Hotel Limani doesn’t merely stand beside the Setouchi Sea—it embraces it. From the panoramic lobby on through the restaurant, lounge, exercise room, spa, and outdoor pool with its swim-up bar, one is never without an arresting view of the sea. In fact, when you book your stay, there’s no need to ask for an ocean view—for every one of Hotel Limani’s sumptuous guest rooms faces the ocean.
Though located in Ushimado, part of the Japanese mainland in Okayama Prefecture, Hotel Limani stands as an island unto to itself, complete with a stunning Grecian colonnade, and a view celebrated as one of the “100 best sunset spots in all of Japan.” My partner and I were eager to see if the sunset at Limani lived up to the hype, but having arrived a little before noon, we knew we’d have to wait to find out.
At the counter, a Greek staff member welcomed us in English and, after a brief check-in, showed us our room, tastefully appointed in Limani’s signature blue and white—reminiscent at once of Santorini island. Our room featured couches, a seaside balcony with chairs, and a spacious shower and bath decorated in a lovely Grecian tile. After spending most of my nights in Japan on a futon rolled out on the floor (the traditional Japanese sleeping arrangement), the western style beds felt like a true luxury.
“Of course, Japanese food and ryokans (traditional Japanese Inns) are wonderful,” explains Shoko Yamaguchi, staff member, fitness specialist, and spokesperson for Hotel Limani, “but after a while, foreign visitors to Japan can start to long for something a little closer to home. At Hotel Limani, our guests can fully relax in the comfort of Greek food, European amenities, and a genuine international atmosphere.”
As it turns out, Ushimado’s international history stretches back as far as the Edo period, when it served as a gateway for Korean envoys. Today, Limani expands upon that tradition with staff members from 14 separate countries,and the linguistic capacity to receive guests from all over the world.
Even the word “Limani” itself comes from Greek, meaning “bay” or “port,” though Hotel Limani’s connection with Greece goes much deeper than the name.
Settled on the edge of the Ushimado-cho, a branch of the Setouchi Inland Sea known colloquially as “the Agean Sea of Japan,” the farmlands surrounding Hotel Limani produce some of the best olives, mushrooms, and lemons in the nation.
Quite naturally John Yanni Diacos, the award-winning Greek chef in charge of Limani’s restaurant, The Terrace, sources much of his ingredients from Limani’s own gardens.
As we sat down for lunch—the first of many memorable meals we would relish during our stay—we felt an almost visceral sense of comfort as plate after plate of beautifully arranged, authentic Greek food graced our table in succession. Consistent with their standing as a hotel and spa, the delicious and healthful cuisine added tremendously to the rejuvenating feelings characteristic of our entire stay at Hotel Limani.
“Our menu changes in harmony with the seasons, so everything at the Terrace is always as fresh as possible,” says Miss Yamaguchi. “And because our gardens, the sea, and the Ushimado farmlands are all right here, most of our ingredients are picked, caught, or harvested each morning. It doesn’t get healthier than that.”
In the interlude between lunch and dinner, we decided to while away some time in the gym studio, where Miss Yamaguchi guided us through a relaxing set of stretches and exercises. Afterward, my partner went in for a facial of organic essential oils and a dip in the seasonal, ladies-only lemon bath, while I relaxed beside the fireplace in Limani’s sophisticated lounge.
Before we knew it, the sea lit up with the warm glow of evening, and together we stood outside in Limani’s poolside courtyard, with a sense of deep relaxation rarely afforded to travelers. As the general manager of the hotel informed us, the average stay at Hotel Limani is one week, and at the end of our first day there, it was easy to see why.
As we watched the sunset at last over the shimmering waves of Ushimado, we lost all sense of time and place. Were we travelers along the beautiful Setouchi Sea? Or Mediterranean island hoppers watching the sun sink into the Aegean?
Either way—there in that moment, we felt perfectly at home. Photographs & Text by Peter Michel Chordas