Benesse House is part of the art experience on the tiny island of Naoshima in Japan’s Setouchi Inland Sea. Naoshima is a famed art hub with contemporary artworks scattered across the island’s rural landscape and some of the surrounding islands. The hotel itself is a fusion of architecture, art, and nature.
Designed by renowned architect Tadao Anda, the hotel is creative and luxurious. It’s all light wood, concrete, and glass, very clean in a minimal Zen-meets-Scandinavia way. The 65 guestrooms have different designs, but each has an original piece in the room by the same leading artists whose works are on display in the adjoining museum. You can wake up to a James Turrell print on the wall and a view of the Yayoi Kusama pumpkin through the window (hopefully!). All the rooms have floor to ceiling windows offering fantastic view of the sea or the art-filled gardens.
On a practical note, the hotel offers shuttle bus service to all the sites on the island for its guests. There’s a spa on site and two restaurants – yes they are expensive (we admit we pack a few snacks in our luggage). A special perk of staying at Benesse House is the after-hours access to the museum – we like to revisit the museum after dark when the art installations take on a completely different aspect.
A splurge for sure but this hotel is on our list for its strong sense of place.
We’ll be staying at the Benesse House on the Coastlines, Colours, and Cultures tour of South Japan, November 7 – 20, 2022, with study leader Paula Swart.