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Review: The Ritz-Carlton, Fukuoka (2023) [Japan]
As someone who loves ramen, Fukuoka was one of the places in Japan that I had to visit since it’s the home of the iconic tonkotsu ramen. Meanwhile, I heard news of a Ritz-Carlton opening in Fukuoka in late June 2023 while I was planning my trip to Japan. It was a timely response to try out this new hotel for myself on my birthday week right after staying at the Mitsui in Kyoto!
My stay at The Ritz-Carlton Fukuoka began after it opened for a month, and I was curious how the first ever 5-star hotel in Fukuoka would be like.
Ritz-Carlton, Fukuoka- Booking
I booked 2 nights on the weekend by using a combination of 50k Free Night Certificate and Marriott points. Weekend rates tend to be higher, but I booked the hotel on the first day when award pricing was released, and they were still sorting themselves out. On one of the nights, the rate was 56,000 points, so I was able to top up my 50k certificate with 6k points. The other night is much steeper at 80k. If I was too late, I wouldn’t have been able to use my near-expiring 50k FNC!
The cash rate for this hotel can be close to $900 a night, especially on weekends, so points was the better way to book this hotel.
Ritz-Carlton, Fukuoka- Location
The Ritz-Carlton Fukuoka is located in the city’s Tenjin district. Tenjin is the business district of the city, but is also one of the centers of bustling yatai or night food stall scene that Fukuoka is known for, starting at 6pm. The other yatai center is in Nakasu, which has a riverfront view while you enjoy some nice street food. In my very limited opinion though, the Tenjin district’s yatai have better food compared to the ones in Nakasu. The hotel’s location is good enough to allow you to try out both for yourself!
A great nearby ramen place from the hotel is called Shin-Shin. I highly recommend that place as long as you’re willing to wait in a long line! Nearest subway station is the Tenjin Station which have the line that can take you to both Hakata Station for bullet trains or FUK airport in case you need to fly out of Fukuoka.
The property itself is attached to the Fukuoka Daimyo Garden City, a mixed use center consisting of offices, shops, man-made garden, and the Ritz-Carlton itself.
Ritz-Carlton, Fukuoka- Check-in
I arrived to Fukuoka from Kyoto at around 4pm through a limited express train, and then transfer in Shin-Osaka Station to ride the Nozomi train to Hakata Station. Nozomi train is the fastest shinkansen available, and it can take around 3 hours to get to Fukuoka from Osaka.
The entrance hall from the first floor have a modern Japanese design.
Hakata textiles are common decor pieces of this hotel, the Fukuoka-based fabrics used to make obi sash for yukatas and kimonos.
After getting on the elevator to the lobby, you’ll first see hanging folding paper decors on top of a stone zen garden.
Check-in was busy, so I had to check-in on one of the couches in the lobby instead of the regular reception desk to make it faster.
I was presented with this plum juice that was initially blue, but turned purple once stirred. Very cool and delicious!
Sadly, I could not get a suite upgrade, and the hotel was very busy on weekends, so my only upgrade option was the Hakata Bay View with 2 double beds instead of a king. I figured why not take the better view while sacrificing the king bed.
Lobby design feels minimalist but very modern.
Ritz-Carlton, Fukuoka- Deluxe Room, Hakata Bay View
I was escorted to Room 2224 using a separate elevator for the guest rooms, rooftop bar, and pool. Room hallways have similar feel to the lobby, but are still very elegant.
The room itself is spacious for a standard room at 50 sqm (~540 sqft).
Master controls of the room are by the beds. Very cool that they’re analogs, and they even come with USB-C outlets. It’s to be expected for a hotel that opened in 2023.
Next to the beds are the living area with a direct view of Fukuoka behind the tall glass windows. The couch that could serve as a sofa bed too.
Admittedly, the view of the Hakata Bay isn’t particularly interesting as Fukuoka have a lot of low-rise buildings, and the bay gave an industrial vibe to it and make the Ritz Carlton feel a bit out of the place.
The general manager left some gifts for my birthday, consisting of wafers filled with mochi, dorayaki (Japanese small pancakes), and a note.
Across the bed is the TV with internet TV settings. The low tables underneath look great, but that also means the only work table is by the window. Unless, you’re okay with working while sitting on the floor.
Minibar comes with complimentary water replenished daily, Nespresso machine, and dashi stocks to make your own soup using the kettle. I developed a bit of a sore throat at the time, so those felt like blessings!
The cutleries look fancy with gold coatings.
