Konnichiwa! If you’re considering a visit to Hakone, I highly recommend immersing yourself in the culture by staying at one of the many remarkable ryokans available. Having had the privilege of exploring several ryokans on my recent summer trip to Hakone, I’m happy to share my top five selections, each crafted to suit diverse preferences. I did the research so you don’t have to! All of the ryokans on this list have access to a private onsen and can include traditional meals for both breakfast and dinner.
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- Best Overall Ryokan in Hakone with Private Onsen: Matsuzakaya Honten
- Best Ryokan in Hakone for Couples with Private Onsen: Kinnotake Konosawa
- Best Budget Friendly Ryokan in Hakone with Private Onsen: Ryokan Kiritani Hakoneso
- Best Luxury Ryokan in Hakone with Private Onsen: Hakone Tokinoshizuku
- Best Kid Friendly Ryokan in Hakone with Private Onsen: Hotel Okada
What is a Ryokan?
A ryokan is a traditional Japanese inn that offers guests a unique and immersive cultural experience. These inns have a history dating back many centuries and have preserved their authentic charm and customs throughout the years. Staying in a ryokan allows visitors to experience the traditional Japanese lifestyle, hospitality, and aesthetics.
Key features of a ryokan include:
- Architecture and Design: Ryokans typically have a distinctive design characterized by wooden structures, sliding doors (fusuma), tatami mat flooring, and minimalist decor. The emphasis is on creating a serene and tranquil atmosphere.
- Tatami Rooms: Ryokan guest rooms are usually furnished with tatami mats, which are traditional straw mats. Guests sleep on futon mattresses placed on the tatami floor, and the room can be transformed into a living area during the day.
- Onsen (Hot Spring): Many ryokans feature onsen, natural hot spring baths, which are an integral part of Japanese culture. These communal (and sometimes private) baths offer relaxation and are believed to have therapeutic properties.
- Kaiseki Cuisine: One of the highlights of staying in a ryokan is the traditional multi-course kaiseki dinner, featuring seasonal and locally sourced ingredients, artfully presented to delight both the eyes and palate.
- Yukata: Guests are provided with yukata, which are lightweight cotton robes, to wear during their stay. These robes are comfortable and often adorned with beautiful patterns.
- Omotenashi: Ryokans are known for their exceptional hospitality, with the staff going above and beyond to ensure guests’ comfort and satisfaction. Expect personalized service and attention to detail.
- Tranquility: Ryokans are typically located in serene and picturesque settings, such as in rural areas, by hot springs, or in historic districts, offering guests a peaceful retreat from the bustle of modern life.
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Things to Consider When Choosing a Ryokan
When choosing a ryokan for your stay, there are several important factors to consider to ensure you have a memorable and enjoyable experience. Here are some key things to keep in mind:
- Onsen (Hot Spring) Facilities: If you’re interested in experiencing the traditional Japanese onsen, check if the ryokan has its own hot spring facilities. Some ryokans offer both indoor and outdoor baths, and others may have private onsen options. Ensure you’re comfortable with communal bathing customs if the onsen is public.
- Room Size and Amenities: Different ryokans offer varying room sizes and amenities. Consider the size of the room, the type of bedding (futon on tatami mats or Western-style beds), and the availability of ensuite bathrooms or shared facilities. Also, check for in-room amenities such as Wi-Fi, TV, and air conditioning, depending on your preferences.
- Dining Experience: Kaiseki is an integral part of the ryokan experience. Check the ryokan’s dining options, whether they serve traditional multi-course kaiseki meals or offer other dining choices. Additionally, consider any dietary restrictions or preferences you may have and ensure the ryokan can accommodate them.
- Language Support: Some ryokans may have limited English-speaking staff, so it’s essential to ensure you can communicate effectively during your stay. If you don’t speak Japanese, look for ryokans that offer multilingual staff or have English translations available. All recommendations in this post have English speaking staff
- On-site Facilities: Depending on your interests, check if the ryokan offers any additional facilities or activities, such as gardens, tea rooms, cultural experiences, or massage services.
- Family-Friendly and Age Restrictions: If you’re traveling with family or children, make sure the ryokan is family-friendly and can accommodate young guests. Some ryokans may have age restrictions or limited facilities for children.
- Reviews and Ratings: Read reviews and check ratings of the ryokan from previous guests. Online platforms like Klook.com or Booking.com can provide valuable insights into the experiences of other travelers.
- Budget: Consider your budget for the stay. Ryokans can vary significantly in price, so it’s essential to find one that aligns with your budget while still offering a satisfying experience.
- Special Offers and Packages: Some ryokans may offer special packages or deals, especially during off-peak seasons. Be on the lookout for any promotions or discounts that can enhance your stay.
By carefully considering these factors, you can choose a ryokan that best suits your preferences and ensures a memorable and culturally immersive experience during your stay in Japan.
