Review: JW Marriott Nara

Room Type
Executive Suite
Elite Status
Marriott Platinum
Date
September 2022
Rating

 

We visited the JW Marriott Nara during a quick side-trip to Nara between our time exploring Kyoto and Osaka.

The property recently opened in July 2020, marking the JW Marriott brand’s debut in Japan and the first international luxury hotel in the city of Nara.

We were looking forward to a quieter stay here at the JW Marriott Nara, breaking up the two bigger metropolises in the Kansai Region that we’d be exploring on either side.

In This Post

JW Marriott Nara – Booking

I booked this stay using a Marriott Free Night Award worth 50,000 Marriott Bonvoy points from my partner Jessy’s account. I topped it up with 6,000 additional points, for a total award cost of 56,000 points.

Cash rates at the JW Marriott Nara can become quite expensive during peak season, as Nara is a very popular destination for both foreign and domestic tourists.

We happened to be visiting during a long weekend, so at the time of our visit, cash rates were upwards of ¥80,000 ($758 CAD).

Regular rates for a room here typically fall around ¥50,000–60,000 ($470–565 CAD) per night – somewhat lower, but still quite pricey.

If booking with Marriott Bonvoy points, you can expect to pay 44,000–60,000 points per night. Based on our current valuation of 0.9 cents per point, booking on points could definitely be a worthwhile redemption.

My redemption worth 56,000 points was just about what I would’ve expected this property to charge. Plus, the fact that I had a Free Night Award that was due to expire in December 2022 floating around made this an opportune time to use it up.

JW Marriott Nara – Location

The city of Nara was once the capital of Japan in the 8th century. It’s now home to some of Japan’s oldest temples and gardens, centred around the famous Nara Park.

The JW Marriott Nara is centrally located in Nara’s business and political centre, a fair distance from Nara Park. However, a tourist bus is accessible from the stop just opposite the hotel, making it relatively easy to get to Nara Park.

I’d say the JW Marriott is definitely one of the best hotels in the city if you’re visiting Nara. You may not be right at the doorstep of Nara Park, but it’s still easily accessible via the tourist bus.

If you’re coming into Nara from Kyoto or Osaka, the closest train station to the hotel is Shin-Omiya Station on the Kintetsu Nara Line. It’s about a 10-minute walk from the train station to the hotel.

However, the hotel has a free shuttle bus that runs every 30 minutes to Kintetsu Nara Station on the Kintetsu Nara line. This station is one stop beyond the Shin-Omiya, and is a more central hub closer to Nara Park.

JW Marriott Nara – Shuttle bus

If you happen to have a lot of luggage, it may be worth taking the train into the Kintetsu Nara station and taking the shuttle bus.

Meanwhile, if you’re flying to Nara from within Japan, Osaka Itami Airport is where most domestic flights fly into. It’s a 40-minute journey to the JW Marriott Nara from here by car.

For international travellers, Osaka Kansai International Airport is about an hour’s journey to the hotel.

JW Marriott Nara – Check-in

The property’s exterior is a dark steel façade, but upon entering the hotel, the lobby of the JW Marriott Nara has a bright, inviting, and serene atmosphere.

JW Marriott Nara – Exterior
JW Marriott Nara – Entrance
JW Marriott Nara – Lobby lounge

The wood-filled space features a seating area with light furnishings. Then, marble-clad check-in desks are nestled at the back between tall bookshelves and nature-inspired artwork on the wall.

JW Marriott Nara – Lobby lounge
JW Marriott Nara – Lobby lounge
JW Marriott Nara – Check-in desks

You’ll notice a consistent contemporary Japanese elegance throughout the hotel, with plenty of motifs representative of the famous freely roaming deer at Nara Park.

JW Marriott Nara – Deer motif

If you’re a Platinum Elite or above member, you’ll experience elevated service here at the JW Marriott Nara. I was quite impressed with our treatment upon arriving at the hotel as a Platinum Elite member on the booking. 

As an elite member, you’ll be invited the Executive Lounge to complete the check-in process there. In our case, we were proactively offered a glass of sparkling wine as we completed our check-in.

JW Marriott Nara – Executive Lounge sparkling wine

We were generously upgraded to the Executive Suite for this stay. Furthermore, we were also offered 4pm late check-out as part of our elite benefits.