Closet space is plentiful to store your belongings. But, there’s no in-room umbrella, and you’d need to borrow one from the valet on the ground floor if you need it.
The pajamas by Derek Rose provided are some of the most comfortable pajamas that I’ve worn!
Deluxe Room Bathroom
The bathroom starts at the left of the entrance. It consists of sinks, vanity table, and shower plus tub room behind glass windows. Marble bathroom with bronze fixtures are consistent with the Japanese decors.
You can enjoy the outside view while showering or bathing.
Privacy sliders can be adjusted outside the bathroom, which is puzzling. Shouldn’t the person in the bathroom be the one who controls the privacy? Another hotel that does this is the Waldorf Astoria Las Vegas, but at least in the Ritz Carlton Fukuoka, all sides can be covered. It’s something to keep in mind if you plan to share rooms with an acquaintance.
Diptyque amenities is the standard for the Ritz-Carlton brand.
Toilet location is completely separate from the bathroom. The toilet is equipped with motion sensor and will open automatically when you approach it.
Overall, the room’s hardware are overall pretty impressive. It just have questionable design choice on the bathroom privacy sliders, and I wish that there was an umbrella inside since the previous luxury hotels I stayed at in Japan included them. That would be very much appreciated in the very hot summer.
Ritz-Carlton, Fukuoka- Breakfast
Breakfast is located on the Viridis restaurant on the lobby floor. Unfortunately, breakfast isn’t included for Marriott elites in most Ritz-Carlton brands (excluding Kyoto and Tokyo). I paid for breakfast for 6,500 yen per person on the final day to try it out.
Breakfast consists of buffet-style Western and Japanese offerings. But, you can also order items on an a la carte menu.
The Japanese options appealed to me personally, especially the pork katsu.
I chose the mentaiko (fish roe) omelet as the item from the a la carte menu. Mentaiko is very common ingredient in Fukuoka. Very good stuff.
The drinks are where it gets a bit weird. They’re all stored inside fridges that you can’t see through. So when you’re trying to decide what to drink, you’re effectively blocking those behind you. Not to mention that you’d need to pour your drinks on a nearby table and put the drink box inside the fridge after you’ve finished.
Some drinks are grab and go at least, like the coffee and milk. Maybe I’m being too critical, but the whole fridge setup feels cheap for a hotel that charges close to $1000 a night.
While the breakfast food tasted good, I didn’t think it was worth the price considering that there are tons of good food that cost way less outside.
Ritz-Carlton, Fukuoka- Pool & Fitness Center
The pool and gym are located in the top floor (24th). To use the pool and gym, you’d need to sign a form. By the reception desk, I saw these cute Ritz-Carlton lion plushies with Japanese fisherman and yukata fit. Maybe I should’ve bought these!
Unfortunately, you’d need to pay 3795 yen to use the pool (and jacuzzi) for 2 hours. Locker room will be provided alongside it, free of charge. I acknowledge that it’s not an uncommon scenario with Japanese hotels since the pool and spa sell memberships for non-guests to use.
Inside the locker rooms are the steam and sauna rooms.
The gym is ample with cardio and weight machines.
Ritz-Carlton, Fukuoka- Restaurants
The hotel has three other restaurants other than the Viridis. Starting from the lobby floor, there’s Diva where afternoon tea is served. It comes with outdoor seating on a big terrace overlooking the Hakata Bay.
Next is the fine dining restaurant Genjyu that serve kaiseki, sushi, and teppanyaki for lunch and dinner. A typical setup for a fine dining restaurant inside a luxury hotel in Japan.
On the 24th floor is a bar called Bay, although I couldn’t take a picture of it. The Club Lounge is also on the 24th floor. However, I chose not to eat at these places or purchase the Club Lounge as my first time in Fukuoka would’ve been spent better on their ramen places or the evening yatais that would give much better value for my money.
The Ritz-Carlton, Fukuoka’s hardware is very impressive as it’s the newest Ritz-Carlton in Japan. But, I found the service to be lackluster for a Ritz Carlton. I will leave that as the hotel being new and is experiencing growing pains at the moment, which hopefully will improve in the future when the staff are on their grooves.
However, some of the hotel’s design choices and policies were questionable such as the bathroom privacy sliders, fridge setup for drinks during breakfast, and the pool use charge. It doesn’t look good for a hotel that penny pinch their guests when staying here for a night almost cost $1000 a night in a market where it’s not as popular as Tokyo, Osaka, and Kyoto.
I’d honestly just go to a more budget-friendly hotel the next time I’m in Fukuoka as I don’t think the new Ritz-Carlton give good value in both money and points.