After checking out of the Hilton Tokyo, we boarded a Shinkansen to Osaka (I can’t say enough good things about the train system in Japan- why fly when the airports are so far from the city and the trains so convenient?), arriving in the early afternoon.
We’d be staying five nights at the Conrad Osaka, which cost a hefty 95,000 points per night (with the 5th night free). I had my reservations about the splurge, but looking back, the Conrad Osaka turned out to be the best hotel of our entire trip.
|🏨 tl;dr: Conrad Osaka
|The Conrad Osaka costs a pretty penny, but delivers on every front with stunning views, beautiful facilities, top-notch dining and impeccable service.
|👍 The Good
|👎 The Bad
|🌸 Popping My Cherry Blossom
Conrad Osaka: Arrival & Check-in
The Conrad Osaka is a fairly new hotel, opening in 2017 on the 33rd to 40th floors of the 200-metre tall Nakanoshima Festival Tower (the hotel’s tagline is “your address in the sky”, after all).
It’s directly connected to the Higobashi Station on the Yotubashi Line via underground passageway, and just one stop away from the bustling Umeda hub. The tourist hotspot/trap Namba is just three stops south (less than five minutes’ train time), and Osaka Castle is three stations east. If you’re taking a car, the hotel is 15 minutes from Itami Airport, and 45 minutes from Kansai Airport.
The ground floor lobby was relatively modest, with a decorative chandelier the main feature of interest. We were greeted warmly by the staff and relieved of our bags, before stepping into the elevator that shot us up to the 40th floor lobby so fast my ears popped.
Stepping out the lift, we were greeted by a sight that can only be described as jaw-dropping. The three-storey high glass windows offer captivating views of the Osaka skyline, and on a clear day you can see for miles (this is the fifth tallest building in all of Osaka, after all). The MileLioness and I literally gasped the first time we saw it.
For a closer look, approach the glass by descending a grand spiral staircase that forms a dramatic backdrop for couple photos, especially during the day when the whole area is bathed in warm sunlight.
The view is even more spectacular at night when the city lights up (although the glass reflects a lot of light from inside which means the photos won’t be great)
In keeping with the sky theme, the lobby is adorned with a cloud-like sculpture called Fu /Rai by Kyoto-based artist Kohei Nawa, which uses microbeads to express the gods of wind and thunder. An overhead staircase mirrors the painted steps on the floor, creating a Jacob’s ladder effect.
The lobby felt warm and inviting, with modern furniture and abundant natural light streaming in throughout the day.
No sooner had we finished gawking at the views that a staff member greeted us by name (they’d presumably been informed by the staff downstairs we were coming) and escorted us to the executive lounge to complete the check-in formalities. He gave us some brief history about the hotel along the way, and you could tell they were very proud of the hardware.
In the lounge, we were served hot towels and invited to take a seat or help ourselves to the afternoon tea, which had just begun when we arrived. I’ll talk more about the lounge later on in the review, suffice to say the service here was absolutely impeccable (can’t say the same about the wines though!).
The staff confirmed our Hilton Diamond benefits, including complimentary breakfast and a room upgrade, and provided a welcome letter detailing the executive lounge benefits and timings.
After our keys were issued, we went to check out the room.
Conrad Osaka: Executive Room
Conrad Osaka has a total of 164 rooms and suites, split into the following categories:
|No. of Rooms
|Premium View Room
|Executive Corner Room
|Executive Corner Suite
My points reservation booked into the lead-in Deluxe Room, but as a Hilton Diamond I was upgraded to an Executive Room.
Now, at the vast majority of hotels this would be a “nothing upgrade”, in the sense that Hilton Diamonds are already entitled to executive lounge access, and Executive Rooms are basically the same as lead-in rooms with maybe a token Nespresso machine.
Not at the Conrad Osaka, where Executive Rooms (66 sqm) are 30% larger than Deluxe Rooms (50 sqm). That’s a genuine upgrade, especially if you get one of the corner rooms with stunning wraparound views.
I loved the room design and its sophisticated grey and dark brown tones. It was practically the size of a suite, and there were acres of space to stretch out or repack luggage.
The king-sized bed was very comfortable, paired with high thread-count sheets and fluffy pillows. You can request alternative pillows if the default ones don’t suit you, including buckwheat and foam options.
On the bed were two small take-home gifts. Every Conrad has an animal mascot; at the Conrad Osaka it was a bear and a transparent bathtub duckie.
On one bedside table was a Bose SoundLink Mini wireless speaker, and on the other a tablet to control the room’s curtains and lights. Both bedsides had a Type-A charging outlet and a USB port.
