Feeling a bit, “Meh… “ now that the fall weather’s blown in? Maybe it’s back to school or back to work or just back to not drinking before midday — we get it, moving on from the summer is tough. If only we could all make like Cher and turn back time for a few more weeks of fun.
Thankfully, there’s an easier (and totally Cher-approved, we think) way to keep the sunshine in our lives — by traveling to a place where it’s basically always summer: Okinawa. And, in more good news, we’ve also found a place to stay right in the capital that epitomizes everything that we love about it. The Estinate Hotel is killing it with the whole, “Summer’s not over ‘til we say it is” vibe. Come on, let the summer times roll.
1. Go on spur-of-the-moment adventures
Summer is all about spontaneous adventure and Estinate Hotel has been designed around exactly that concept. Instead of doing tons of advanced planning and sticking to a rigid itinerary, the hotel actively encourages guests to discover their travel plans through chats with staff, fellow travelers and locals.
The stylish and open downstairs lounge — functioning as a reception, café, restaurant, bar and live event space — buzzes with families, couples, groups of friends and solo travelers swapping stories and recommendations.
Rather than a mere place to stay, it’s our hope that this hotel can become a place where travelers can meet people, share stories and discover what’s “next” for themselves.
Plus, some of the friendliest staff you’ll probably ever encounter (even for Okinawa) will sort you out with cool places to visit, local event information, as well as lessons on the unique history and culture that makes the island so different from mainland Japan.
Just FYI: for us, we ended up driving around on a tuk tuk with staff and estintater Ono-san, stopping by her recommended spots while one of our crew chased us on a bike (as you do…).
2. Stuff yourself with ridiculously Instagrammable food
The Estinate Hotel café/restaurant — open to locals, too — boasts a menu that’s the stuff of all our summer #foodporn fantasies. Head downstairs from your room on a sunny morning for their excellent breakfast, where you can watch the chef preparing beauties like these:
You can opt to include breakfast in your booking for ¥1,080, or pay as you eat. Drinks are free!
Lunch and dinner is more Insta-spiration, featuring Western-style dishes like perfectly seared steak and a colorful ragout spaghetti, as well as fusion fare in the form of Okinawan vegetable fritto and tuna fish and chips.
The atmospheric outdoor terrace is available for an impromptu barbecue night and the chef will prepare everything so you can show off your grilling skills.
Basically, you get to barbecue in a beautiful backyard with artfully-prepared cuts of meat and veg — the perfect setup for your most popular ‘Gram of the summer. #forkyeah
3. Have a drink when you arrive (go on, you’re on holiday)
While it’s not actually part of the check-in process (that would be messy), Estinate Hotel is keen to give guests a taste of the local culture — and what’s more local than the historic Okinawan brew of awamori. Guests at the hotel can experience a free awamori tasting everyday from check-in time at 5 p.m., sampling three different kinds sourced from Naha and the surrounding islands.
Staff behind the bar will fill you in on the story of awamori and its iconic status, as well as teaching you how and when to drink it. And there’s nothing that quite says: “I’m on summer holidays” like drinking during the daytime.
Estinate Hotel also organizes other events on the regular to help guests get to know each other and, you know, make it so that you actually don’t even need to leave the hotel to have fun. Live music events, cultural performances, coffee tastings, parties and pizza nights make for great summer meetings and memories.
4. Sleep in
Make use of the boutique bedrooms knowing that you won’t have to get up in the morning to an alarm or the thought of piling into a sticky commuter train; lay under the crisp cotton sheets as long as you want — this is summer after all. The hotel offers four different room types: a deluxe room, superior room, standard double room and a standard single.
The interior design and furnishings of the hotel have all been produced locally to the tune of funky tropical vibes; Japanese luxury cosmetics brand Provincia provide the amenities, available to buy in the hotel’s mini-merch shop on the first floor along with cute original goods like tote bags and mugs.
5. Be in Okinawa, duh
Another selling point of Estinate Hotel? Its location. Previous guests rate the easy access from the airport (it’s just a 10-minute taxi ride), the Yui monorail (it’s a 5-minute walk from Mie-Bashi station) and the Tomari Wharf Terminal (also a 5-minute’ walk). The city’s most famous street, Kokusai Dori, a short stroll away, is where you’ll find the Makishi Public Market known as the “kitchen of Naha” and another 1.6 kilometers of shopping, dining, eating, drinking and entertainment. There are plenty of shops, bars and restaurants in the immediate vicinity too.
Best of all, you’re in Naha, the economic and cultural center of this incredible place called Okinawa, just a two-hour flight from Tokyo. We’re just going to leave these pictures here in case you needed more convincing.
September to December is the ideal time to go to Okinawa: the weather’s still good (save for a typhoon or two) and most of the tourists have gone back home. Summer’s calling — what are you waiting for?