By Jaime Wong
Most travelers to Kumamoto flock to the handful of hotels that pepper the downtown castle area of the city, such as the Nikko chain and the Castle Hotel with views of Kumamoto's fortress on the hill above. But for those who may want something a little quieter and equally luxurious, the ANA New Sky Hotel is an excellent option.
The ANA New Sky Hotel is part of the Crowne Plaza Hotel Group, so you have the assurance of quality that staying at a major international chain implies as well as multiple English speakers on staff. The hotel is located just a few stops on the city tram line from Kumamoto station, the building itself is just a minute or two from the Gionbashi tram stop. While the location may seem a bit out of the way at first glance, its riverside setting allows for some excellent views from the upper floor guest rooms as well as easy access to the Shirakawa walking and biking paths. If you arrive by car, the onsite parking garage is only ¥1000 per day.
The guest rooms come with either king, twin or single beds with plenty of additional space to lay out luggage. Our twin room had a table and chairs and a long desk at which to set out both of our computers. The wi-fi service in the room was both fast and complimentary.
The hotel has a few restaurants, notably a Chinese/Italian joint venture (think various types of noodles with some pizza and appetizers thrown in the mix) as well as a classy Japanese joint. We opted for dinner one night in Kohrin, the Japanese restaurant, and enjoyed some perfectly battered tempura shrimp and vegetables as well as some cooling soba, perfect for the hot summer evening. For those just looking for a little liquid refreshment the Felice lounge offers drinks from just before lunch until 11:30pm.
While the ANA New Sky was not initially my first choice of hotels in Kumamoto, it turned out to be a very agreeable stay, with comfortable rooms, all the necessary amenities and a friendly and welcoming staff. You can book into the New Sky yourself through the main (global) Crowne Plaza website.
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