Whether you’d like to enjoy views over Lake Ashi or relax in your own private hot spring, there’s no better way to enjoy Hakone than with a stay in one of the hot spring region’s many traditional ryokans.
Hakone, a mountainous region made up of several small villages at the foot of Mount Fuji, is a popular weekend destination for Tokyoites and travellers looking to enjoy the region’s nature, art museums and steaming onsen. As a natural hot spring area, most of Hakone’s ryokans have public or private onsen available to guests, or are at least within walking distance of one.
From a spa break in Gora, the region’s central resort town, to a secluded stay in the northern Sengokuhara district, read on to find your perfect place to stay in Hakone.
Hilly Gora is a popular choice for visitors to Hakone; it is well connected with two train stations, replete with hot springs and spa hotels, home to Gora Park and a short walk from the Hakone Open-Air Museum. The area’s hotels and ryokans can be pricey, but the lovely Yutorelo-an is ideal for those looking for something both authentic and affordable. Japanese-style rooms with tatami mats and futon beds are available at the lower end of the price range, while those looking for a more deluxe experience should opt for a luxury room, which comes with its own open-air bath. Shared and private onsens are available to guests, along with complimentary coffee, a chocolate fountain and massage chairs.
Those looking for a lavish stay couldn’t do much better than checking in at the former summer home of the Imperial Family. Gōra Kadan prides itself on omotenashi, the Japanese principle that emphasises exceptional hospitality. Its restaurant serves up traditional, Japanese-style kaiseki, a multi-dish feast focusing on fresh, seasonal ingredients, while guests can enjoy shiatsu massages, outdoor and indoor onsen and even a bar and nightclub. If you’re able to tear yourself away from the ryokan, you’ll find Gora Park, Hakone Ropeway and the Hakone Open-Air Museum just minutes away.
Located in mountainous Sengokuhara, a district of Hakone popular in the autumn months for its fields of gold-hued pampas grass, Mount View Hakone offers a peaceful retreat that feels worlds away from nearby Tokyo. Here, guests have the unique experience of dipping into rare milk water hot springs, plus the chance to feast on traditional, seasonal dinners at the ryokan’s on-site restaurant. Mount View offers a selection of Western- and Japanese-style rooms.
A traditional, 100-year-old ryokan on the Hayakawa River in Tonosawa, Fukuzumiro is the perfect place to stay for an authentic ryokan experience. Guests are provided with slippers and yukata (a light, kimono-style garment) and can enjoy a traditional kaiseki dinner at the low wooden tables in each room. For a serene soak, there are communal onsen for men, women and families, respectively.
Hugged by verdant woodland in the lush Kowakudani region, this upscale ryokan at the foot of Mount Hakone manages to offer undisturbed tranquility while also being within walking distance from some of Hakone’s most popular attractions. While must-visit spots such as Chisuji Falls and Hakone Open-Air Museum are moments away, the ryokan’s garden is a destination in its own right; each season puts on an astonishing display here, from pale pink blossoms in the spring to snow-capped trees in the winter.
For a unique, personalised ryokan experience, look no further than Hakone Suishoen. Not only do each of the ryokan’s 23 rooms come with a private hot spring bath, but guests can also request a room with a hammock, a footbath and even a sauna. For dinner, there’s a choice between the traditional multi-dish kaiseki or teppanyaki, where a personal chef cooks your food on a special griddle before your eyes. Note: as of October 2019, Hakone Suishoen is temporarily closed due to typhoon damage.
Kinnotake Tonosawa is a modern take on the Japanese inn, blending contemporary luxuries with the old-world charm of a traditional ryokan. Plush, Western-style beds take the place of futons and tatami mats, and most rooms come with a luxurious open-air bath and a balcony overlooking the surrounding bamboo forest. A traditional Japanese kaiseki dinner is served in the evenings.
With its tranquil Japanese gardens, exceptional hospitality, soothing onsen and views over Lake Ashi and Mount Fuji, this charming ryokan pulls out all the stops. You’re immersed in the customs and culture of the ryokan from the moment you’re greeted at the door all the way through to the 18-dish kaiseki dinner, enjoyed at the low table in your room. Four minutes away is Lake Ashi, and those wanting to visit Hakone Shrine and its famous torii gate need only embark on a half-hour stroll around the water’s edge.