Tucked away from Mito City’s main roads lies Ibaraki’s premier place for luxury and comfort: the Mito Plaza Hotel. Nestled between lazily swaying trees, the hotel’s majestic, domed tower rises to peek out over the foliage. Spending one night here—much less a lifetime—will leave you wishing you could extend your stay thanks to the ornate décor, kind staff, and supreme onsite facilities.
John David Edison (Thomas Edison’s great-grandson) took charge of the interior design of the Mito Plaza Hotel, and his careful balance of color and light steeps the halls in a velvety glow—like Edison’s filament. Mirrors on the walls bounce light through the lobby shrouding everything in a vermilion glow reminiscent of torii gates standing against a mountaintop. The bold palette creates a lattice-work of Japanese and Western sensibilities, and the fusing motifs give travelers a sense of excitement as they approach the front desk.
Before retiring to your room, head to the second floor’s lounge area where you can indulge in a complimentary cocktail or soft drink. The plush furniture and carefully arranged flowers make this the perfect place to recuperate after a day of sightseeing at Ibaraki Prefecture’s famous locations like Hitachi Seaside Park. Pearly lamps and natural sunlight beam down from the broad sunroof illuminating the lounge. Looking over the balcony rail, you can see a bird’s-eye view of the Atrium Garden.
When I first stepped into the Atrium Garden, for a brief moment I thought I was outside. The various palm and papyrus trees keep the air fresh with the perfume of petrichor, and the high roof insulates you from the elements without interrupting the sky. Homages to ancient Rome aren’t lost in the gentle, white floors and walls with arched doors on every side. However, the distinctive unvarnished wood in the atrium's Japanese-style café won’t let you forget that you’re in the ‘Land of the Rising Sun’.
Room types vary by Single, Double, Twin (can accommodate three people in separate beds), two types of twin rooms with Jacuzzis (“A-type” includes a living room), Junior Suite, and Plaza Suite (comes with a living room, dining room that seats 8, and kitchen). Each room persists in creating perfect harmony between Japanese and Western styles. The beds are wide with fluffy blankets, but the headboards resemble fusuma—Japanese sliding doors you might see in a traditional Japanese inn. The furnishings also give a sense of mid-20th century meets the new millennium with its employment of vanity tables and flat-screen TVs.
Jacuzzi Twin A
Upon entering your accommodations, you’ll immediately find green tea and coffee provided in your room. A note to my fellow coffee drinkers: while green tea can often be found in Japanese hotel rooms, coffee isn’t so commonplace. Most of the time, you’ll have to head to the front lobby or restaurant to take your first sip of that sweet, morning pick-me-up. In the bathroom, you’ll find a plethora of toiletries including the desirable Shiseido brand facial products and a skin-enriching bath bomb to use at your discretion. You might think all this opulence comes at a high price, but surprisingly the rates for the Mito Plaza Hotel are comparable to mid-quality hotels in Tokyo.
Personally, the most exciting part of my room was the electronic panel on my nightstand. Not only could I set my alarm clock, but I could also control every light in the room and open and close the curtains without even picking my head up from the feather pillows.
Shisen Han Ten
The Mito Plaza Hotel is located 15 minutes away from the JR Mito Station (a free shuttle is available), but you don’t have to venture into the city for a delicious meal. You can choose from six eateries within the hotel. The Yoshikawa restaurant serves Japanese food for lunch from 11:00-14:30 and dinner from 17:00-22:00. If you want a show with your meal, go to Teppanyaki Jin to watch master chefs prepare a course steak meal before your eyes. If you’re tired of eating Japanese food every day, try Shisen Han Ten for Chinese or the Rose Terrace Restaurant for French-Italian fusion. Note that the Rose Terrace Restaurant is the only place that serves breakfast. If you don’t want a full meal, go to Sweets Boutique Palette for cake and coffee, or the Café and Bar Plaza in the Atrium Garden which serves afternoon tea, snacks, and alcohol in the evening.
In addition to being an excellent place to stay during an overnight trip from Tokyo, the Mito Plaza Hotel is famous among Ibaraki’s locals as the best place to hold a wedding due to its several rental banquet rooms and theaters. During your stay, especially in June, you might get lucky and see a Shinto wedding!