Review: W Osaka | Prince of Travel
Following a refined stay at the Conrad Osaka, my next visit would be to a more lighthearted and colourful hotel, the W Osaka.
This hotel opened in March 2021 on bustling Midosuji Boulevard in the Shinsaibashi neighbourhood, becoming the first W location in Japan.
W Hotels are edgy, design-centric alternatives to conventional hotels, and its properties exude an equal mix of creativity and conviviality. As a fan of the brand myself, I was looking forward to scoping out one of the newest and most exciting additions to the W’s global portfolio.
W Osaka – Booking
At the time of my stay, it was more favourable to book with points than cash at the W Osaka.
I was able to book this stay for just 43,000 Marriott Bonvoy points, which is among the lowest redemption levels you’ll typically see here at the W Osaka.
More typically, you can expect to pay between 50,000–60,000 Bonvoy points per night. Cash rates fall within the range of ¥50,000–70,000 ($475–662 CAD), but can climb upwards of ¥90,000 ($855 CAD) at busier times.
Based on our current valuation of 0.9 cents per point, the W Osaka can indeed be a worthwhile opportunity for redeeming points or a Free Night Award, especially if cash rates are high.
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W Osaka – Location
The W is more central than the Conrad Osaka, where I had previously stayed before moving down to the W.
The hotel is nestled in the shopping district of Shinsaibashi, while famous Dotonbori’s vibrant nightlife scene is just a 15-minute walk from the hotel.
The closest metro stations are just a few minutes from the hotel on foot. Hommachi Station is seven minutes north, while Shinsaibashi Station is a five-minute walk to the south.
The hotel is also located close to several of Osaka’s famous landmarks and tourist attractions.
Take a quick walk south, and you’ll find yourself in Amerikamura, or “American Village”, a collection of backstreets and alleys full of homages to American and the heart of Osaka’s youth culture.
Just a few stops east on the Chuo Line from Hommachi Station is Osaka Castle, while the Tsutenkaku Tower is easily reachable via the Midosuji Line from Shinsaibashi Station.
For those flying domestically, Osaka Itami Airport is a 20-minute journey by car or 45 minutes by train from the hotel. Osaka Kansai International Airport is around a 45-minute journey by car, or just over an hour by train.
W Osaka – Check-in
There are two entrances to the hotel; however, the grand pedestrian entrance on the main pedestrian street of Midosuji Boulevard was temporarily closed.
Instead, we arrived at the vehicle entrance at the back, marked with illuminated neon lights under a wall of “W” letters.
The W Osaka’s black monolith façade emulates the starkness of Japan’s Edo period. However, as soon as you walk in, it’s the complete opposite, with spirited interiors designed by Amsterdam-based Studio Concrete.
These interiors draw a contrast between the minimalism of Japanese design and the maximalism of urban life, as exemplified by the lengthy tunnel lined with circular patterns that you first walk through upon entering.
The arrival lobby features a striking 3D geometric Asanoha design on the ceiling, recreating a popular Japanese traditional motif. The granite flooring and the ottomans scattered across the lobby employ the same concept.
From here, the elevator will take you up to The Living Room on the third floor, which is W’s signature take on a conventional hotel lobby.
The pod-like check-in counters are tucked away in a corner, surrounded by extravagant LED lighting.
Prior to our arrival, we had used a Suite Night Award to confirm an upgrade to the Marvelous Suite. We were feeling quite ecstatic that the hotel allowed us to secure an upgrade to its third-highest suite type using the Suite Night Award.
The associates informed us of our complimentary breakfast in the morning and approved our late check-out request. Moreover, we were informed that as suite guests, we would not be required to pay for pool access.
The hotel charges roughly ¥6,000 ($54 CAD) for pool access, which is somewhat absurd to me. The pool experience is typically one of the highlights of a W hotel, so the fact that it’s subject to an additional charge here at W Osaka definitely raised an eyebrow.
If you use a Suite Night Award or book a suite directly, the fee is waived. However, outside of using a Suite Night Award, pool access is still chargeable even if you receive a complimentary upgrade to a suite.
