Benesse House is the most lavish accommodation on Naoshima Island, and the most expensive, but it is worth the splurge to stay here in order to enhance your stay on this Japanese art island, especially as it is attached to the Benesse House Museum.
The hotel itself is like an art gallery with sculptures located throughout the buildings and on the lawn, and with artwork hanging in the rooms and in the restaurants on-site. Being surrounded by amazing works of arts and incredible architecture allows guests an immersive experience while on this sleepy and unique Japanese art island.
Benesse House looks like something out of a Bond film and it was designed entirely by renowned Japanese architect Tadao Ando whose signature use of concrete, wood panelling and natural lighting is reflected in the other buildings found on Naoshima Island. There is the Ando Museum located in the Honmura district for those who are interested in learning more about the self-taught architect.
The modern Benesse House complex consists of four buildings: Museum, Oval, Park and Beach.
The Oval rooms are the most expensive and exclusive, and accessed by a monorail. The Museum rooms are located inside the Benesse House Museum and the Beach guest rooms are closest to the sparkling shoreline. The Park rooms have verandas that look out onto the lawn, which is speckled with colourful Japanese art installations.
The hotel service was impeccable and the Park room in which we stayed was modern and airy with views of the ocean in the distance. It was in our room that we saw our first artwork by artist James Turrell, and we now have a print from his exhibition that was held in Canberra framed on our wall at home.
Additionally, as a guest of Benesse House, you receive quite a few perks. Entrance to the Benesse Museum is free and you are allowed access to the museum at night after hours. There’s nothing quite like exploring a museum when there’s hardly anyone else around. Benesse House guests are also able to re-enter the Chichu Art Museum, Lee Ufan Museum, Art House Project, and the Ando Museum after purchasing an initial ticket. Benesse House also offer a shuttle bus that will pick you up from the Miyanoura Port when you arrive on Naoshima Island.
Most of our meals were taken at the hotel as there are limited dining options on the island. We ate at the sophisticated Museum Restaurant Issen which serves a traditional kaiseki menu (multi-course Japanese dinner). Other dining options also include the Terrace Restaurant, Museum Cafe and Park Lounge. The Oval Lounge is usually only open to Oval room guests but the bar is open on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights and we were able to catch the monorail up to the Oval for a cheeky cocktail after wandering around the Benesse House Museum. The Oval pond lit up at night is a spectacular sight.
Benesse House guests can also take advantage of the opportunity to take a dip in a work of art. The Cultural Melting Bath is an outdoor hot tub creating a space for people from different backgrounds to connect while soaking in the bath. The bath is open on Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays (closed December to February) from 4.00–5.00 pm and reservations need to be made in advance.
Although it is expensive, staying at Benesse House made our time on Naoshima Island even more enjoyable and added a welcome touch of romance and luxury to our stay. The price tag is well compensated by the service and quality of the accommodation, the exclusive activities and experiences offered to guests, and the overall convenience.
I would recommend this experience to anyone planning on visiting this delightful Japanese art island!
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