As it turns out, our upgraded suite would be occupied the following day, so we were offered the use of a separate room for our 4pm late check-out. We had only wanted the late check-out as a matter of convenience, so we declined and told the staff we didn’t want to trouble them too much.

However, the hotel’s gesture was greatly appreciated. Too many hotels will insist on not offering a 4pm late check-out if you’ve been upgraded to a suite, because they don’t want to bother offering a new room. I was impressed with the JW Marriott Nara going above and beyond, and this was certainly a very positive start to our stay.

We were handed our keys, and made our way to Room 316 on the third floor.

JW Marriott Nara – Hallway
JW Marriott Nara – Room 316

JW Marriott Nara – Executive Suite

I think the Executive Suite would be within reach as an upgrade option for a Platinum, Titanium, or Ambassador Elite member staying at this hotel.

However, I do think it’s worth noting that we may have had an easier time securing this particular upgrade on the account that the hotel knew in advance that we were coming.

The suite features a refreshing palette of natural tones, with touches of grey and muted blues. The furnishings were elegant, with abstract art dotted throughout the living space and bedroom.

The suite opens up to a spacious living area. Upon entry, a dining area is to the right, and a Nespresso coffee maker sits in the pantry on the left.

JW Marriott Nara – Executive Suite living area
JW Marriott Nara – Executive Suite dining table

Moving further into the living area, the room features a long, quilted couch and two armchairs centred around a modern glass coffee table. Two leather ottomans provide additional options for seating.

JW Marriott Nara – Executive Suite living area
JW Marriott Nara – Executive Suite living area

The welcome gift waiting for us on the coffee table was highly impressive. The hotel had printed Prince of Travel logos on the macarons using the hotel’s new food printer, which was a much-appreciated gesture.

A large flat-screen TV sits on a decorative wall that separates the living area from the bedroom.

The bedroom of the Executive Suite is situated on the corner of the building, with beautiful corner views overlooking the city. This was one of my favourite features of the suite.

JW Marriott Nara – Executive Suite view

The king bed is the room’s centrepiece, with a grand abstract headboard and leather bench at the foot of the bed.

JW Marriott Nara – Executive Suite bedroom
JW Marriott Nara – Executive Suite bedroom

The bed is accompanied by two contemporary gold accent lights hanging over marble-clad bedside tables.

JW Marriott Nara – Executive Suite bed

A reading chair sits in the right-hand corner of the room, adjacent to the flat-screen TV.

On the right side of the TV are a plush, rich brown chaise longue and a small drink table.

JW Marriott Nara – Executive Suite chaise longue & drink table

Between the bedroom and the main bathroom is an open area with a makeup table. Here, you’ll also find a walk-in closet.

JW Marriott Nara – Executive Suite make up table & walk-in closet area
JW Marriott Nara – Executive Suite make up table
JW Marriott Nara – Executive Suite walk-in closet

The bathroom of the suite is opulent, adorned in marble. The space features a double vanity and separate chambers for the shower and toilet.

JW Marriott Nara – Executive Suite bathroom
JW Marriott Nara – Executive Suite vanity

The bathroom features a striking soaker tub, which is also encased in marble.

JW Marriott Nara – Executive Suite bathtub

Moreover, the suite features another half-bathroom near the entryway with a single vanity.

JW Marriott Nara – Executive Suite half-bathroom

Overall, I was mightily satisfied with the Executive Suite at the JW Marriott Nara. Based on my impressions in this higher-tier suite, I’d imagine the base rooms and junior suites are also quite impressive indeed.

JW Marriott Nara – Breakfast

Breakfast is hosted downstairs at Silk Road Dining. It was quite a busy space, especially as it was the long weekend.

JW Marriott Nara – Silk Road Dining entrance

We had to wait a while before being seated, but we were kindly invited to take a seat in the lobby nearby and have a coffee before being invited in to have breakfast.

The restaurant has a beautifully sophisticated interior, with timber beams and modern motifs. High ceilings and floor-to-ceiling windows allow plenty of natural light to pour into the space.

JW Marriott Nara – Silk Road Dining seating

The breakfast offering includes a customizable à la carte menu for your eggs, and then a comprehensive buffet to go along with it. I generally have high expectations for a JW Marriott breakfast in Asia, and this one certainly didn’t disappoint.

