The Best Hotels to Book in Takayama, Japan

Edo-era merchants’ houses line the narrow streets of the Sanmachi Suji historic district in Takayama
Edo-era merchants’ houses line the narrow streets of the Sanmachi Suji historic district in Takayama | © Magdalena Bujak / Alamy Stock Photo
Joe Bindloss

The Meiji and Edo periods cast a powerful spell in Takayama, an atmospheric town in central Honshū, Japan, where old-fashioned wooden homes line whole streets, and historic shrines and traditional inns dot the hills, dusted with snow in winter. The historic Sanmachi Suji district has the best Edo-era merchants’ houses, while other areas have more modern hotels. Here’s our pick – bookable on Culture Trip.

1. Wanosato

Independent Hotel

Interior sitting area at Wanosato, with two armchairs separated by a wooden coffee table, and a large, room-width window with views onto the forest
Courtesy of Wanosato / Expedia

There’s history to spare in downtown Takayama, but for added serenity, it’s hard to beat Wanosato, a secluded ryokan (traditional inn) in the forest near the Miyagawa River on the slopes of Mt Kurai. With wooden furniture, shōji screens and calligraphy scrolls, bedrooms seem plucked from another century, and there’s a gorgeous wood-lined traditional bathhouse and a 160-year-old irori (traditional open fireplace) where you can keep cosy in winter.

2. eph Takayama

Hotel

Room interior at eph TAKAYAMA, with two single beds and a sliding cupboard door with a mural on it
Courtesy of eph Takayama / Expedia

Seconds from the station, perfect for easy arrivals and departures, the eph Takayama is small, boutique and modern. The compact, cosy rooms are full of soft upholstery and wood trim, with Japanese-style tubs, subtle lighting and downtown views. The big breakfast buffet includes Western, Japanese and Chinese treats (think muesli, egg rolls and bao buns). The hotel’s location is convenient for reaching everything in the centre.

3. Hostel Fish in a River

Hotel, Guesthouse

View of a Hostel Fish in a River room from the exterior; inside is two single beds on a traditional tatami, outside is a small garden
Courtesy of Hostel Fish in a River / Expedia

North of the train station in the residential Okamotomachi district, this intimate guesthouse has calming, Japanese-style rooms adorned with carved wood and filled with light. It’s small and friendly, and despite the name, accommodation is in three private rooms overlooking a small courtyard garden. There’s a simple, shared dining area (with a microwave and a fridge) and plenty of places to eat within easy sauntering distance.

4. Auberge Hida no Mori

Hotel

Exterior view of the hotel building of Auberge Hidanomori, with trees and a wraparound deck in front
Courtesy of Auberge Hida no Mori / Expedia

Set on the southern outskirts, where Takayama breaks down into fields and forested hills, this secluded guesthouse is hidden in a woodland copse, but a free shuttle bus can zip you here from downtown. Inside the tidy white cottage are uncluttered, wood-trimmed, Western-style rooms that create an instant sense of calm. There are relaxing shared spaces, and the hosts offer tasty home-cooked breakfasts and Italian dinners.

5. Ichinomatsu Japanese Modern Hotel

Hotel

Light-filled, night-time exterior of Ichinomatsu Japanese Modern Hotel, with a deck with seating in the foreground and a garden in the background
Courtesy of Ichinomatsu Japanese Modern Hotel / Expedia

Don’t be misled by the name of this sleek suburban guesthouse, set in a residential neighbourhood near the Sunori River. The rooms are indeed modern in style, with wooden trim, flat-screen TVs and soft, sink-into-the-mattress beds, but they’re set in an old-fashioned house with a lovely courtyard rock garden that creates a cosseting sense of calm. There are tatami-style and Western-style rooms, so take your pick.

6. Temple Hotel Takayama Zenkoji

Hotel

Nighttime exterior view of the garden at Temple Hotel Takayama Zenkoji, with a view into the traditional, light-filled, single-storey building
Courtesy of Temple Hotel Takayama Zenkoji / Expedia

Part of the working Zenkō-ji temple, this charming hotel invites you to exhale deeply, with Zen meditation and Buddhist rituals as part of the routine. Vast, open tatami rooms have Buddhist objects to set the appropriate mood and screen windows that slide open to reveal a central garden. At night, the light spilling through the screens into the garden is quite magical.

7. Wat Hotel and Spa Hida Takayama

Hotel, Spa Hotel

Sitting room interior at Wat Hotel & Spa Hida Takayama, with an armchair, sofa, and sliding door out to a balcony
Courtesy of Wat Hotel and Spa Hida Takayama / Expedia

The smart rooms almost take a backseat to the onsen (hot spring) at this spic-and-span spa hotel. Some of the alkaline-rich hot-spring waters of Takayama flow into indoor and outdoor public baths, and taking a dip is an integral part of a hotel stay. Rooms have tasteful colours, subtle lighting and blackout blinds, but some are definitely roomier than others. Indeed, the economy rooms take compactness to a whole new level.

8. Hida Takayama Futarishizuka Hakuun

Hotel

Steam-filled bathhouse interior of Hidatakayama Futarishizuka Hakuun, with a large bath in the foreground and the background
Courtesy of Hida Takayama Futarishizuka Hakuun / Booking.com

The woodland ruins of Takayama’s 16th-century castle rise behind this graceful ryokan on the hillside, complete with a raised deck looking out over the city. It’s set in a lovely timbered house, with open-air wooden tubs where you can soak while admiring the views. Tatami-lined rooms have either cedar or ceramic bathtubs, low seating and great city or forest views – including from the bathrooms.

Takayama isn’t the only great city in Japan; take advantage of the Japan rail pass to get the best out of the Land of the Rising Sun.

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