Provence Hotel (Review)
Mediterranean Auberge in Shima
Provence Hotel is 3-stars accommodation located in Shima City, in the south of the Ise peninsula, Mie prefecture. The facility stands out from the usual Japanese business hotels thanks to its quality restaurant and its roof top for stargazing.
Located next to the exit of Shima-Shimmei station, Provence is of an easy access for travelers using the local Kintetsu train 🚅. A parking space is also available for guests renting a car 🚙 to drive through the Ise-Shima peninsula for a few days. The place is indeed only a few kilometers from:
- The wonderful Ago Bay in the south; and,
- The exhilarating Matoya Bay in the north-east, with the popular Parque España-Shima Spain Village themed park.
Business hotel level services
Provence is a small, 24 rooms hotels, standing on the side of a narrow road and next to the rail tracks. The urban setting and the rumbling of trains taking the level crossing certainly put the facility in the business hotel 🏨 category. The classical layout of a room confirms this classification, with:
- 2 Western-style beds;
- A lounge area with a sofa, coffee table and TV set;
- A desk and a digital tablet to order the hotel’s services; and,
- The usual all-plastic bathroom 🛁 / toilet 🚽.
The decoration is simple, without specific highlight, and the place is clean. There is however no available power socket next to the bed, which could have been convenient to charge a smartphone 📱 or any other connected object. One of the bedside lamps must be unplugged or the device let on the desk where a socket is available. Additionally, the 25 m² superficies is wide enough for 2 persons and their luggage. Each room is numbered and named from a flower in Japanese.
Provence hotel also has onsen ♨️ hot springs divided into spaces for men and women. Each bath area provides open-air and indoor tubs. Another indoor bath for 2 persons can be privatized for a couple for example. A spa service, called Soin Nature in French, offers relaxing massages, upon reservation and provided an additional fee.
Gourmet fusion cuisine
What makes the place interesting lies at its ground floor, with a more up to date and pleasant decoration, and well-thought displays presenting the Ise-Shima area and its touristic assets. The very caring staff lead the customers to the restaurant where dinner is cooked by chef Yohei Naka, who is native to the area.
Chef Naka’s cooking is based on traditional and local ingredients, such as lobster, abalone, and regional wagyu beef, but is also original. The menu includes for example a delicious Japanese meal with a Mediterranean touch, such as some delicious Italian ham sliced upon request. The name of the hotel "Onsen Auberge Provence" does indeed derives from this originality. European visitors will enjoy tastes reminiscing childhood memories that perfectly pair with the delicacy of Kashikojima local gastronomy, in the south of the peninsula.
The next day, the hotel’s breakfast is of the same quality as the dinner. It is served in a varied and hearty buffet, that caters equally to sweet-tooth and savory dish amateurs. We recommend trying the Aosa seaweed butter, to spread on the good home-made brioche bread.
Beautiful stargazing night
Every night, the hotel stages a must-attend nightly event on its open-air rooftop Starry Sky Terrace featuring Shinji Nishio, an astronomy passionate, who brings his telescopes and guides amateurs of stargazing.
Depending on the weather conditions and the direction, the most famous constellations can be clearly seen. The luckiest may even spot the ISS (International Space Station) as it passes by above the area. This moment of astronomical observation is very enjoyable but only in Japanese. Taking astronomical pictures of the night sky as a souvenir is also possible.
Provence is suitable for travelers who organize one-day trips and use their accommodation only as a base to eat and stay every night. Residents in Japan can enjoy here a delicious cuisine, both local and international.