Review: Gora Kadan, Hakone

The best things in life are free, they said.  Get out of the city and enjoy the fresh, country air, they said.  Well to them I say: you have never been to Gora Kadan.

Gora Kadan, Hakone, Japan
Room type: Jacuzzi Suite
Duration: 11th -> 12th September
Booked with: AMEX FHR

Gora Kadan. This way to a place where none of your dreams come true.

Introduction

To understand Gora Kadan, one must become Gora Kadan.  No, I’m kidding.  There is little that needs to be understood about this place, other than to know that this review will tell you everything you need to know.  Spoiler alert: it’s awful.

I hated Gora Kadan.  I hated the poor communication, where they would not come pick us up from the train station, even though we were only 5 minutes away.  I hated the room.  I hated the beds on the floor.  I hated the food.  I hated the odour that smelt like an old persons home.  I hated the military timing of eating.  I hated the spa.  I hated the price.  I hated the reminders that we had to be gone by 11am and most importantly I hated myself for booking it.

You’ll forgive me for the lack of photographs, for I was too busy carrying all our luggage to the hotel to be able to manage it.

Getting there

This is the best part of Gora Kadan.  When you arrive you will still remember what happiness is.  The sky will be bright blue, babies will be smiling and world peace will be within grasp.  What more could you ask for, after a 40 minute scenic train ride from Odawara?  Well unfortunately, unlike England, the train didn’t break down and we actually arrived.  That would have made the trip infinitely better.

Rooms

Every visit to a 5 star hotel begins with that moment of awe.  “How will they amaze me?”, you may ask.  You walk through the hotel and get introduced to your new home.  Gosh, isn’t it just great?  NO!  It’s not!  Have you not been reading so far?  Gora Kadan is where murderers should be sent as punishment.  This will become my legacy and will single handedly turn murder into a Minority Report era of paradise, all warm, cosy and murder free.

It was all going so well when we arrived.  As a strange experience, we were offered to view 2 rooms and we could choose which one we wanted.  It turned out to be a game of Russian roulette, but with a fully loaded chamber.  “Worst or worstest, sir?”.  “Why, I’ll take a sample of your finest worstest, thank you”, I imagine the conversation went.  Have you ever wondered where Gollum may feel comfortable sleeping?  Wonder no more.  So I ask you: how can I trust someone who doesn’t like beds, as if they cannot be honest with themselves how can they be honest with me?
  • The rooms smelt like a wet rag that survived the American civil war
  • The bath was decaying in front of my eyes.  You could feel parts of it coming off in your hands whilst you were in it.
  • The most comfortable place was sitting outside or curling up into the foetal position and pretending you don’t exist.
  • Next time I try an authentic experience that costs £850/n, I’ll remember to bring a sleeping blanket.  I looked up ‘authentic’ to see if it was a synonym for cheap, rubbish or a polite way of saying ripoff.  Apparently not.

At 6am I was woken up by an earthquake.  My partner, having grown up in an earthquake area, sprang into survival instinct and rushed for cover, I just lay there and knew that if the ceiling caved in then at least I wouldn’t have to spend anymore time in Gora Kadan.  This was the most relaxed I had been since arriving.

Living room
A bed. No, really.
A bath big enough to hold all your tears
Sit back, relax and think of all the mistakes you’ve made in your life. Like booking this hotel.

Amenities

The swimming pool and gym closed at 7pm.  Food must be served between 6 and 7pm.  Breakfast must be between 8 and 9am.  Was I in boot camp by mistake?  My GPS told me no, but my eyes said otherwise.

Other areas include:

  • Hot baths
  • Spa – we didn’t try, as they’d likely have crippled me for life.
  • Restaurant
  • Cafe
  • Salon
  • Outdoor seating areas

The amenities are one of the highlights of Gora Kadan, from the fact that if you’re enjoying them then you’re not in your room.  They also remind you of an outdoors, so you’re comforted by knowing escape is possible.

Swimming pool
Jacuzzi.
Going to a gym is already my worst nightmare, but add in this green and it’s in Gora Kadan? There is no therapist in the world who can help me.

