Hilton has been in hot water in Japan, where it has had a presence for 60 years (read more here), after it released a YouTube video bashing Ryokan, a Japanese-style accommodation, which it later withdrew after an uproar.
The video compares ryokan rules, such as bathing and breakfast times, with a horrified-looking Japanese couple to a stay at a “corporate-style” Conrad hotel.
You can access Hilton here.
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Frightened at a Ryokan?
Bath time is between 5 AM and 11 PM. We will bring dinner to your room at 6 PM. Please finish eating by 9 PM. Breakfast is between 7 AM and 10 AM. The last order is at 9:30 AM. It gets really busy around 8 AM. Checkout is at 10 AM.”
But happiness at Conrad?
My dear guests, if you prefer to relax longer, we can change your dinner reservation to a later time,
Some comments left on X about this Hilton’s Video:
Totally tone-deaf. You don’t go to the Hilton to get a ryokan experience and you don’t go to Ryokan to get a hotel experience
— ジェン Jenn 珍 🌻@体操大会トレーニング中🌻 (@mahjongjen) November 14, 2023
Ryokan having set times for food is because unlike the Hilton it’s not reheated slop sitting in a buffet!
— Rocho (@Msamalam) November 14, 2023
I’ve never had anything but an excellent and flexible experience at ryokans. One sent out a van to find me when I was wondering around the nearby town because a downpour started. Still blown away.
— Dr Wes Robertson (@ScriptingJapan) November 14, 2023
I prefer traditional ryokan over any western style hotel for vacation if the price tag is at Conrad level.
For 100,000+ per person, luxury ryokan are the best places to rest. Almost everything is private and can be tailored to your needs.
— Jason Reid (@JasonReid_) November 14, 2023
Hilton is wrong here, and they shouldn’t have produced a video like this that not only highlights what Conrad Hotels can provide but also attempts to downplay the main features of Ryokans.
It is in bad taste in Japan, where ads bashing a competitor don’t exist, and it questions what Hilton has learned, if any, over its 60 years of operating in the country.
Although I have spent months in Japan, I have never visited or stayed at a Ryokan because I don’t believe they are the right fit for me. I prefer hotels with facilities such as fitness centers and club lounges (I use the latter mainly for typing away on my laptop).
If I could ever be completely unplugged, I would have no issue staying at a ryokan. I could have a genuinely local Japanese experience without any Western twists.