This historic hotel, with a staff eager to please, is reason enough to spend the night in Nara. Spreading like a palace atop a hill on the south edge of Nara Park, it was built in 1909 as a Western-style hotel to accommodate foreigners pouring into the country, but it has many Japanese features in the Momoyama Period style of architecture. Accommodations in the old part of the hotel feature wide corridors, high ceilings, antique light fixtures, bamboo blinds, fireplaces (no longer in use), and comfortable old-fashioned decor, while a 1984 addition offers larger, modern rooms and verandas overlooking woods or the old town (note: only the newer wing has an elevator). It’s also worth dropping by just for a meal, either in the graceful Tea Lounge with a view of a pond and serving sandwiches for lunch, or in the elegant Mikasa French restaurant with its soaring ceiling and original fixtures.