Haute Hybrid: Miyako Hotel and spaRelaken

Miyako hybrid
Ofuru tub and standard room credit: J Cohrssen

Los Angeles has plenty of boutique hotels and spas, but none quite as singular as the Miyako Hybrid. A branch of the popular Japanese chain hidden in Torrance among the US Headquarters of several Japanese corporations, it offers a truly International experience, with authentic Japanese touches that are nonetheless accessible to Western tastes.

I recently got a chance to enjoy a night there, and knew from the moment I passed through the bell-laden portal to the natural mahogany registration desk, and was greeted by name, that I was going to enjoy excellent service. I was not disappointed.

The Miyako Hybrid gets its name from the property’s emphasis on eco-friendly products and practices wherever possible—a lobby plaque boast of their LEED Silver Certification (the first for a hotel??). But that does not detract from a strong four-star level experience at virtually every turn.

My standard room, decorated in a clean, International style and natural palette, displayed a clever use of limited space and ergonomic details, everything just a little angled or subtlely curved to make the experience smoother. The bed was as pleasant as possible, with gooseneck reading lamps, on each side, an Ipod docking alarm clock, and facing an oversize 60” flatscreen TV atop a bureau hiding a blueray DVD player, mini fridge, coffee and tea maker and safe. Floor to ceiling windows opened to a small balcony.

The well-designed bathroom featured a Japanese-style heated washing toilet seat, and a large waterfall/hand wand shower with deep ofuru soaking tub connected—they provide you with a dousing bowl, and a step stool to get into the tub. There’s a sexy peekaboo window from the shower to the bedroom. Plentiful large towels, plush terry robes and slippers and Aveda products are included.

I was also able to peek at the larger suites as well, which offer a larger footprint, along with an instant hot water maker for tea and microwave.

spa Relaken LA
Gonban-Yoku credit: J Cohrssen

A stay here without visiting the spa, though, would be like eating cake without frosting. Perhaps the most popular part of the property, spaRelaken—also a Japanese chain—features the US’ first “Super Growth Energy” Ganban-Yoku, a type of sauna based on Kyushu-mined stone beds, that emit infrared rays and negative ions when heated. The effect is a cleansing sweat “bath” aiding detoxification, deodorization and increased metabolism.

spa Relaken LA
credit: J Cohrssen

After I experienced the Ganban-Yoku, and the large, deep Jacuzzi bath, I enjoyed an aromatherapy massage (above) using my choice of essential oils, which completed my sense of utter relaxation.

Gonpachi LA
credit J Cohrssen

At the restaurant, Gonpachi, I enjoyed a classic sushi dinner with some interesting touches (housemade soba, tofu sampling –above) as well as a pleasant Japanese and American buffet breakfast (miso soup, broiled fish, omlettes and waffles to order) in the morning.

Though there is no pool, Miyako Hybrid does have a small but serviceable exercise room open 24/7 with Wii consoles on the two 60” flatscreens. The gift shop offers a nice selection of wines (Opus One!), a wide variety of Godiva chocolate boxes, gift teas and other cute novelties. They also rent DVDs for viewing in-room

Other amenities include free WiFi throughout, Japanese daily newspapers at the front desk and a generous late check out of 2 p.m.

There is also a large branch of the Asian Mitsuwa marketplace next door, offering myriad casual eating experiences and some fun shopping—a definite must to include in your trip. Kids may also enjoy catching a close glimpse of the Goodyear blimp, which docks nearby.