After a smooth check-in, we were handed our keys and headed up to the Marvelous Suite in Room 2410, via a moody set of dedicated elevators for the guest rooms.
W Osaka – Marvelous Suite
Stepping into the guest room hallway, you’ll encounter neon lights and quirky floor patterns that are typical of the W brand.
The guest room doors are done with walnut, while the other side of the wall consists of aluminum reflective ridges.
Depending on the floor, the room numbers are illuminated with neon lighting that emits a blue or pink glow.
Situated on the corner of the building, the Marvelous Suite is very spacious, with a classic W brand aesthetic. The suite features a separate living area and bedroom, with captivating 90-degree views of the energetic metropolis of Osaka.
Each room at the W Osaka has a different colour palette, according to its floor. The theme here at the Marvelous Suite was a vibrant blue that can be seen in the rugs and decorative details of the suite.
As you enter, the mini-bar and pantry are located directly to your right. The pantry is stocked with a variety of alcoholic beverages, snacks, coffee, and tea, and you can sit on two bar stools and take in the north-facing views.
Moving into the suite, the living area features a brown leather couch, ottoman, and coffee table parallel to the flat-screen TV that sits at the edge of the windows.
On the table in the living area, we were greeted with a welcome gift of some juices and sweets.
A small dining table with seating for three is to the right. A swivelling chair in the corner offers the best view in the house, with views facing both north and west across the floor-to-ceiling windows.
The bedroom is also spacious and quite cozy. At the foot of the king bed is a seating area with a soft blue rug, woven ottoman, and leather barrel chair.
The flat-screen TV sits within an oak wooden enclave, fronting the king bed. Next to the bedroom’s windows, there is a small seating area and a mirror.
The bathroom of the suite is semi-open, separated by a frosted sliding screen door. The space is beautiful, its walls and floors adorned with grey marble.
Behind the doors are a large circular-shaped bathtub and a double vanity with round LED mirrors. The shower and toilet are housed in their own respective chambers.
The suite also features a small secondary bathroom near the entrance.
Tucked away in the closet are pixorama art of Osaka’s famous sights and sounds. In my opinion, this was a creative and original surprise that certainly matched my expectations for the first W property in Japan.
W Osaka – Cozy Room
I also had the opportunity to take a tour of the hotel’s base-level Cozy Room. The layout is the same as the Wonderful Rooms one category higher, which are just situated on a higher floor.
At the far end of the room, a colourful mini-bar is tucked away next to a window with a sweeping view of Osaka.
As you move back into the room, a chaise longue is tucked against the wall next to the window.
The space then opens up to the bedroom area, which comes with a wicker chair and bedside tables with black and white hanging lamps.
Across from the bed, you’ll find a flat-screen TV tucked against a colourful wall. To the right of the TV, you’ll find a small storage area and some black bathrobes.
Lastly, the bathroom is nestled next to the bed, hidden by sliding doors. The snug space has a bathtub, shower, and a unique vanity island.
W Osaka – Breakfast
Breakfast is hosted in Oh.LaLa, which is the restaurant on the third floor of the hotel.
The space has a bright and airy atmosphere, with curved booths and sheer curtains falling from the ceiling. Here, blue accents, zigzag designs, and polka-dot embellishments reflect the distinctive W aesthetic.
Breakfast is served in the form of a set menu on weekdays and a buffet on weekends. For our stay on a Monday, we had a set menu.
There was a choice between American, Japanese, “detox”, and continental set breakfasts to pick from. I went for the Japanese breakfast, while Jessy opted for the Western.
Generally, I find the breakfast at Ws to be hit-or-miss depending on the property, but in this case, it hit the spot just right. The Japanese set plate gave me a balanced start to the day, all washed down with a strong black coffee.
The W Osaka’s breakfast wasn’t nearly as extravagant as some of the buffet spreads at other high-end hotels we visited on this trip, but it was still tasty and satisfying nonetheless.
