Marufukuro Hotel: Historic Original Nintendo Headquarter Turned Kyoto Luxury Boutique Hotel

Tucked away in a quiet neighborhood along the Kamo River in Kyoto lies a unique boutique hotel with a fascinating history. The Marufukuro hotel is housed in the former headquarters of Nintendo, where the gaming giant first started out making traditional Japanese playing cards called hanafuda in 1889.

Stepping into the Marufukuro feels like traveling back in time. The exterior retains the original 1933 façade, including old plaques engraved with “Playing Cards” in gold letters.

Inside, guests are greeted with art deco tiling, lighting fixtures and sleek marble counters that exude 1930s glamor.

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But beyond the retro aesthetic, what makes Marufukuro truly special is how it brings Nintendo’s heritage to life. The hotel houses a library filled with books, hanafuda card displays and Nintendo memorabilia. One guest describes it as “a Nintendo museum disguised as a hotel.” Even the window grilles feature patterns from old playing cards!

Renovated by famed architect Tadao Ando, Marufukuro seamlessly blends historic and modern elements. Ando added a new annex with floor-to-ceiling windows and raw concrete finishes. The 18 guest rooms are spread across both old and new wings, ranging from 33 to 79 sqm in size.

Guests rave about the rooms’ elegant décor and amenities. One guest stayed in the new annex and loved the “wide open bedroom with high ceilings.” Others enjoyed soaking in the open-air baths of the spacious Japanese suites. The vintage charm of the old building especially delighted Nintendo fans, “Everything about the facilities and service is top notch.”

Marufukuro takes the all-inclusive concept to new heights. The room rate includes breakfast, lunch, dinner, minibar access and an open bar – allowing guests to indulge freely without worrying about additional fees.

Marufukuro pricing ranges from $200s to $700s a night.

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The drinks selection earns glowing reviews. At the self-serve bar, one guest was thrilled to find premium whiskies like Laphroaig and Yamazaki. The bar and lounge areas create a relaxed social vibe. As one guest described it, “Even when the weather is bad, there are many things you can enjoy inside the hotel.”

Meals draw equal acclaim thanks to Chef Ai Hosokawa’s culinary prowess. Diners rave about the refined kappo-style dishes at Carta restaurant, from exquisite seafood to Wagyu beef. The menus change seasonally and cuisine options vary daily, so each meal feels unique. Breakfast gets called out for its beautiful presentation.

Beyond the food and amenities, Marufukuro wins praise for its gracious service. Staff converse comfortably in English, Chinese and Korean, answering questions and offering thoughtful recommendations. One guest wished for more extensive lounge dining, but overall rated it “very comfortable with great staff.”

While not officially affiliated with Nintendo today, Marufukuro offers a meaningful glimpse into the company’s roots. As one guest put it, “It’s where it all started.” The vision to transform this historic site into a luxury hotel originated with Banjo Yamauchi, the adopted grandson of Nintendo’s former president Hiroshi Yamauchi. Though the family sold its Nintendo shares in 2002, Banjo founded the real estate company behind Marufukuro to preserve the Yamauchi legacy.

For Nintendo fans, a stay here is a poignant experience. Guests talk of being “immersed in the afterglow” and feeling the “heartwarming story” of Nintendo’s early days. Even non-gamers find themselves enchanted by the rich heritage. It’s a rare treat to sleep inside a building where ingenious minds once imagined characters like Mario and Donkey Kong.

Marufukuro stands as both a tribute to Nintendo’s humble beginnings and a showcase of Japanese culture. Gourmet cuisine, omotenashi hospitality and meticulous service come together to create an unforgettable hotel offering. Whether you’re a Nintendo fanatic or simply appreciate historic architecture, Marufukuro is a jewel waiting to be discovered in the heart of Kyoto.

Address: 600-8126 Kyoto, Kyoto, Shimogyo-ku Kagiya cho 342, Japan

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