The perfect spot

The perfect spot
PHOTO: St Regis Osaka

Birmingham, Melbourne, Montreal, Los Angeles and Penang would all know how Osaka feels - playing second fiddle to a larger city.

But as the adage goes, size doesn't matter and the latter packs enough punch in terms of sights, shopping and culinary choices to give Tokyo a run for its money.

Equally bustling but less chaotic and more laid-back than the Japanese capital - a title which Osaka also once had the honour of holding back when it was known as Naniwa - it continues to be a major economic hub for the country and is a fantastic stopover for those on the way to neighbouring Kyoto.

Like Singaporeans, the friendly locals are proud of their food culture and will often tell Osaka visitors to "kuidore" - their slang for "eat till you drop".

Any time is a good time to indulge in the wide array of street snacks - whether it's freshly-made, piping hot takoyaki (octopus balls) from stalls at the touristy Dotonbori or crispy D-I-Y okonomiyaki (Japanese pancake) at Tenjinbashisuji Shotengai, which incidentally is Japan's longest shopping street.

The best place to stay while soaking in the sights and sounds of Osaka would be the luxurious St Regis. The hotel brand prides itself on always being located at the most coveted address in every city and it more than delivers on that count by being situated in the heart of the historic Midosuji Avenue.

The leafy four-kilometre long stretch connects Umeda and Nama, two major entertainment centres in Osaka so you're unlikely to find yourself with nothing to do during your stay. The best part - you probably don't even need to leave the hotel to keep yourself occupied.

Foodies have two world-class specialty restaurants at their doorstep. La Veduta serves Northern Italian grill; and Rue d'Or features French bistro cuisine with a contemporary twist.

The latter, located next to the hotel's grand ground floor entrance, has terrace seating that is perfect for watching salarymen and stylish shoppers go about their business.

The former is next to the bar which, like every St Regis Bar around the world, serves its own version of the classic Bloody Mary cocktail. Called the Shogun Mary, it combines yuzu, soy sauce and wasabi with vodka to give the drink a zesty Japanese twist.

Drink it inside to soak up the venue's relaxed ambience or take it outside to the zen Japanese rock garden where every evening, a champagne bottle is saber-ed at sunset to mark the end of the day.

The Iridium Spa is where guests might want to head to after a day of meetings or shopping; it's a great pit-stop for a spot of pampering before you retreat to one of the 160 luxurious and spacious guestrooms and suites, which are finished with traditional and modern Japanese touches.

Back there, you don't even need to lift a finger, save for pressing the butler-call button on the phone. A signature of the St Regis brand, the service is available 24/7 and even via e-mail. No task is too big or small and the first thing they will offer upon check-in is to unpack your luggage. (A packing service is also available before check-out.)

Opened in 2010, the St Regis Osaka is the city's first luxury hotel in 13 years. Like its prestigious yet historic address, the property is a symbol of Osaka's continuing prosperity while keeping an uncompromising eye on tradition.

The St. Regis Osaka
3-6-12 Honmachi, Chuo-ku Osaka,
Osaka, 541-0053 Japan

The writer was a guest of the St Regis Osaka

This article was first published on August 22, 2015.
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