6 Hakone Ryokans and Onsens to Rejuvenate You
Hakone is a small, mountainous region outside of Tokyo that offers the perfect place to relax and rejuvenate. The landscape is dotted with lakes, forests and hot springs, which are all part of what makes Hakone so special.
Hakone's lakes are surrounded by hills and mountains, making them a popular destination for hiking. There are many different trails that can be taken depending on your level of fitness and skill level. The best ones include Lake Ashi, Lake Inari, Lake Moto-Hakone and Lake Sai-ko. These lakes are surrounded by beautiful views of nature including forests and waterfalls.
If you're looking for some peace and quiet then a trip to Hakone Ryokan may be right up your alley! A traditional Japanese inn is an excellent way to experience everything this region has to offer while also enjoying some much needed time away from everything else going on back home or at work during these busy times we live in today!
Formerly the summer villa of the imperial prince, Gora Kadan is now a renovated ryokan. Part of the luxurious Relais & Chateau Group, the Tudor-style main building is set amongst natural rock gardens and a grumbling water feature.
After a long soak in your room's wooden bathtub, step into your private garden to admire the changing autumn leaves before plopping into your comfortable mattress for a well-deserved nap. Or, sample a suite if you prefer your own outdoor rock bath, steam sauna and views of the mountains or gardens.
Walking through the villa's gardens, you will find Kadan Spa, where you can relax with stone therapy body treatments and aromatherapy facials. You can order a shiatsu massage to your room, or take a walk to the family onsen to enjoy the flowing springs and steam sauna.
Your kaiseki dinner is served in your room and includes seasonal dishes featuring a variety of textures and flavours. Beautiful as pictured, dishes range from freshly prepared sashimi to roasted Wagyu beef with shiitake mushrooms and asparagus, or figs cooked in grape syrup. Everything is served with the famous omotenashi (Japanese hospitality) to help you understand the dishes and the best way to enjoy them.
After dinner, walk to Tsukimidai Terrace overlooking Mount Daimonji-yama and sip a glass of bubbles while listening to the soft rustle of the bamboo forest. If you're feeling alive, grab a microphone and belt out your favorite tunes at Club AI's karaoke bar.
Tucked away in a valley on the banks of the Sukumo River, Hoshino Resort Kai Hakone is a stone's throw from Hakone-Yumoto Station but feels very secluded. The hotel features two single-sex onsens designed to highlight the natural landscape, with soaring ceilings and walls open to nature. As you relax in the thermal waters, look up from the treetops to Mount Yusaka while the sound of the nearby river relaxes you. After soaking, stop by the Yuagari Lounge between the two onsen for a cooling drink.
Returning to your room, floor-to-ceiling doors lead to your private balcony overlooking the babbling river and forest canopy. Choose one of the Western-style Kai Signature Rooms for a private outdoor bath to expand your Hakone onsen experience further into luxury.
For dinner, put on your natural hemp yukata and take a seat in your personal rice paper dining room. The nine-course kaiseki dish features the house's signature meiji nabe: skillet-cooked meat in a miso sauce and a sumptuous broth with vegetables. If you want to learn more about Japanese culture, you can join a traditional tea ceremony or storytelling session. Visit the gift shop on your way out for crafts such as polished parquet made from traditional techniques unique to Hakone.
The public baths at Aura Tachibana set the tone of luxury with waterfall showers, saunas and Japanese parasol pine tubs filled with clear alkaline springs. Sit indoors and view the garden through the floor-to-ceiling windows, or sink into the outdoor bathtub and feel the cool breeze against your shoulders. For a special treat, book a private rooftop onsen for an additional fee and gaze at the stars through the steam, or watch the sun set over lush greenery and mountain peaks.
With two mouth-watering restaurants to choose from, this hotel enhances your typical kaiseki dining experience. Enjoy an intimate and cozy evening with dim lighting and warm tones, or opt for a more relaxed and lively meal on the outdoor terrace adorned with market umbrellas and mountain views. After a steamy miso-flavored dinner and a creamy fruit-based dessert, discover the constellations from Sky Terrace or order local whiskey or plum wine and relax in the comfort of the library.
When it comes to bedding, you can choose from a Western or Japanese style bedroom. Larger rooms offer the option of a tatami sitting area for extra space. Slip on your yukata and step out onto your private balcony for mountain views and your own open-air hot springs.
Nestled deep in the forest and flanked by a shimmering lake, Kinnotake Tonosawa is an oasis accessed by a suspension bridge over the valley. Based on a traditional story where a woman falls in love with an emperor before being sent to the moon, this hotel is a haven for couples looking for a romantic getaway.
Each of the 23 open-air rooms comes with their own private outdoor onsen with views of the bamboo forest and lush hillsides. The sleek modern rooms come with hardwood floors, futon bedding and modern comforts like an iPad, so you can create your own soundtrack before sinking into your private hot spring bath. Stay in one of the first-floor rooms for views of the koi pond, or sample the spacious luxury suites on the Club Floor with tatami living areas.
After watching the lights flash in the bamboo forest at dusk, head to the on-site restaurant for your kaiseki dinner prepared by the hotel's trained head chef in Kyoto. The next morning, enjoy a traditional Japanese breakfast featuring dishes such as steamed egg pudding, grilled snapper and savory miso soup.
The open-air onsen is already quite special, but Hakone Kowakien TEN-YU is on the next level with its infinity-pool hot springs overlooking the green forest. Where is it better to watch the sun slip behind a mountain peak, or bathe under a canopy of stars with steam rising all around you? Opened in 2017, this modern ryokan is larger than most with 150 rooms combining traditional Japanese décor with Western bedding or futons. In addition, each room is equipped with a Japanese-style ceramic bath.
On a slow afternoon, follow the trails that wind through manicured gardens and waterfalls to reach the Shinto Shrine. Or, soak in the hotel's fifth-floor hot springs with forest views and flowing water features, letting the mineral-rich, restoring waters do their magic. Head to AN-SPA for the Kagae 'Wakan' therapy using oils blended with oriental herbs known for healing and rejuvenation, and drift under the scent of cyprus yuzu and hinoki wood massage oils.
When you're feeling hungry, the on-site restaurant provides options from traditional kaiseki to Japanese soba noodles to teppanyaki featuring Matsusaka beef and abalone. You can combine room and dining options when booking, and while you're there you can arrange a day trip to the nearby Yunessun Spa, a hot spring theme park where you can take a bath made of wine or coffee.
In traditional Sukiya style, Yamagaso's six guest rooms are actually separate huts spread across the hotel grounds. Attentive touches will pamper you throughout your stay, from tea service on arrival to traditional dinner and breakfast served in your room. Sink into the cane armchair overlooking your private garden terrace, or toast your toes on the dining table with warmer feet. Minimalist design details such as tatami mat flooring, rice paper sliding doors, wooden ceilings and painted scrolls will give you an insight into traditional Japanese life.
To pamper yourself, you will have a choice of bathing experiences. It doesn't get more personal than a wooden tub in your room fed by a natural geyser. Head to one of the on-site baths, such as a coral pool-style outdoor onsen backed by green mountains, and enjoy the fragrance of the forest. After bathing, make your way back to your hut through a manicured Japanese garden filled with flowers, stone statues, a koi pond, and a bamboo water feature. If you visit in spring, you may be lucky enough to witness the cherry blossoms covering the property with their petals like soft pink confetti.