This is turning out to be quite a banner year for Nobuyuki Matsuhisa. Almost at the same time as the celebrity chef and latterly hotelier opens Nobu Hotel Shoreditch in London, he is launching Nobu Ryokan Malibu across the pond.
Considerably smaller in scale and ambition, the two-storey Malibu property features just 16 rooms that are anchored by a 37ft long outdoor lap pool and an ipe wood deck that overlooks Malibu Pier and the Pacific Ocean.
Each room is furnished and modelled after the traditional Japanese inn, though it’s hard to imagine any ryokan boasting ocean views like this. Studio PCH and Montalba Architects have converted a 1950s landmark, the former Casa Malibu beach motel, into a serene sanctuary that interior designers led by TAL Studio have swathed with handmade teak soaking tubs and bronze and limestone detailing, alongside tatami mats, shoji screens, George Nakashima furniture and linen yukatas.
After such a quintessentially Japanese setting, it’s almost a shock to emerge into the bright Californian sunshine and take in the storied sweep of Carbon Beach and its bristling armada of bronzed surfers. A couple of doors down the Pacific Coast Highway is Nobu Malibu restaurant where executive chef Gregorio Stephenson serves up surf and turf by way of yellowtail sashimi with jalapeño, and ribeye with truffle butter sauce and crisp Maui onions.