent plans in Beppu, somehow. The balcony featured two comfortable padded chairs (that didn’t get wet during the rain).

IMG_0049

Seikai Beppu L Room balcony

IMG_0050

Seikai Beppu L Room balcony

While direct views only featured the sea and the parking lot, if you craned your neck you could see the hills (which is a much better view that none of the rooms in the Umi building face).

IMG_0051

Seikai Beppu L Room view

IMG_0052

Seikai Beppu L Room view

IMG_0054

Seikai Beppu L Room view

The view of the mountains still isn’t clearing my head, it’s so spectacular.

IMG_0053

Seikai Beppu L Room view

IMG_0062

Seikai Beppu L Room view

The views were pretty good during sunrise, but I had much better hopes and anticipations.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Seikai Beppu L Room sunrise

Overall, the room was quite small for a suite (especially a top level one), but was substantial and well designed.

In terms of the hotel’s other facilities, I visited both baths. I still have my sanity so I’m not going to post the bath pictures (to avoid accidentally putting naked women men in the picture), but I did prefer the bath on the eighth floor of the Umi building than the one on the ground floor of the Hare building. Both have great views of the harbour, but the air kind of “sat” in the one on the ground floor facing the bay, making it kind of unbearable. We spent a maximum of fifteen minutes each night (no matter if it was at Beppu or Yufuin) as the hot weather didn’t really go with hot water for us.

While I’ll have a separate installment on the food here (from a food critic’s perspective), the meals (6-13 courses) were spectacular. The hotel has three restaurants, Eitaro, Gen and Banya, and we had dinner at the former two. Here’s an idea of how it was like:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Seikai Beppu food at Gen

IMG_0274

Seikai Beppu food at Eitaro

IMG_0270

Seikai Beppu Beppu Bay view from Eitaro

After breakfast coffee and tea service was just okay.

IMG_0088

Seikai Beppu lobby lounge

IMG_0089

Seikai Beppu lobby lounge booze selection

The coffee wasn’t charcoal (as is the norm in posh Japanese places), and the tea included Lipton’s. I’d much rather have tea in the room, where they actually had sencha (fried tea).

IMG_0090

Seikai Beppu lobby lounge coffee/tea

There were also some black snack things, which tasted, and smelled, a little like (literal) crap.

IMG_0091

Seikai Beppu lobby lounge crap

Speaking of sencha…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Seikai Beppu L Room self made sencha ceremony

Lucky stayed at the Hoshinoya Kyoto, a modern ryokan, back in 2012, and said it was nice, but commented that the service wasn’t as warm as what he received from the three Indian Amans he stayed at prior. He said that service was friendly, but was uniform (unlike Amans, where they actually know who you are and take care of you).

This hotel was a little different, but not to the point of what you (I guess) get at Amans. All the regular staff were uniformly friendly and bowed though didn’t engage in small talk. However, the GM did, and asked us where we lived, and although his English wasn’t that good, he remembered us and asked how our sleep was/etc. every time.

It’s worth noting that one waiter (the one during our night at Gen) was rather insincere.

homesweethome

Seikai Beppu service

Bottom line on Seikai Beppu

The Seikai Beppu is a pricey ryokan that’s pretty much worth the price. Although the rooms were cramped, I liked pretty much everything else.

I’d definitely come here again.

Advertisements

One thought on “Review: Kyushu Karnival – Seikai Beppu”

  1. Hello,

    I was researching about Seikai and came across your page. Lovely pictures! I am thinking of staying here, but wasn’t too sure as the only room I is left. The onsen tub looks really small. How was the public ones around the ryokan?
    We do not like crowdy places so this is good?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s