The Plaza Hotel in Kesennuma is one of the few lodging choices in Kesennuma, as many of the traditional inns were washed away in last year’s devastating tsunami. It is an older building, and though the lobby has recently seen some renovations, the hotel still feels dated. Please be aware that the term “non-smoking” doesn’t really exist outside of the major Japanese cities. The hallways of this hotel positively reek of smoke, and our “non-smoking” room was probably the “least smoky” room. The window did open a fair amount so it generally wasn’t a problem, but those who are very averse to smoke may want to reconsider. There are two kinds of rooms at this hotel – “Japanese” and “Western.” Our Western room (to which we were assigned, even though we had reserved a Japanese room) had two double beds and a very small bathroom. I did not see any of the Japanese rooms, but they reportedly have tatami floors, futon-style bedding, and larger bathrooms. There is wired internet access in the rooms, and you can get somewhat spotty wi-fi in the lobby. There is also a desktop computer in the lobby for guests’ use. The buffet breakfast is plentiful and offers many choices, including Japanese foods as well as “Western” fare such as yogurt, sausages, and eggs. Staff generally do not speak English – not an issue for my wife and I since we speak Japanese, but it would be helpful to brush up on some Japanese travel vocabulary before heading out to a remote place such as this – but they are certainly accommodating. Additionally, if you need transportation, they will be happy to call a nearby taxi stand for you and a cab will arrive promptly. The hotel has an onsen (Japanese bath) which provides a relaxing soak with a great view of the harbor – men’s and women’s baths are separate – and the hotel provides guests with robes and towels. The hotel is also located near a small market with shops and restaurants, the ferry terminal to Oshima Island, and a 24/7 convenience store. Under regular circumstances I might not recommend this hotel (mostly for the smokiness), but given that Kesennuma is just beginning to recover after an unimaginable tragedy, this hotel provides visitors with a centrally-located, relatively comfortable place from which to base their explorations.
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