The work desk had two chairs, allowing The MileLioness and I to work on our laptops at the same time. Everyone has a chair, we have two, my wife has one, I have one. We are professionals, we need to sit.
The 49″ HDTV could be pulled out and pointed towards the bed, or towards the living area as needed (though the picture would be a bit too small to watch from the living area). I managed to plug in a HDMI cable and use it as a second screen while working at the desk.
Wi-Fi speeds clocked in at 104 Mbps down and 86 Mbps up, more than sufficient for video streaming and calls.
A welcome gift of sake had been left on the table, specially brewed for Conrad Osaka.
In a corner of the room was a living area plus a dressing table with pop-up vanity mirror and power outlet, allowing you to dry your hair while seated.
Next to the sofa was a mini-bar with a Nespresso machine and capsules, TWG teabags and two bottles of mineral water, all of which were replenished daily.
The mini-bar was stocked with cans of Asahi beer, green tea, Coca Cola and Red Bull- all overpriced, as expected, but you could always visit the lounge and get these for free anyway.
Near the entrance to the room was an oversized walk-in wardrobe, with bathrobes, luggage racks and an ironing board.
The sleek and modern bathroom could be accessed through either the bedroom or wardrobe, with his and hers sinks, bulk-sized Byredo amenities and a Dyson hairdryer. Yes, a Dyson hairdryer, and they didnt even nail it to the wall!
The highlight was the large soaking tub and shower, located next to each other in the wet area. Water pressure was strong, and the tub filled up rapidly.
The toilet, of course, featured a TOTO bidet seat with wall-mounted controls.
Turn-down service is offered daily, with the staff leaving two sets of comfortable pyjamas plus a pot of hot water for chamomile tea, accompanied by rice crackers.
Conrad Osaka: Breakfast
Breakfast is served at Atmos restaurant from 6.30 a.m to 10.30 a.m daily
There’s no option to take it in the lounge, but that’s no real loss in my book. Since the hotel has only 164 rooms, the breakfast area never got very crowded, and besides, Atmos has some kliler views.
Breakfast is a full buffet, although guests can order coffee, eggs and a daily special plus noodle dish from the menu (unlimited servings).
Of the three hotels I stayed in during this trip (Conrad Osaka, Hilton Tokyo, Roku Kyoto), this was the best breakfast by a mile. My only complaint is that the items didn’t rotate as much as I would have liked- there were one or two changes each day, but by the end of the fifth day I was a little too familiar with the spread (though it was just as high quality as on the first day).
The hot food line had items like potatoes (incredibly crispy), blistered cherry tomatoes (that burst in your mouth with an alluring sweetness), sautéed mushrooms, bacon, sausage, grilled fish, and a carving station with juicy, medium-rare domestic beef.
Asian options included yakisoba, spring rolls dim sum and stewed pork, plus an extensive Japanese selection featuring albacore tuna and onsen eggs. What I loved to do was take some Japanese rice, slide an onsen egg onto it, tear up some seaweed and mix the whole thing together. Try it, it’s awesome.
There were also cold cuts, and the cured salmon was amazing. I later discovered from the F&B manager that they cure it in house, which explains why it was so much more moist and flavourful than the supermarket stuff.
Next to this table was another with fruits, yoghurt, nuts and cereals. It happened to be strawberry season when we visited, so the buffet line was piled high with them every morning.
There was a bakery section, and I loved the house-made croissants in particular. You should absolutely warm them up in the toaster oven (it has a croissant mode with more gentle heat so the outer layer doesn’t burn), and try them with the preserves and fancy butter.
Finally, there was a barista station, plus juices. Freshly-squeezed juices were also available on request, at no additional charge.
In addition to the buffet, there was a made-to-order chef’s special egg dish. There were two dishes that alternated during our five day stint: an okonomiyaki benedict and a parma ham benedict. Both were great (the okonomiyaki benedict in particular was an inspired idea), but as I said it would have been nice to see some additional choices.
You could also order a daily noodle option, which tended to be udon.
Conrad Osaka: Swimming Pool
The Conrad Osaka’s swimming pool is located on the 38th floor, and open from 6 a.m to 10 p.m daily. After registering at the reception area, you’ll walk down a minimalist, soft-lit corridor reminiscent of a spa. This passageway feels like it’s conveying you to a completely different world, and I have to believe that’s intentional.
As you swim in the 20-metre long heated pool, you’ll soak in floor-to-ceiling views of the city, while soft music plays in the background.
Pool staff would drape a towel over a chair as soon as you chose one, and bring bottled water.
Next to the swimming pool is a changing room with a heated whirlpool. The warm water was lovely, but I feel they missed a trick by frosting the windows. I suppose that’s because it’s a no clothing zone, but really, who could spy on you this high up?
