This once-drab Best Western hotel reopened in San Francisco with a thorough transfusion of Japanese hip. Plasma screens shimmer with anime and monster movies greet you on arrival. There is a vending machine selling T-shirts and cuddly things from the Asian-American pop culture brand Giant Robot. In an interesting hybrid, the Japantown hotel remains affiliated with Best Western but is managed by the Bay Area hotel company Joie de Vivre.
Located outside San Francisco’s tourist and business zones, Japantown is close to both, making it an intriguingly different base.
Loafing with big soft pillows on the comfortable bed is the perfect pose for considering the bright murals by the Japan-based artist Heisuke Kitazawa. In one room, a pair of weeping, white-clad schoolgirls, held in the blocky hands of pink hibiscus-festooned robots, reached out to one another in a swirl of yellow pigeons. The furniture of light knotty pine and primary colors in comfortable, clean lines complements the art, as does the carpet, patterned to resemble wide oak planks. The Gideon Bible is joined by a copy, in English and Japanese, of “The Teaching of Buddha.
Hotel Tomo’s most distinctive feature is a pair of well-equipped game rooms. They are dream romper rooms, strewn with couches, giant bean bags and vast bolsters, all arranged around a big projection screen. You haven’t played Wii until you’ve done it on an eight-foot-wide screen with room to thrash about.
Our goal was to have a hospitality product in San Francisco for the techies that was both vibrant and comfortable.