10 luxurious ryokans in Tokyo
21 October 2016
Travelling to Japan means opening yourself up to a rich landscape of arts, culture and culinary delights. While putting up at a grand hotel is the conventional way to go about it, wanderlust seekers who are searching for a touch of traditional Japan may prefer to opt for a Ryokan instead.
An inn that is styled following the customs of the Japanese, a ryokan will usually include tatami floorings and futon beds. It is an experience you won’t find outside Japan, and should definitely be a part of your travel itinerary — even if it’s just for one night.
There are also many ryokans near enough to Tokyo that will take less than an hour’s journey, depending on the mode of transportation you select. Hakone is a popular spot, with lush properties overlooking the mountains and hot springs. With that in mind, we picked out 10 luxury ryokans you should consider the next time you head into Tokyo for your next getaway.
Andon Ryokan is architectural proof that tradition and modernity are not strange bedfellows. Masayuki Irie is the brilliant mind responsible for the aesthetic of this ryokan, and he made sure to marry the best aspects of a customary ryokan with modern characteristics in its appearance, like pop art inspired murals that resemble graffiti.
It is proudly listed as an LGBT-friendly accommodation, a profound nod to current times, yet is nestled in a location where traditional Tokyo shops can still be found. Wonderful dichotomies like these makes Andon Ryokan a must-visit place.
Sukeroku no Yado Sadachiyo
With many of Tokyo’s ryokans making way for newer buildings, Sadachiyo is a cultural icon in its own right. Embellished with antiques and wood block paints, you will be able to enjoy a tatami matted room. For added comfort, you will be supplied with a yukata, a light cotton kimono. Traditional Japanese meals are available for breakfast at dinner at Sukeroku no Yado Sadachiyo.
The Ryokan is also equipped with communal baths, in either a stone or wood finish. Location-wise it is very close to Senso Temple and Tokyo Skytree. Shopping enthusiasts can always take a five-minute walk to Kappabashi shopping street and unleash their inner shopaholic at any of the 170 stores in the area.
The preservation of Japan’s culture is an important factor in Hoshinoya’s design, which is why they looked to local history to build a hotel that shows off the best of Japan – ryokans included. What sets theirs apart from the rest is the addition of an ochanoma lounge in every ryokan.
At Hoshinoya Tokyo, guests can tantalize their taste buds with some tea or tuck into a bowl of steaming hot miso soup as they take in the comforting surroundings furnished with a library and sofas. Ryokan-style meals are also provided here, and guests can opt to dine either at the restaurant or in their individual room. Finally, you simply have to take a dip in their hot spring pool, which is located on the top floor and boasts the best views of Tokyo.
This Ryokan is located in the Yugawara area, and is about 30 minutes away from the Tokyo Railway Station. Here you’ll be surrounded by the lush landscapes of Mount Fuji, and the accommodation is near enough for you to plan a hike as well. If outdoor adventures aren’t your style, Hotel Sansuiro has lots to keep you occupied with.
Their open air hot spring is breath-taking to say the least, as you will get a first class view of the mountains. An indoor bath is also available, and just as gorgeous, overlooking the garden, so you still get a sense of nature around you. The ryokans also consider the surroundings, so choose wisely. Whether you prefer views of the mountains, streams, or just want a cool breeze sweeping in, Sansuiro has it. Meals are served kaiseki style, in keeping with Japanese ryokan traditions.
Ashikari is very much a traditional ryokan, where nature envelops you in an embrace of flora and fauna, and a historical hot spring that has been around for more than 1500 years serves as a landmark for this proudly Japanese establishment. The meals here are served up with grandeur; their restaurant is even listed in the Michelin Guide for their kaiseki cuisine.
The charming ryokan is about an hour from Tokyo by train, but once you get there you’ll forget about the time spent in commute. Four different room options are available, each with its own distinctly Japanese aesthetic, but for the benefit of international guests, they have taken into consideration Western style amenities as well. Only 18 rooms are available on the property, making it a quiet and restful location, perfect for those in need of a peaceful getaway.
Hop on a train at Tokyo and you’ll reach Atami Fufu in 40 minutes. Built in 2004, which is considered fairly new by Japanese standards, this ryokan still maintains the best of Japanese tradition, particularly in terms of adopting the art of omotenashi, which is a term that describes treating guests with hospitality.
Gourmet kaiseki meals for breakfast and dinner are available, as is Teppanyaki, made by a skilled master chef. Pair your meals with some sake and you will truly experience the best that Japan has to offer in terms of culinary ideals. And if gastronomical delights aren’t enough to satiate you, book a session at their spa, to engage in full on relaxation mode.
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Historically speaking, Hakone Suishoen is a building that has stood the test of time. Once an aristocratic villa, Hakone Suishoen is now considered a cultural artefact and asset. Basking in the affable service “with a refined style” at Hakone Suishoen isn’t too difficult. It will only take 40 minutes by train from Tokyo to arrive at Hakone, after all.
Once you do get there, forget about the hustle and bustle of the city and prepare to take a step back in time once you set foot in this pre-war building. Each of the 23 rooms in this ryokan features elements of ancient Japan, be it in the design or furniture. Coupled with natural elements in the form of the plantation surrounding the area and the birds that nestle there for shelter, you will be in for a treat unlike any other. Meals here too are provided kaiseki style, and teppanyaki specials are also available.
Gora Kadan is another Ryokan in the Hakone area that joins the ranks as a cultural icon of Japan, still standing strong as a symbolic reminder of the Japanese people’s unfaltering will. It once served as the summer villa of an Imperial family, but today is open for any who want to venture there.
Several room options are available, and while each is very much in tune with typical Japanese culture, the room that features an open-air stone bath certainly is tempting, and a lovely nod to the simple traditions of early Japan. Character and charm are all part of the package at Gora Kadan, from the vintage architecture to the natural spring water that flows in abundance.
Kaiseki meals are served, either in your room or at the restaurant. You can also treat yourself to an indulgent spa experience at the Kadan Spa on the property.
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Another Hakone property worth choosing is Hakone-Ginyu. You could almost miss it the way it is practically shrouded by the mountains. Whether you are looking for a place to retreat to or a form of respite, you may just find it here as you recline in the open air hot spring bath and take in the surroundings.
With each room equipped with a private outdoor spring, a promised a view of the Hakone Moutain is all your really need to feel at peace with the world, away from all the noise of the city. Plus, there are also five public hot springs on the premises altogether, both indoors and outdoors. Their garden lounge is different from your average bar, but an experience nonetheless. An array of relaxing treatments are available at the Ginyu spa, for both men and women.
Yama no Chaya
This isn’t for the faint of heart, because getting to your accommodation requires crossing a suspended bridge. Like many Hakone properties, the idyllic allure of Yama no Chaya is also almost camouflaged by its magnanimous surroundings, but it is never boring. Yama no Chaya gets its name from the term “mountain teahouse”, and this has been the case for over 50 years.
While the roots of this place runs deep, the owner stresses that he wants the place to be identified as fun and friendly, so that people will always return. Here you can take inspiration from the babbling sounds from Hayakawa River, which is visible from the ryokan, or in the gastronomical delights that await you for breakfast and dinner, each enhanced with the freshest ingredients and perfected by a renowned chef.
Seven options are available for rooms, but as always with Hakone, you cannot leave without a dip first. Here, you’ll be able to enjoy five different hot spring options at what they call the Tonosawa Spa, each with spectacular views and fascinating sounds to tickle all your senses at once.
Written by Thash Nathan
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