Conrad Osaka: Gym
On the same floor as the pool is the gym, open 24 hours a day with some of the snazziest hardware I’ve seen in a hotel facility. In fact, it reminded me a little bit of The Clan Hotel in that most of the Techno-Gym equipment had a full entertainment suite and could connect with personal fitness apps. Even the strength-training units had screens, so you could see demos of how the exercises are meant to be done!
The gym was fully-stocked with water, fruit, sterilised headphones (you can connect your own Bluetooth headsets to the equipment though), and towels.
Conrad Osaka: Executive Lounge
The Conrad Osaka’s executive lounge is located on the 39th floor, and open from 11 a.m to 9 p.m daily.
Light snacks are served throughout the day (the banana bread was surprisingly good), together with TWG tea and coffee.
Afternoon tea is served from 3 p.m to 5 p.m daily, and features a range of savoury and sweet items. I don’t think it’s worth disrupting your plans to return to the hotel for, but if you’re around anyway, it’s a nice touch.
Evening cocktails are served from 6 p.m to 8 p.m daily. Reservations of 1-hour slots are required on the weekends, although the staff don’t enforce the limit if occupancy permits.
The food selection included fried rice, stir-fried vegetables, a soup and a seafood dish (a choice of four hot items were offered daily; the photos below are over a couple of days).
In addition to this, there were some cold items like salads, cheese and cold cuts, plus bread and a toaster.
An assortment of cakes rounded off the selection. I’d say this could be a dinner replacement for some, but you’re in Osaka, the culinary capital of Japan. Filling up here might not be the best idea.
While the food was fine, the wines were a big disappointment. There was a choice of one red, one white, and one sparkling, none of which retailed for more than S$15 or so (and tasted like it).
|Mapu Sauvignon Blanc Chardonnay 2021
|Mapu Cabernet Sauvignon 2021
|Espace Sparkling Brut
This was dire, and not at all what I expected from a Conrad. I mean, sure, maybe not champagne, but even a Chandon Brut would have been much better than this. In fact, at a restaurant back in Tokyo I saw the chef using Mapu as his cooking wine!
At least there were other options like sake and spirits (though again, the lack of a Japanese whiskey was a surprise).
The staff could mix simple cocktails on request, so I ignored the wine and just had whiskey highballs every evening.
Conrad Osaka: Dining
Conrad Osaka has four restaurants to choose from:
- 40 Sky Bar and Lounge (high tea and evening drinks)
- Atmos Dining (breakfast and all-day dining)
- C:GRILL (Western-style dining with crustacean bar)
- Kura (Japanese-style dining with sushi and teppanyaki counters)
I wasn’t originally intending to dine in the hotel, but then I remembered that Hilton Gold and Diamond members enjoy 25% off F&B, as part of Hilton’s Dine Like a Member offer. And since Kura seemed to have fairly good reviews (even by the notoriously harsh standards of Tabelog), I figured why not.
We ended up dining on two separate occasions: the first time, we visited the sushi bar at Kura (lunch menu | dinner menu) where a 8-piece nigiri set lunch with an amuse-bouche, side dish and dessert cost a very reasonable 6,600 JPY per person after discount. The quality, as expected, was exquisite.
This was an amazing experience, and I’d highly recommend topping up for the garlic fried rice. The chef steams it on the teppanyaki in front of you, and turns it into the most delicious mix of garlic and rice I’ve ever had. There’s some crazy alchemy going on here, and I love it.
Conrad Osaka: Service
The service at the Conrad Osaka was outstanding, especially from the executive lounge team. They were very responsive to requests for restaurant and activities recommendations, remembered guest names and preferences, and took a big interest in ensuring we were enjoying our stay.
During breakfast, the management team was highly visible, going from table to table to introduce themselves, provide recommendations and solicit feedback about the stay. This was in stark contrast to our next stay at the (even more expensive) Roku Kyoto, where management was completely absent.
Due to a billing error, the credit card that I provided during check-in was charged about S$1,000 (charged, not just a preauthorisation hold). I discovered this before check-out and raised it with the lounge team. They investigated and reversed the charge, and since I would be slightly out of pocket on the refund due to credit card FCY fees, the hotel gave me a 5,000 JPY credit against my dining expenses, which was more than fair.
I’ve not been to a lot of hotels that I would recommend without hesitation, but the Conrad Osaka would be one of them. From start to finish, this was an incredible stay: the room, the facilities, the lounge (wines excluded), the breakfast and the service were all top-notch.
It won’t come cheap, but you really get what you pay for.