Lennon Suite at Hard Day's Night
Path to view Mount Fuji
Imagining Lennon - Liverpool, England/Hakone National Park Japan
Two hotels, thousands of miles apart and with very different connections to John Lennon, aim to put the emphasis on luxury and authenticity rather than Theme Park gaudiness. The Hard Days Night Hotel, round the corner from the Cavern Club, is inspired by the Beatles. The Fujiya Hotel, dwarfed by nearby Mount Fuji, has a sepia treasure trove of the Lennon family's extended stay in the late 70s.
The Fujiya Hotel is a fading dowager nestled in the hills of the Hakone national park. A steep footpath, beginning in it's stately gardens, leads to a viewing point with glimpses of Mount Fuji. Every tap, bath and pool gushes with restorative hot spring water. For feasting, the Fujiya has a French restaurant, a Japanese restaurant, in the Emperors intricately carved former summer house, and a Piano Bar. The Lennon family holed up here for months whilst he was going through his househusband, "who me? I'm not a musician phase". The staff remain feverishly excited about John's visit and the coffee shop boasts his favourite apple pie.
Dress Code: Japanese Pyjamas in the bedroom. Smart in the restaurants and bar. Birthday Suit for the public baths.
Out of the hotel: The hills, leaves and rivers are the perfect stage for the Hakone Open Air Museum's sculptures. It also has indoor galleries dedicated to Henry Moore and Picasso.
The Hard Day's Night Hotel is footsteps away from the swanky Liverpool 1 complex and the Albert Docks. I even had a view of the business end of a Liver Bird from my window. My room was quite standard, apart from the mahoosive yellow submarine on the wall, but there is no way that the fab four would have slummed it in a double - it would have been the gleaming Lennon Suite, complete with white baby grand piano, or nothing. What makes this hotel special is the Michelin recommended Blakes Restaurant and the bars. My favourite was Hari's Bar, which gently smiles at George's Indian "revelations". The hotel's not overdone and quietly displays such treasures as the original score to Yesterday.
Dress Code: Scrub up, it's Liverpool. If this city was an animal, it would be a glamourpuss.
Out of the hotel: If you are too over-Beatled for the Cavern, go to the Tate and see Afro Modern. The museums setting in the docks brings an immediacy to the Black Atlantic theme.
- www.harddaysnighthotel.com I took the speedy, tilting Virgin Pendolino from Euston to Liverpool Lime Street. Visit www.nationalrail.co.uk for fares and times.
- www.fujiyahotel.jp/english The nearest station to the Fujiya is Miyanoshita which can be reached by a Bullet Train and a Toy Train (the "Romance Car") from Tokyo. http://english.jr-central.co.jp has more information on central Honshu train times.
- The Tate Liverpool is on the Albert Docks. www.tate.org.uk. The hotel can help with tickets to the Cavern Club or you could visit www.cavernclub.org
- The Hakone Open Air Museum is almost opposite Chokoku No Mori Station which is a short toy train ride from Miyanoshita. They have huge luggage lockers so you can continue your journey without going back to Miyanoshita. It opens at 09.00 and the last entry is 16.30.