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“Like an Art Museum- A MUST!”

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River Retreat Garaku
Ranked #4 of 69 Hotels / Ryokan in Toyama
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed 5 June 2016

This hotel is a must if you ever need to stopover in Toyama. The surrounding area was not very interesting but once we stepped inside the hotel, we just WOW all the way to our room. The hotel was like a contemporary art museum with artsy objects and decorations everywhere. The interior of the hotel was really chic - a cool lobby accented in black and white, a cute loft library, marvellously designed stairways…even the souvenir shop was very unique. The hotel is situated along a river and the ambience of the hotel was very relaxing. There was a large bar/lounge area where you can hang out and help yourself to free flow of coffee, tea and soft drinks while enjoying a soothing view of the river. If that's not enough, there are 3 or 4 massage chairs as well as foot massagers outside the public baths in the basement to help you unwind. Our room was beautiful, it was modern and nicely designed. I love the bathroom which has a lovely bathtub overlooking the river.

Hotel staff were very polite and friendly. Upon check-in, female guests were asked to pick out a Kimono of their choice to be worn inside the hotel during their stay. This was nothing new to us, but it was the first time a hotel offered to assist guests if they don't know how to "wear" it. Out of curiosity I requested for assistance and a cheery female staff came to my room and helped me tie a beautiful bow in the back. It looked very nice! One minor issue, the check-in staff forgot to tell us about the free heated stone room (see attached photo), we only found out ourselves much later. By the time we tried to make a reservation it was already fully booked :(

Last but not least, the dinner and breakfast. They were simply exquisite! We had our own private dining room which was beautiful itself and the food was a feast both to the eye and to the stomach. On both occasions we were under the care of 2 servers who spoke perfect English (they studied overseas) and both were most courteous and attentive.

A truly memorable stay!

Room Tip: Pick a room with river view
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  • Stayed: May 2016, travelled as a couple
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    • Cleanliness
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2  Thank TPHK
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
リバーリトリート雅楽倶, 支配人 at River Retreat Garaku, responded to this reviewResponded 24 June 2016

Dear TPHK san

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10 - 14 of 126 reviews

Reviewed 15 November 2015 via mobile

We specifically chose this hotel as it looked gorgeous in pics in terms of interior decor and it is in Toyama where we could go to Tateyama easily.

It proved that we chose it correctly as it does not only have the good hardware, but excellent software too!!!

The lobby was stunning with a extremely high ceiling and contemporary decor with a fireplace and a nice view of the river. We were served with welcome drinks upon arrival and they serve free non alcoholic drinks at their designer cafe and bar too. They also have a library on 2nd floor and a terrace on roof top and you can find a lot of interesting art pieces within the whole hotel. Most staff speak English.

We chose the room called 'Thinking Red' as this is the only room with a private sauna and jacuzzi bath! It is huge at 150 sqm and has a outdoor terrace where we could relax in front of a nice river view after sauna and jacuzzi bath! It also has a lounge bed (size of a double bed) and a massage chair for you to relax at the living room! The only areas for improvement are that the shower water pressure can be a bit higher to give a more comfortable shower and the bathroom amenities could be further upgraded to make it a really luxurious hotel.

We had our first dinner at the Japanese restaurant and both food in presentation and quality was excellent except that the portion could be a bit larger since some other guests and we had to take 3-4 bowls of rice to fill up our stomachs! Service staff were all excellent especially Takashi Ito (Charles) who can not only speak fluent English but also very professional and flexible that he specially arranged us Western breakfast on our last day! Breakfast was good too, both Japanese and western ones!

On 2nd night, we arranged dinner at the French restaurant Levo. Although I can't say it's really French cuisine, the decor, food presentation and food quality really gave a wow effect! The forks, knives and spoons are in the drawer of your table, the bread looks like leaves, 3 other kinds of bread made from rice and wheat, etc. They don't only look nice and different but taste really good too!!!

3 things for improvement to be one of the best restaurants would be:

1. they could have more staff who can speak better English
2. our prearranged champagne could have been better coordinated
3. A better kind of beef, for example Hidagyu or other Japanese wagyu beef, with a bigger portion, could make it a perfect meal for us and all!

Anyway, the whole staying and dining experiences were excellent and certainly we will be back!!!