Food

6, 6:30 or 7pm. Take your pick out of these fine selection of times.  Either one is available, just for you, to experience the fine dining of Gora Kadan, all included in the price.  A true delight, a real bargain, a thing of beauty.  None of these will be used to describe the food on offer.  No, instead we found ourselves eating only about 20% of what was available on their set menu.  No questions regarding allergies or food preferences at any stage, simply a menu presented and the food started arriving.

But what about breakfast, you may ask.  Well lucky days, as you can choose between 8, 8:30 and 9am.  They even let you choose which eggs you want with your set breakfast.  Gora Kadan is a palace of choice in a land of dictators.

Considered a WMD by 19 countries
Imagine this is Play-doh. Now imagine eating it. Congratulations, you’re imagining better food than the reality.

Drink

Like drinking a dehydrated cat’s urine

Service

I feel I’m a fair man, so will give credit where credits due.  Gora Kadan is awful, yet they excel at it.

  • Their website states: “The Hotel guests can use it both before check in and  after check-out.”, yet we were told several times by different staff that we had to be gone by 11am.
  • After 11am I was trying to organise going back to Tokyo and it felt that at every available opportunity we were reminded to kindly take our business elsewhere.
  • Everyone is allocated a butler as part of their stay, but for some reason they didn’t feel the need to come say goodbye to us
  • I assumed from the fact that no car would come and pick us up from the train station that it truly was a 30 second walk, but it in fact took just over 5 minutes to get there.  Wars and have been fought and won in slightly more time.  Strangely they did have a car take us back to the train station when we left – probably cos they were desperate for us to leave.

Worth knowing

  • You must say Three Hail Marys every 15 minutes whilst staying here.
  • We were due to visit Ginyu Hakone after leaving Gora Kadan, but our experience was so bad that I couldn’t bring myself to do it.  Would you volunteer to be experimented on?  So whilst awake and contemplating peaceful thoughts, like hoping I would be attacked by some wolves, I called AMEX to call Ginyu Hakone.  This being too late in the day to do so, I gleefully accepted the cancelation fee and headed back to Tokyo, where they believe in things like fresh water, privacy and beds.

The Good

  • We were only there 18 hours.

The Bad

  • We were there 18 hours.

The Luxurious

  • They’re very keen on you leaving as early as possible.  For this I thank them.

Conclusion

I wish I was never born.

8 Comments

  1. Thanks for the warning. Pool looks like the one we used at school – eek!

  2. Bob Slefty

    It sounds very much as though you are entirely inexperienced with ryokan and simply had no idea what to expect and could only compare the experience to staying in a western style hotel. This is both a shame and unfair to readers who might expect a more educated assessment.
    As amusing as your review is to read, it is hollow because you so clearly have no idea about Japan. All this review tells me is that you were completely out of your depth and that your expectations were not met only because they were unreasonable and based on a distinct lack of knowledge.
    I’m sorry, but this review smacks of nothing so much as the Englishman abroad unhappy that he’s unable to get his fish and chips.

  3. Mr Slefty sir, I salute you.

    You are indeed bang on the money.

    Japan is a wonderful country. The writer is simply an ignoramus. As reserved and polite as the Japanese are, I can now truly understand why they asked this man to leave as soon as possible!

  4. You missed one hell of a great Ryokan in Ginyu.

  5. I agree with the previous comments. This review was unhelpful and made the writer sound like a complete idiot and imbecile.

  6. Tom…you are totally hilarious! We just left this establishment this morning. We had the exact same room as you and your review could not be more spot on. Forget the lack of furniture. I get that part. The smaller room was described by my son as smelling like the Humane Society for Anirmals. I wish I could post a picture of the huge spider that had cocooned itself ready to give birth in our room and all the black mold throughout the collapsing bathroom. And, not to mention the butler who kept letting herself in the room. Yikes! I could not have written a better review than you. I do not know where these other people were staying and for those of you who have not even visited and are commenting…you are totally off base. Way too funny Tom!

  7. Utterly clueless

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