Fukuoka is the gateway to Kyushu, the sun-soaked southern end of Japan’s four major islands. And this outdoorsy city brims with Hakata ramen, yatai food stalls and hotels that suit every budget.
It’s easy to overlook Fukuoka on a Japanese itinerary because it doesn’t boast the big-name attractions found in neighbouring destinations. But this sunny city doesn’t only dish out some of the most mouth-watering street food in Japan – it also serves up crumbling castle gardens, sell-out baseball and sumo events, and island escapes to nearby Nokonoshima and Shikanoshima. Whether you’re splashing cash or backpacking on a shoestring, these are the best Fukuoka hotels for every traveller’s budget.
A sparkling property that opened in September 2019, this luxury hotel is billed as the “hotel of green, water and light” thanks to a glistening glass facade and lush vertical garden. The highlight is a rooftop wellness space featuring an indoor onsen as well as an outdoor pool and a 26ft (8m) waterfall. An elegant French restaurant takes advantage of lofty views over Fukuoka Airport. Plus, the hotel is connected to Hakata Station – a Shinkansen bullet train terminal linking Fukuoka to the rest of Kyushu.
Situated in a corner of the city that survived relatively unscathed from World War II, this former home was converted into a family-run ryokan in 1970, offering a traditional Japanese atmosphere, which can be hard to find in other Fukuoka neighbourhoods. That ambience is strongest in the on-site restaurant, which plates French fusion cuisine in four paper-doored dining rooms. One room at the inn has an en-suite bathroom – there are shared showers and lavatories on both floors, as well as a private bath you can reserve each evening.
This modern hostel isn’t your typical dirt-cheap backpacker spot. Opened in April 2018, Hostel TOKI supplies spacious timber bunks, each equipped with a power point, reading light and shelf carrying a small safe – a godsend for any traveller who’s ever fumbled around a shared charging station in the dark, or worried about a room-mate swiping their valuables. The English-speaking staff run activities in the cosy common room such as Japanese tea ceremonies, Shodo calligraphy and origami lessons.
Every bespoke element of this luxury hotel has been designed by local creators to guarantee guests a great morning. The walls and ceilings are made of natural materials that absorb odour and humidity. Rooms are fitted with an F-CON cooling system – not air con – designed to be gentle on the skin and throat, while feather-stuffed duvets adorn bamboo bed frames from designer Tamotsu Yagi. Even the silk-like towels are made of bamboo rayon, and the toothpaste is a cocktail of mineral water, noni juice and natural salt from the Amakusa Islands.
Sandwiched between the open-air Marinoa City Fukuoka shopping mall and the yachts bobbing in Hakata Bay, this resort boasts a peerless waterfront location. As well as the convenience of staring across the water at the Meinohama Ferry Passenger Terminal, Hotel Marinoa Resort includes simple modern rooms, a vegetable-loving French restaurant and a terrace spa with a bay backdrop.
This capsule hotel towers over Hakata Station, delivering an uber-central location minus the price tag. The capsules themselves are basic, but the roomy charcoal bathrooms and chic lobby café are comfortable common facilities for budget travellers. The 24-hour front desk and shared sun terrace are other convenient aspects of this cost-effective choice.
Just on the other side of the Hakata River from the neon-lit Nakasu district, Hotel Vista opened in December 2019. The rooms are compact but contemporary, and there are large public baths separated by gender, though the major draw is the proximity to the entertainment precinct of Fukuoka. A daily breakfast buffet serves Japanese and Western dishes, if you’ve got any appetite left after indulging in the street food from the yatai stalls in Nakasu the night before.
South of Nakasu sits one of the best options for families in Fukuoka. The 11 guest rooms of the Grand Base are perfect for larger groups thanks to their fireplaces, lounge and dining rooms, and kitchenettes kitted with refrigerators, stovetops and microwaves. The blond-timber bedrooms are snug but can accommodate as many as 11 people in some apartments, while balconies add even more space for big groups.