Stayed: November 2015, travelled as a couple
2  Thank jaqu1324
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
リバーリトリート雅楽倶, 支配人 at River Retreat Garaku, responded to this reviewResponded 3 December 2015

Dear Mr. jaqu1324
Thank you for staying with us. We also appreciate you posting your feedback and review. We will use your feedback to make future stays even more enjoyable. We hope you will continue to stay with us when you visit Japan again.

River Retreat GARAKU
General Manager
Daisuke Matsumiya

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Reviewed 29 December 2014

Beautiful boutique ryokan located in the middle of Toyama, with a spectacular river view especially in the winter. If you are into japanese art, history and ceramics, the hotel's collection will certainly keep you occupied.

The hotel is half an hour away from Toyama JR station and you can get the hotel to arrange a one-way shuttle at JPY 2200.

I recommend one of the 4 ground level suites - I stayed in both room 114 which was a mega suite with two tatami rooms and room 111 which was a traditional tatami style room. There were private pathways with tastefully done sculpture gardens before entering into the suites. Both suites are accompanied with a huge-*ss sink and toilet areas before leading into warm, steamy private onsen and shower rooms overlooking the river. We were also spoilt with piped in jazz or japanese music in the onsen areas, and the option of choosing new yukatas and obi sashes to wear from a colourful selection every day. The "special menu" at L'Evo (where you have your daily dinner) was also a unique blend of japanese and western flavours.

However, the main drawback of the place is a lack of staff who could speak English well, and an overall service inclination towards domestic tourists. It was very difficult to communicate where we wanted to go, or what we wanted to do. There was a wide selection of CDs at the front desk but everything was in Japanese! At L'Evo, we appreciated that the waitress tried to explain each course and making conversation, but she was not able to remember the names of some of the items and had to go back and check or just apologise for not remembering. I guess it makes sense given Toyama is not that touristy, but we would have hoped that a boutique 5/6 star-ish hotel would have made better concessions for non-Japanese tourists.

Also do note that the hotel closes on all Wednesdays so no rooms will be available then.

Room Tip: Choose one of the ground level suites (there are only four in the new wing I believe). Hard to beat...
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  • Stayed: December 2014, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Service
1  Thank Maccie2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
リバーリトリート雅楽倶, 支配人 at River Retreat Garaku, responded to this reviewResponded 25 September 2015

Dear Ms.Maccie2
It has been a while since you stayed at River Retreat Garaku. Due to the fact that TripAdvisor's reply function has been available since September 17th, 2015, we are now able to send thank you messages. We are very grateful that you stayed with us in 2014. We would also like to thank you for writing a comment about us on TripAdvisor. We sincerely apologize for having caused you any inconvenience when you stayed with us, because we only had a few staff members who spoke English. Now, we have added two more staff who can assist guests in English and we have two more employees who are being diligently trained in English conversation. In the future, we will continue putting forth more effort and making other changes, thereby providing foreign guests with a more comfortable stay. The next time you have the chance to visit Japan, we would greatly appreciate it, if you would consider staying with us one more time. We are looking forward to seeing you again.


River Retreat Garaku
General Manager
Daisuke Matsumiya

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Reviewed 21 July 2014

This ultramodern ryokan near Toyama has much to commend it. Scattered through the hotel are many exceptional modern ceramics, complementing some very good design.
The fairly new french / japanese restaurant, L'Evo, offers a very creative interpretation of kaiseki and the flavour combintions show flashes of brilliance that suggest that the chef is highly talented. It will be interesting to see what he can offer in a few years time. On two consecutive nights we we offered totally different menus, both excellent. A little more choice of wines by the glass would be welcome.
Unfortunately when we reserved the hotel via The Ryokan Collection they did not make it clear that the standard rooms do not have bathrooms and thus a shower means a trip to the basement spa to use communal facilities with no privacy. To a european who last used a public shower at high school the absence of even a basic shower room for each bedroom was a surprise, particularly as the hotel pricing is towards the high end for a ryokan far from tourist centers such as kyoto. The Ryokan Collection was unhelpful when we comlained though the hotel did very graciously upgrade us to a room with a bath. Full marks to the hotel but a minus to the booking organisation.

