Tokyo is a fantastic city — there’s no doubt about that. It also has way too many people, like most major cities. A trip there is always a good idea, but one can only take on too many Shibuya crossings before feeling exhausted by the sheer amount of people. That is when you need a trip out of the city and into the countryside. Where better to rejuvenate one’s self than staying in luxury ryokans in Hakone?
A ryokan is a traditional Japanese inn. Some of these establishments are so old, they’ve been in existence since the eighth century A.D. These inns are the perfect place to experience not just the traditional Japanese way of living, but also omotenashi: the best Japanese hospitality. While most traditional ryokans still use tatami mats as beds, there are also newer Japanese ryokans that use modern beds. Pick the former for a more authentic experience.
You will also find that luxury ryokans will provide private hot springs that are connected to each room. Soak in them at your convenience, and you won’t have to worry about unconsciously staring at a stranger’s junk. The pinnacle of staying in luxury ryokans is perhaps the kaiseki, a traditional multi-course Japanese dinner that utilises the season’s freshest local ingredients.
Why stay in luxury ryokans in Hakone? Other than it being in fairly close proximity to Tokyo (less than a two-hour train ride), it’s also a national park that is known for its number of ryokans and onsens. On days with clear skies, you’ll also get a picturesque view of the majestic Mount Fuji. Below, you’ll find six of our favourite picks of luxury ryokans in Hakone.
Back in ancient times, ryokans were mostly used by travellers. Imagine the travellers that have been in Gora Hanaougi, especially since it is located along Tokaido, the historic roads of the Edo period, connecting Tokyo to Kyoto. The ryokan itself is surrounded by a picturesque natural landscape, which will make your outdoor onsen soak that much better.
Gora Hanaougi, 1300-681 Gōra, Hakone-machi, Ashigarashimo-gun, Kanagawa-ken 250-0408, Japan, +81 460-87-7715.
Also located in the Gora area is Gora Sounkaku, a traditional ryokan that has been open since the era of Taisho 14 — that’s 1925! Pick the Suite Room with a private open-air bath to fully enjoy the onsen facilities. Be sure to take the time to enjoy their kaiseki as well, which includes fresh seasonal ingredients. If you’re lucky, you might even enjoy some fresh Hida beef.
Gora Sounkaku, Hakone Machi Gora 1300-492, Ashigarashimo-gun, Kanagawa, 250-0408, Japan, +81-460-82-3311.
Formerly a summer villa for a member of the Imperial family, Gora Kadan today is a Japanese traditional ryokan that is also a member of the Relais & Chateaux. Gora Kadan focuses on a traditional Japanese style with modern influences, which is evident in its clean lines and minimal layout. The ryokan is also known for its elaborate kaiseki.
Gora Kadan, 1300, Gora, Hakone-machi, Ashigarashimogun, Kanagawa, Japan, +81-460-82-3331.
Traditional ryokans dating back to 1920 is not uncommon, but Hakone Suishoen is also registered as an important cultural asset because it was formerly an aristocratic villa. Every part of this pre-war building oozes sophistication and understated luxury, as do their omotenashi. There are 23 rooms in the ryokan, each featuring traits of ancient Japan in both interior style and furniture. Indulge in some spa time with Suishoen Spa by Sisley, featuring the Parisian skincare brand.
Hakone Suishoen, 519-9 Kowakudani, Hakone, Ashigarashimo District, Kanagawa Prefecture 250-0406, Japan, +81 460-86-0852.
The Hoshino Resorts Kai Hakone opens up to perhaps one of the most scenic views of its surrounding landscapes. It truly is a view to behold, as the changing of each season brings a different yet equally breathtaking view. Take in either the river or mountain view from the traditional Japanese wooden interior, and soak in the spring waters of Kowakudani.
Hoshino Resorts Kai Hakone, 230 Yumotochaya, Hakone-machi, Ashigarashimo, Kanagawa, Japan, +81-0570-073-011.
Surrounded by a bamboo thicket and sounds of the Hayakawa River flowing, Yama no Chaya is a welcome respite of serenity that simply invites you to sip tea and be comfortable. The rustic atmosphere complements the outstanding kaiseki, meticulously prepared by Chef Matsuki who trained in Nadaman, a renowned traditional ryotei restaurant in Tokyo.
Yama no Chaya, 171 Tonosawa, Hakone, Ashigarashimo District, Kanagawa Prefecture 250-0315, Japan, +81 460-85-5493.