The Oriental Hotel is the grande dame of the Kobe hospitality scene, and it has had a long and complicated history. The first generation of the hotel was established by a Dutchman in 1870 at Lot 6 of the Foreign Settlement.
Ownership was subsequently transferred to Englishmen and the hotel was moved for first time in 1907 to Lot 6 of the Foreign Settlement. That incarnation – the third generation of the Kobe Hotel – became world famous for its service, hospitality, and in particular its Kobe Beef.
In modern times, the history of the hotel has been a lot more convoluted. The original hotel building was damaged beyond repair during the Kobe Air Raids in World War II and was demolished. The fourth generation of the hotel was erected in Lot 25 – 26 and became a modern structure with a lighthouse. The 1995 Kobe earthquake again damaged the hotel irretrievably and business afterwards so bad that the hotel actually shut for a period of time.
Finally, in 2010 – the fifth generation of the hotel (under a completely different management) re-opened its doors on the same lot: 25-26, and it is this hotel that I stayed at during my sojourn in Kobe. While it is a completely contemporary hotel with no traces of its past; it attempts to draw links with its illustrious past through many reproductions of period ephemera – postcards, maps and the like.
The hotel was easily my favourite in Japan, with its large rooms complete with stunning views of the Kobe hills and skyline; with its amazing restaurant that morphs into a different creature in the evenings when it serves delicious Kobe European cuisine. The old world atmosphere of the original Oriental Hotel in Kobe has been amply captured and I highly recommend a visit and a stay.