Room Tip: Avoid the standard rooms at all cost
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  • Stayed: July 2014, travelled as a couple
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2  Thank muchtravelled001
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
リバーリトリート雅楽倶, 支配人 at River Retreat Garaku, responded to this reviewResponded 25 September 2015

Dear Ms.muchtravelled001
Starting from September 17, 2015, a reply feature has become available on TripAdvisor, and although it has been some time since your visit, we are taking this opportunity to send you a short message of thanks. We hope this message will not be seen as an imposition, but we would like to sincerely thank you for your visit in 2014 to the River Retreat Garaku. Also, we would like to apologize for the trouble you experienced on your arrival due to the error on the part of the travel agency. On your next visit, we would like to invite you to contact the hotel directly. We will be able to offer you an excellent room and experience. With the recent extension of the Shinkansen bullet train to Toyama as well as the opening of a new outlet mall, Toyama has even more to offer than before. We hope that you will visit us again the next time you are in Japan.

River Retreat Garaku
General Manager
Daisuke Matsumiya

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Reviewed 1 May 2014

The visit of this very modern and art inspired place is worth it . The surprise is the food that outperforms most of the 3 star Michelin we have been in Tokyo.The breakfast is fantastic and the service is also outstanding. If you want to visit Gokayama better organize beforehand

  • Stayed: April 2014, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
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1  Thank Klaus F
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
リバーリトリート雅楽倶, 支配人 at River Retreat Garaku, responded to this reviewResponded 25 September 2015

Dear Nicolas B
While it has been a while since you stayed with us, starting from September 17, 2015, we are able to use the reply function in TripAdvisor, and we would like to thank you for your note of appreciation. Thank you for staying with us in 2014. We are also thankful for your kind words of praise. River Retreat Garaku is a place where you can enjoy Japan's four seasons if you rent a car, being about one hour by car from Tateyama Alpen Route, Kanazawa, Gokayama, and outlet malls, and about one and a half hour by car to Hidatakayama. We look forward to having you stay with River Retreat Garaku again during your next visit to Japan.


River Retreat Garaku
General Manager
Daisuke Matsumiya

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about River Retreat Garaku

Address: 56-2 Kasuga, Toyama 939-2224, Toyama Prefecture
Phone Number:
Region: Japan > Chubu > Toyama Prefecture > Toyama
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beverage Selection Fitness Centre with Gym / Workout Room Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Shuttle Bus service Spa Suites Swimming Pool Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
Ranked #4 of 69 Hotels / Ryokan in Toyama
Price Range: S$326 - S$1,591 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:4 star — River Retreat Garaku 4*
Number of rooms: 25
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
we've been awarded "four red pavilion, the best comfort hotel" by the Michelin Guide 2016 Toyama • Ishikawa. River Retreat Garaku is a luxury boutique hotel situated on the Jinzu ("Path of the Gods") River in the forested foothills of the Northern Japan Alps. In this sublime setting outside central Toyama City you are enveloped in the unique Japanese aesthetic of nature and art, all within a modern architectural masterpiece. Ever present views of the timeless hills and river are brought through dramatic windows into the lobby, restaurants and guest rooms, which are filled with stunning sight lines, quiet spaces and exquisite art. The spring fed baths, cedar tubs, and colors of traditional Japan are paired with more than 300 pieces of contemporary Japanese art from the owner's extraordinary collection. With only 25 very spacious rooms and suites, each with a different decor, large common spaces, multiple onsen (spa) and aromatherapy facilities, and two exceptional restaurants with traditional Japanese and French/Japanese fusion cuisines, Garaku emphasizes personal attention, relaxation and privacy. L'evo or Evolution is the new nouvelle cuisine French/Japanese fusion restaurant at Garaku where the world class seafood of Toyama Bay and local mountain vegetables are brilliantly combined for a total culinary and aesthetic experience. At Garaku's Japanese restaurant Rakumi ("Enjoy the Taste") you can experience the best of washoku, the traditional Japanese cuisine UNESCO has designated a world cultural asset. Here the chef blends Kanto (Tokyo) and Kansai (Osaka) styles in delectable presentations of elegant simplicity where every ingredient can be savored. Whether you are looking for a memorable experience away from the pressures of the city, want to avoid the rule bound atmosphere of a traditional ryokan or want a romantic getaway, Garaku invites you to come, be pampered, and relax. Imagine visiting the amazing home of a serious art collector where your every wish is granted. This is Garaku. Garaku is conveniently located 20 minutes from the Toyama Airport, 30 minutes from the Hokuriku Shinkansen (bullet train) at Toyama Station, or one hour from Kanazawa Station. ... more   less 
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