A Cyclist Concept Hotel in Onomichi
Located at the start of the Shimanami Kaido, a spectacular 60-kilometer bike route that island hops across the Seto Inland Sea, Onomichi U2 is the perfect home base for cyclists -- and anyone who loves bread.
When we entered U2 to check in for our stay, I was immediately lured from the reception desk by the intoxicating scent of just-pulled-from-the-oven bread wafting over from Butti Bakery, one of the complex's three in-house eateries. Anyone who has spent time in Japan knows that this country holds some of the world's best boulangeries and patisseries, and Butti Bakery was no exception. I followed my nose to a basket of matcha-infused rolls whose chewy insides were studded with chunks of sweet white chocolate, a perfect complement to the bitter flavor of green tea.
I'd certainly need to be doing quite a bit of cycling here.
We arrived sans wheels (the last bike I owned was a mint green beach cruiser used for beer runs in San Diego), but it didn't require much effort to get ourselves equipped with rentals. In addition to mouthwatering baked goods, U2 also houses a GIANT shop with a wide selection of rental options, from cross bikes to carbon or aluminum road bikes. Those who prefer to travel with their own set of wheels will find thoughtful storage solutions. Each room at U2's Hotel Cycle is equipped with a bike rack, so you can literally roll out of bed. On your way out the door, it's even possible to pick up breakfast or lunch without getting off your bike -- U2's Yard Cafe sells sandwiches, coffee and gelato from a "cycle-through" counter.
Even if you're not that into cycling (who, me?), there's a lot to love about Onomichi U2. Design geeks will appreciate the modern minimalist qualities that bring a sense of calmness to the former industrial warehouse. Foodies will revel in the bountiful breakfasts at the Restaurant, where perfectly cooked omelets -- the kind that require zero fillings -- are served alongside homemade sausage, fresh greens and warm bread topped with heaping spoonfuls of fig jam. Shoppers will delight in a treasure trove of carefully crafted local goods at the Shima Shop, a lifestyle store offering everything from U2-branded cycling backpacks to artisan soaps scented with citrus native to the Inland Sea.
There's something for everyone at Onomichi U2, but I won't judge you if you just go for the bread.
5-11, Nishi-Gosho-cho, Onomichi, Hiroshima, 〒722-0037
T: +81 848-21-0550
Book online here.
Getting there: From Tokyo Station, take the Nozomi Shinkansen to Fukuyama Station (214 minutes), and then switch to the JR Sanyo line to reach Onomichi Station (20 minutes). The hotel is a 5-minute walk from Onomichi Station. Note that the JR Pass is not valid on Nozomi trains.
If you're traveling from elsewhere in Japan, use HyperDia to map the best route.
Cost: Rates start at 18,200 JPY (160 USD) per room for a Standard Twin.