1. Best Overall Ryokan in Hakone
Why it Won: Matsuzakaya Honten in Hakone claims the title of the best overall ryokan for its unparalleled service. It encompasses a harmonious blend of service, atmosphere, private onsen, and food that will make your visit memorable. It is located in a slightly more remote area of Hakone, making it a serene and peaceful getaway. This ryokan captures the essence of relaxation and cultural immersion, presenting guests with an authentic and enriching experience.
- Website: Matsuzakaya Honten
- Neighborhood: Hakone, Kanagawa, 8.4 miles from Hakone-Yumoto Station
- Traditional Breakfast and Dinner: A delightful traditional breakfast and dinner is offered, showcasing local flavors and ingredients.
- Onsen: In room open air onsen available, providing an essential and rejuvenating part of the ryokan experience.
- Family Friendly: Absolutely, catering to diverse groups with its inclusive amenities and services.
- Room Features: Elegantly designed rooms featuring en-suite bathrooms, serene views of nature, and a genuine touch of Japanese aesthetics. Complimentary Wi-Fi is also provided for modern convenience.
Overall Impression: Matsuzakaya Honten Hakone stands as a testament to a truly comprehensive ryokan experience, blending cultural authenticity with relaxation. Ideal for all types of travelers seeking an unforgettable stay, this ryokan crafts a perfect harmony between tradition and modern comfort amidst Hakone’s captivating beauty.
2. Best Ryokan in Hakone for Couples
Why it won: Kinnotake Kinosawa emerges as the ultimate romantic haven in Hakone, enchanting couples with a seamless fusion of modern luxury and traditional allure. Nestled amidst the natural beauty of Hakone, this ryokan offers an intimate escape where couples can bask in relaxation and intimacy with mountain views. Don’t forget to try a massage! The hospitality and service is top notch.
- Website: https://www.kinnotake.com/en/kinosawa-en/
- Neighborhood: Hakone, a 10-minute bus ride and walk away from Hakone-Yumoto Station and 20-minute bus ride and walk away from Kowakudani Station.
- Traditional Breakfast and Dinner: Served in-room.
- Onsen: Private open-air onsen baths available, ensuring an intimate and rejuvenating soaking experience.
- Adults-Only: Yes, exclusively designed for couples and adults seeking tranquility.
- Room Amenities: Each room boasts a private en-suite bathroom, plush futon bedding, a meticulously curated minibar, and complimentary Wi-Fi.
Overall opinion: Kinnotake Kinosawa stands as a testament to romance and luxury, inviting couples to create cherished moments amidst Hakone’s serene landscape. Ideal for those in search of an intimate escape, this ryokan weaves an unforgettable tale of love and relaxation.
3. Best Budget Friendly Ryokan in Hakone
Ryokan Kiritani Hakoneso
Why it Won: Ok, a ryokan in Hakone can be expensive. Of the options, though, Ryokan Kiritani Hakoneso shines as the premier budget-friendly choice, providing a harmonious blend of affordability and authentic Japanese hospitality. Nestled amidst the scenic beauty of Hakone, this ryokan offers a welcoming haven where guests can immerse themselves in traditional charm without straining their finances.
- Website: Ryokan Kiritani Hakoneso
- Neighborhood: Hakone, Kanagawa, a 5-minute walk from Koenkami Cable Car Station
- Traditional Breakfast and Dinner: Available, featuring locally inspired delights.
- Onsen: A private indoor bath and a private open-air bath are available for private use with reservation.
- Family Friendly: Yes
Overall Impression: Ryokan Kiritani Hakoneso serves as a testament to the perfect fusion of affordability and cultural immersion. Ideal for budget-conscious travelers, this ryokan captures the essence of Hakone’s charm without exceeding your budget. Nestled in the tranquil landscapes of Hakone, it offers an authentic experience that showcases Japan’s heritage while being gentle on your wallet.
4. Best Luxury Ryokan in Hakone
Why it Won: Hakone Tokinoshizuku emerges as the epitome of luxury ryokan experiences in Hakone, seamlessly weaving opulence and traditional Japanese elegance to craft an unparalleled retreat with 5-star service. This ryokan stands out for its unwavering commitment to exceptional service and exquisite design, as well as great views, setting a new benchmark for lavish indulgence in Hakone. Great service, great food, and great views in addition to a private onsen put this ryokan on top.
- Website: Hakone Tokinoshizuku
- Neighborhood: Hakone, Kanagawa, located 4.5 miles from Hakone-Yumoto Station
- Traditional Breakfast and Dinner: Served daily, showcasing an array of traditional and seasonal culinary delights.
- Onsen: Private onsen facilities available, providing an exclusive and rejuvenating bathing encounter amidst the serene Hakone setting.
- Family Friendly: Absolutely.
- Room Highlights: Lavishly appointed rooms featuring en-suite bathrooms, luxurious futon bedding, thoughtfully curated minibars, and high-speed complimentary Wi-Fi.
