Savour sakura season from the heart of Japanese hotels
Accommodation options across Japan that offer more than one way to enjoy cherry blossom season
With springtime upon us, cities in Japan are awash in a sea of pink.
The allure of the country's cherry blossom season has spread worldwide and thousands now flock there to partake in hanami, the long-standing tradition of gathering with loved ones to enjoy the delicate pink buds over good food and drinks.
While most would head to parks, gardens and cherry blossom festivals to gush over the beautiful blooms, the rising trend of "air hanami" is becoming more widespread among flower seekers.
The concept typically involves enjoying pictures, videos and even artificial sakura blooms while staying indoors.
Instead of jostling through crowds, people are increasingly admiring the pink blooms from indoors - the comfort of their home or hotel room, a restaurant or even a spa.
Hotels are contributing to this growing trend too by providing their guests with an extra-special stay sweetened with Instagrammable sakura-themed afternoon tea sets, spas and room decor.
From onsen resorts to luxury abodes, US-based hotel booking website Hotels.com susses out the best places to stay in Japan to get the most out of sakura season.
Andaz Tokyo Toranomon Hills, Tokyo (from $705 a room a night)
Fancy a hanami picnic in the skies? This season, the hotel will transform its rooftop bar into a resplendent sakura garden.
Back by popular demand, guests can tuck into a decadent afternoon tea spread featuring mixed Kyoto vegetables, a sakura-marinated seafood medley, housemade sakura relish, as well as a selection of sakura-themed desserts such as Mont Blanc cakes, cheese tarts and macarons, all while sitting under pink blooms.
The set is available from March 29 to 31, April 5 to 7 and 12 to 14.
Hotel Hankyu International, Osaka (from $384 a room a night)
Taste the sweetness of the sakura flower via picture-perfect sakura parfaits at the Parterre Tea Lounge. Located on the second level of the hotel, the restaurant also sits across the Ceres Bar, which serves up an elegant sakura cocktail.
Made with a base of white wine and sweet sakura liquor, it is uber Instagrammable so get your smartphone ready.
Shangri-La Hotel, Tokyo (from $851 a room a night)
Relax and unwind at the Chi Spa, which features a seasonal Authentic Tokyo Experience Spring Treatment (available from now to May 31). Begin with a nourishing bath scrub using sakura essential oils, followed by a paraffin wrap, sauna and massage to relax your mind, body and soul.
Hotel Kaminoyu Onsen, Kai (from $99 a room a night)
Kick your hanami experience up a notch here, where you can luxuriate in public or private open-air baths while soaking in the tranquil beauty of the cherry blossoms.
Packed with over 100 cherry blossom trees, the hotel's garden makes for a splendid sight during springtime.
Families, friends and couples alike can hanami together as the hotel offers spacious bath options for all. Tip: For couples, take a bath in the evening when it is especially romantic.
Park Hotel Tokyo, Tokyo (from $293 a room a night)
For those who have always wanted to sleep under a cherry blossom tree, look no further.
The hotel's cherry blossom room, designed by Japanese artist Hiroko Otake, aims to evoke the transient beauty of the sakura flower.
Featuring painted petals shaped like butterflies and a lone cherry tree that forms the design centrepiece, it is a magical reinterpretation of the sakura and you might not want to leave once you step in.
Kobe Minato Onsen Ren, Kobe (from $487 a room a night)
Soak in the splendour of spring by taking a dip among pretty pink blooms in the hotel's sakura-themed outdoor heated pool (available for a limited time only), providing the perfect backdrop for the 'gram and a great spot to mingle over drinks.
Sowaka, Kyoto (from $713 a room a night)
For the night owls, how about viewing cherry blossoms in a new light? Guests staying at this luxury ryokan can treat themselves to gorgeous views of illuminated cherry blossoms at Kodaiji Temple in the evening, and they are given exclusive access to the temple grounds at night.