What a classy place for a soak. The onsen is not really what I envisioned as a traditional onsen but being I didn’t have time to go into the countryside for a more traditional ryokan onsen (this trip) hotel monterey was a great initiation.
The hotel lobby is top notch and high end and very welcoming. The onsen is open to non hotel guests and it’s on the 13th floor (guess that’s not an unlucky number in this country!)
Once I got there I had to remove my shoes immediately and place in a locker. They are very warm and welcoming and helped me to choose the right package. I picked a $5800 yen package of onsen use and foot massage with one free drink.
They don’t speak much English but more than enough to get the rules across. They escorted me back a luxurious and modern hallway to the men’s locker room to change and gave me a key for my locker. The Locker key is also how they know what you order in the lounge so don’t lose it.
I changed out of all my clothes. Yes I had to be completely nude. I did take a towel for the shower. However even the shower is open to viewing and just a bucket and a sprayer and soap (not that luxurious) but I stood and rinsed down. Anyone could see all but that’s part of the experience. No point in being bashful. Japanese seem to be very strict about onsen rules. I could not go in there clothed other than a towel to cover myself when I was walking around and once I got in the bath I had to be nude. Not even a towel can touch the water.
So I took a quick shower and soaked for a while before getting up to leave. Very relaxing and hot. The locker room has a toilet and full sets of amenity kits with toothbrushes soaps, etc. Very convenient. Very much like a spa in the US. Just with an outdoor bath that you can’t be dressed for. (They also don’t allow people with tattoos for fear of yakuza gang activity.)
After the soak I went to the very luxurious lounge where you can lay on comfortable lounge chairs and prop your feet up to an amazing view of all of Kyoto. I was treated to a thunderstorm show from my chair (thanks Mother Nature).
Then I ordered some drinks and food and enjoyed a very needed 30 min foot massage.
It was the PERFECT end to a day that started at 4am and including walking more than 10 miles. I stayed almost to closing at 8pm.
The staff was warm and friendly at every point. I will definitely return if I come back to Japan and hopefully expand to a countryside full ryokan onsen experience next time.
They even gave me a free umbrella when they saw it was raining. I had no idea it was even raining!