Overall Impression: Hakone Tokinoshizuku stands as a testament to refined luxury, seamlessly merging contemporary extravagance with the quintessence of Japanese heritage. Tailored for the discerning traveler seeking the zenith of indulgence, this ryokan offers an enchanting sojourn amid Hakone’s tranquil beauty.
5. Best Kid Friendly Ryokan in Hakone
Why it Won: So, you are looking for a private onsen in Hakone, but you are worried about disturbing someone else’s honeymoon and you are looking for something family oriented. This is it! Hotel Okada in Hakone stands out for its exceptional kid-friendly environment, making it a prime choice for families seeking an unforgettable retreat. This ryokan not only offers a serene escape but also caters specifically to families, ensuring a delightful and rejuvenating getaway. The ryokan guarantees a captivating stay for family members of all ages.
- Website: Hotel Okada Hakone
- Neighborhood: Hakone, Kanagawa, the Hakone Yumoto Train Station is a 5-minute bus ride away
- Traditional Breakfast and Dinner: Provided, with a variety of options to suit all tastes.
- Onsen: Onsen facilities available, ensuring a unique and relaxing experience for both adults and children (advance reservations required).
- Family Friendly: Absolutely, with amenities and services tailored to the needs of families.
- Room Highlights: Thoughtfully designed rooms with picturesque mountain or garden views, en-suite bathrooms, traditional Japanese aesthetics, and complimentary Wi-Fi for all your entertainment needs.
Overall Impression: Hotel Okada Hakone creates a warm and inviting sanctuary that’s perfectly tailored for families seeking relaxation and the joy of shared experiences, including the opportunity to enjoy onsen together. Nestled in the breathtaking landscapes of Hakone, this ryokan guarantees a serene and memorable escape for the whole family, making it the ultimate choice for families looking to create cherished moments amidst tranquility.
Summing it Up
Amidst the captivating landscapes of Hakone, a plethora of exceptional ryokans await, providing an unparalleled opportunity to immerse yourself in the heart of Japanese heritage and hospitality. Whether you’re venturing with family, seeking a romantic interlude, managing your budget, or craving lavish indulgence, these Hakone ryokans offer bespoke experiences tailored to your desires. Hakone’s ryokans invite you to step into the tapestry of Japan’s cultural legacy, enabling you to weave enduring memories that will echo through time. May your journey in Hakone be filled with enchanting explorations and unforgettable moments!
Frequently Asked Questions about Ryokan Stays
- What is the check-in and check-out time at a ryokan? Check-in time at most ryokans is typically in the late afternoon, around 3:00 PM to 4:00 PM. Check-out is usually in the morning, around 10:00 AM. However, these timings can vary, so it’s best to confirm with the ryokan before your arrival.
- What should I wear during my stay at a ryokan? Ryokans often provide guests with yukata, which are lightweight cotton robes to wear during their stay. You can wear the yukata around the ryokan, including during meals and while relaxing in the communal areas.
- Do ryokans have private bathrooms in the guest rooms? It depends on the ryokan. Some ryokans offer guest rooms with ensuite bathrooms, while others may have shared bathrooms. If having a private bathroom is essential to you, make sure to check the room amenities before booking.
- What is a kaiseki meal, and is it included in the stay? Kaiseki is a traditional multi-course Japanese meal that is meticulously prepared and beautifully presented. Many ryokans include a kaiseki dinner and breakfast as part of the stay. However, it’s essential to confirm the dining arrangements and if any dietary preferences or restrictions can be accommodated.
- Are ryokans family-friendly? Not all ryokans are family-friendly, as some may have age restrictions or limited facilities for children. If you’re traveling with family, look for ryokans that explicitly welcome families and can provide appropriate accommodations.
- Are tattoos allowed in ryokans with onsen facilities? Some ryokans have restrictions on tattoos in their onsen facilities due to cultural reasons. Tattoos are associated with yakuza (organized crime) in Japan. While some ryokans may allow guests with tattoos to use private onsen, others may not have any restrictions. It’s best to inquire about their policy beforehand.
- Do I need to know Japanese to stay at a ryokan? While knowing Japanese can be helpful, many ryokans in popular tourist areas have staff who can communicate in English or other languages. However, it’s a good idea to learn a few basic Japanese phrases or use translation apps to enhance your communication.
- Are there any specific etiquette rules I should be aware of during my ryokan stay? Yes, there are some etiquette rules to observe during your ryokan stay, such as removing shoes when entering the room, being punctual for meals, and using appropriate greetings and gestures. Your host will appreciate any effort you make to respect Japanese customs. For more information, check out 10 things you should NOT do when visiting Japan.
- What payment methods do ryokans accept? Ryokans usually accept major credit cards. However, it’s always a good idea to confirm payment methods in advance to avoid any inconvenience.
- How far in advance should I book a ryokan? Popular ryokans in peak tourist seasons can get booked quickly, so it’s advisable to book well in advance, especially for well-known ryokans or during busy travel periods. Booking a few months ahead is recommended.