Plus, the hotel had a breakfast attendant walking around wearing a pastry tray, which I thought was a nice playful touch.
The offerings included donuts, croissants, bread, buns, and some other creative and colourful treats, and we couldn’t help but try a few of the enticing donuts.
W Osaka – Dining
Oh.LaLa offers all-day French and international dining, in addition to breakfast in the morning. In fact, the restaurant is run under a partnership with Osaka’s Michelin-starred La Cime restaurant.
The W’s ground-floor Teppanyaki MYDO restaurant is only accessible via its own front entrance, which is separate from the hotel entrance. This venue serves teppanyaki for lunch and dinner.
Looking closely, you’ll notice that many of Teppanyaki MYDO’s walls are decked out in hand-drawn artwork by local artist Seitaro Kuroda, another reflection of Osaka’s youthful and gregarious spirit.
Also accessible via its own entrance on the ground floor was the MIXup coffee shop. The area has a chic colour scheme and seemed to be a pleasant place to unwind with a specialty beverage in hand.
Lastly, Ukiyo is the hotel’s hidden sushi restaurant, open for dinner only. The venue has just 10 seats, where professional chefs prepare Edomae sushi in front of you.
In another fun move on the hotel’s part, Ukiyo’s existence is advertised online, but not on the actual property.
You’ll have to be “in the know” to request it and make a reservation, and then you’ll be given a hidden key card that gives you access to the intimate dining space.
W Osaka – Bar
The Living Room’s central bar was a lively spot to hang out, and we enjoyed a few drinks here in the evening.
Along with the rest of the Living Room, the bar acts as a central spot for mixing and mingling at the hotel.
The space features colourful chairs and rectangular lamps that dangle from the ceiling at various heights, mirroring the vibrant lanterns of Dotonbori.
W Osaka – Other Facilities
The W brand’s signature Away Spa is found on the fourth floor, accessible via either the lobby or guest room elevators.
The fitness centre was highly impressive, with a cutting-edge layout and design. Floor-to-ceiling windows allowed plenty of light to flow into the space, which was accentuated by the fitness-inspired neon light strips adorning the walls.
There was also an impressive amount of equipment. In addition to the usual cardio machines and free weights, there were two high-tech Mirror workout machines, yoga equipment, and a punching bag.
WET is the hotel’s indoor plunge pool, set under vibrant neon lights and alongside spacious day beds.
The pool was a little more low-key than I might expect from a W property, though to be fair, being smack dab in the middle of one of the world’s busiest cities makes it hard to do anything too creative with the pool.
There is an open-air central courtyard on the Away Spa floor, accessible via a set of sliding doors, with plenty of seating dotted around under large canopy umbrellas.
Opposite this is the WET Bar area. During the summer, the entire space is an open concept, and I could see it being a really fun space to hang out.
But given that the bar was now closed for the season during our stay, I didn’t think the pool area as a whole would be worth paying the ¥6,000 premium if we weren’t staying in a suite.
The spa services are located close to the pool area, featuring massage rooms, a non-alcoholic bar with rejuvenating beverages, and a jacuzzi in the changing rooms.
Although I largely enjoyed my stay at the W Osaka, I must say it didn’t have quite the same wow-factor as other Ws I’ve stayed at in the past.
If you’re looking for a luxury hotel in Osaka, you’ll likely have better options to choose from for a “true” luxury experience compared to the W, which is often accused of prioritizing style over substance.
For example, I’m not a fan of the hotel’s decision to charge for pool access, which detracts from the appeal of what’s usually an attractive amenity at most W properties.
Having said that, guests typically pick the W for its dynamic and youthful atmosphere, and that definitely holds true here at the Osaka location.
Indeed, some observers might’ve been surprised that Japan’s first W hotel opened in Osaka rather than Tokyo. But after staying, I’d say it makes perfect sense for the brand, given the edgier and more playful culture that you’ll find here in Japan’s second city.
Add in the hotel’s central location and the ability to use a Suite Night Award for the striking Marvelous Suite, and the W Osaka just might be worth trying – if you fit the profile.