At the buffet, there was a Japanese rice bowl station with all the trimmings, as well as congee and miso soup.

Moreover, the buffet was jam-packed with other breakfast staples such as Asian-style bowls and Western-style pancakes, waffles, salads, and an abundance of pastries.

The hotel also seems to have a “thing” for sparkling wine, as we were offered a glass to go along with breakfast.

While we’ve been guilty of overindulging in breakfast mimosas out in the Maldives, we were feeling less enthusiastic to drink at breakfast prior to a day out at Nara Park.

On the whole, breakfast at the JW Marriott Nara left us satisfied and well-energized for the day ahead.

Although JW Marriott is on the more approachable end of the luxury hotels, the Nara location’s breakfast offering was no shabbier than the other luxury hotels we visited on this trip.

JW Marriott Nara – Executive Lounge

The Executive Lounge was a warm and inviting space with a nice ambiance, situated on the second floor. The design features warm woods with bold gold accents and bespoke lighting fixtures.

JW Marriott Nara – Executive Lounge entrance
JW Marriott Nara – Executive Lounge lobby
JW Marriott Nara – Executive Lounge seating

In the centre of the lounge was a more relaxed section, with two large couches and a few armchairs next to petrified solid wood coffee tables.

JW Marriott Nara – Executive Lounge seating
JW Marriott Nara – Executive Lounge seating
JW Marriott Nara – Executive Lounge seating

Then there were three-person and two-person seats dotted through the rest of the lounge. Overall, it was a nice spot to sit and relax, or to get some work done.

JW Marriott Nara – Executive Lounge seating

The lounge was open from 12pm until late at the time of our visit, but may be open for breakfast too once the hotel’s occupancy grows full with Japan’s reopening to international travellers

The lounge’s evening spread was pretty good, with a fair mix of Japanese and Western foods. However, I do wish it was a bit more comprehensive with Japanese specialties.

Nonetheless, it was a decent offering, which came alongside a nice drink selection as well. Plus, the lounge staff are always enthusiastic to offer you some sparkling wine. 

JW Marriott Nara – Executive Lounge drink selection

On that note, the staff were very professional and friendly each time we visited. Overall, service at this hotel couldn’t have been warmer and more welcoming.

JW Marriott Nara – Other Facilities

In addition to breakfast, Silk Road Dining is open for lunch and dinner. The restaurant offers a fusion of Eastern and Western cuisine.

Azekura is the signature restaurant at the JW Marriott Nara, where reservations are required. The offerings consist of teppanyaki, sushi, and kaiseki served in a designated space distinct from lunch and dinner.

Lastly, the Flying Stag is the restaurant’s bar. Here you can find a wide selection of traditional teas and pastries, along with your choice of alcoholic drinks.

JW Marriott Nara – Flying Stag bar

The fitness centre and spa are located on the fourth floor of the hotel.

JW Marriott Nara – Fitness centre entrance
JW Marriott Nara – Spa entrance

The fitness centre features a good range of equipment, including treadmills, ellipticals, bikes, free weights, and benches. Jessy and I went down for a quick workout and found it to be a good space to work up a sweat.

JW Marriott Nara – Fitness centre
JW Marriott Nara – Fitness centre
JW Marriott Nara – Fitness centre

The spa features an indoor plunge pool, a jacuzzi in the corner, and lounge chairs dotted around the room.

JW Marriott Nara – Indoor pool
JW Marriott Nara – Indoor pool

It seemed like a nice place to take a dip, although there are no views or windows from this indoor space. Moreover, it was a popular spot for families to frolic about, and we saw many here over the course of the long weekend.

Conclusion

The JW Marriott Nara is an excellent new luxury property with a central location in Nara, conveniently situated along the bus route to Nara Park and its many tourist attractions.

If you’re like many Nara tourists who are eager to interact with the famous deer in the park, the convenient shuttle across the street makes the JW Marriott a worthy home base.

On this stay, our Executive Suite had a chic aesthetic, with classic JW Marriott ambience and stunning corner views.

Plus, between going above and beyond to offer us a 4pm late checkout in a separate room and proactively offering sparkling wine at every meal sitting, the distinguished service here at the JW Marriott Nara did not go unnoticed.

Overall, I was highly impressed with this new JW Marriott property, and would certainly recommend staying here if you find yourself in this part of Japan.

 

 

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