What’s the point of luxury travel if the luxuries aren’t ‘wellness’? Who wants to wrap a good getaway feeling worse coming home then they did at the start?
That said, there is a time and place for a raw vegan yoga retreat. When we get away, we do like to live it up. And what we’re looking for is a ‘clean’ luxury experience. Even if we’re only traveling a few miles down the PCH.
Clean luxury travel (more on that here) means drinks at the pool that are made fresh and a flexitarian menu that offers plenty of plants alongside everything else that people on vacation want to eat. It means there are pancakes and green juice on the room service menu (and we may just order both).
The best luxury properties in the world all seem to grasp this new modern reality — after all, resort spas and yoga studios are some of the most impressive in the world and are deeply rooted in health and wellness. It’s usually the restaurant and room service menus that are the last to fall in line, slowly learning to meet the modern luxury travelers new taste for cleaner eating.
Earlier this fall, we had the pleasure of staying the weekend at Nobu Ryokan, one of LA’s most exclusive and buzzed about new properties that nails the mix between wellness and luxury. There is nothing overtly health-oriented about the place, which opened on Carbon Beach in 2017, it’s just that the oceanside property’s Japanese roots and Malibu locale make it nearly impossible to avoid.
What drew us to the Ryokan in the first place, besides it’s proximity to one of the world’s most celebrated sushi restaurants of all time, was the inn’s stunning design. Crafted by the same architectural and interior design teams behind Nobu Malibu, the Ryokan’s sleek modern shape is dressed head to toe in teak and ipe wood and surrounded by a Californian translation of a Japanese garden. There’s a special elegance about the long lines and warm glow of all that teak just feet from the waves. The clean, elegant lines at Nobu are carried right through at the Ryokan and staying overnight inside that kind of meticulously executed design is pure magic. (It’s also pure indulgence, rates at the Ryokan start at two thousand at night.)
In Japan, ryokan’s are traditional inns somewhere between what we might consider in the U.S. to be a bed and breakfast and a boutique hotel — think tatami mats, futons, gardens and communal bathing. Ask your coolest friend whose been to the Japanese countryside, chances are they’ve stayed in one.
In Malibu, the ryokan concept is taken to it’s most luxurious heights, but without any L.A. flash. The rooms are havens of quiet covered floor to ceiling in beautiful wood, straw and linen details and filled with carefully curated Japanese books, art and ceramics.
The constant crash of ocean waves is inseparable from the experience of staying at the Ryokan. The mix of Japanese design thinking with one of California’s world-class beach environments is truly one-of-a-kind. While most rooms and suites face the ocean with private decks, there is also a stunning communal deck, a soon to open private pool and adjacent fitness studio all waiting to be put to use — if you can bear to leave your room. Nobu itself is just next door and — get this — can be delivered as room service. The Ryokan is the only property in the world with that epic culinary benefit.
During our stay, we drooled over all the streamlined details, custom kimono robes, the 800-thread count bed linens by Anichini and well-chosen ceramics (including my favorite, Copenhagen-based Arjoh Studio, whose pieces can be seen in many of our shoots). But the pièce de résistance in each room is the teak wood bathtub designed to overflow into the wooden floor. Yes, the bathtubs alone – if paired with tea and the private ocean view – are worth the stay. Each bathroom is stocked with all the charming wooden accoutrements to partake in a Japanse-style bathing ritual, but also with well-made detoxifying bath salts by The Detox Market.
Whether you’re a fan of great design and are looking to immerse yourself in an all-out experience or are just crazy for all things Nobu and want to turn a special dinner into a spectacular weekend, the Ryokan lives up to it’s world-class reputation. Order the traditional Japanese breakfast in a bento box with some of the city’s best miso soup and a few hints of Nobu classics, then enjoy their exclusive experiential Malibu Fit Concierge that includes hikes in the Malibu hills, in-room massages, private yoga or beach workouts and even reiki and sound bath sessions.
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