From hotel chains to luxury accommodation and traditional house stays, Japan has it all.
Set on the Hozu River, Suiran Koyoto is an authentic Japanese-style luxury hotel combining relaxation with modern convenience. It’s perfectly positioned to enjoy some of Japan’s most interesting sights. It’s intimate with only 39 guestrooms, each designed with Kyoto in mind. Some rooms even include an open-air bath.
Aman Tokyo occupies the top six floors of the Otemachi Tower and it really feels like a sanctuary in the sky. Drawing inspiration from traditional Japanese structures, the hotel uses timber, Washi paper and stone to blend modern and luxury feels. Each room or suite is uniquely laid out with magnificent city views and includes a large furo (a deep tub for traditional Japanese bathing). There’s also an inner garden to enjoy, bringing tranquillity to the centre of Tokyo.
Founded in 1928 in the spa town of Yamashiro, Beniya Mukayu is elegantly designed and emphasises the importance of light, shade and neutral colours. Each room has a private open-air bath with views over the authentic Japanese garden. There are traditional tea ceremonies performed and yoga is available every morning, plus, of course, the on-site spa.
For something a bit different, the Hoshinoya Fuji is a luxury glamping experience set in the forested mountainside. The luxury accommodation is set on the shores of Kawaguchi Lake at the base of Mount Fuji and is made up of small cabins scattered along the mountain.
Top Hotel Chains
Of course, being a first world country, the top hotel chains have found their way to the major Japanese cities. Hotels such as the Four Seasons, the Ritz Carlton in Kyoto and the Shangri-La all have a presence in Tokyo as well as Kyoto. There’s also the Park Hyatt, the St Regis in Osaka, The Hilton in Tokyo and the Hyatt Regency in Gora. Any choice you make with the major hotel chains will be a good one.
Ryokan, Minshuku and other Traditional Stays
For something a bit more cultural, there are an abundance of ryokans and minshukus around Japan. Both offer authentic traditional stays, however, there is a difference between the two types of accommodation. Ryokan evokes the Japan of yesteryear, often located in nature and near hot springs, the buildings are made of wood and bamboo with tatami flooring and rice paper partitions. Guests are greeted by the mistress of the place dressed in a kimono and outdoor shoes are replaced with slippers before entering. Meals are served in the room, often on a low table.
Minshuku are traditional guest houses or bed and breakfasts. They are usually farms or fishermen’s houses and can be found in quite remote locations. There is often a shared bathroom and meals are usually enjoyed together.
Kanamean Nishitomiya is an elegant ryokan inn with contemporary touches. It is family run and even includes a Michelin-starred restaurant. The central location in Kyoto makes it the perfect place to base yourself to explore the city and surrounds.
One of Tokyo’s most charming inns, Ryokan Sawanoya is located in the Yanaka district and is traditionally family-owned. The hotel dates back to 1949 and really feels like you’re staying in a private Japanese house.
For something a bit different, Book and Bed in Tokyo is based on the simple concept of ‘books’. It’s a hipster heaven with a wall of bookcases and 12 openings that lead to ‘bookshelf beds’ where guests sleep. It’s exceptionally cosy so definitely not for the claustrophobic.
Read our guide to everything to know about ryokans in Japan before you book.