Must-see hotels in Japan

  • Tsuru-no-yu Onsen

    Northern Honshū (Tōhoku)

    The jewel of Nyūtō, Tsuru-no-yu is the epitome of the Japanese ryokan: discreet, atmospheric and sumptuous. At every turn there's another picture-perfect…

  • Tawaraya

    Downtown Kyoto

    Operating for more than three centuries, Tawaraya is one of the finest places to stay in Japan. From the decor to the service to the food, everything is…

  • Hoshinoya Tokyo

    Tokyo

    In creating this contemporary ryokan in the heart of Tokyo, Hoshinoya has barely put a foot wrong, overcoming a location boxed in by office towers…

  • K's House Itō Onsen

    Izu Peninsula

    Hugely popular with travellers, this 100-year-old riverside ryokan is an architectural treasure and an absolute steal. Japanese-style private rooms simply…

  • Nishimuraya Honkan

    Kansai

    Running for seven generations, this is a fantastic ryokan for a splurge. It excels at everything: beautiful rooms arranged around a central garden; onsen…

  • Hiiragiya Ryokan

    Downtown Kyoto

    This elegant ryokan has long been favoured by celebrities from around the world. Facilities and services are excellent and the location is hard to beat…

  • Yōyōkaku

    Kyūshū

    In a word: gorgeous. Also: rambling and minimalist, with 100-year-old woodwork, a pine garden and Karatsu-yaki pottery for your in-room seafood meals. Koi…

  • Aman Tokyo

    Tokyo

    Overlooking the Imperial Palace from atop Ōtemachi Tower, this outstanding hotel incorporates natural materials – including dark stone walls, blonde wood…

  • Kamoshika Views

    Matsumoto & the Northern Japan Alps

    Russ the Kiwi has everything covered in Donguri, high above Hakuba. The dorm rooms are tight, but communal lounge, kitchen and party rooms make this a top…

  • Benesse House

    Naoshima

    A stay at this unique Ando-designed hotel-museum is a treat for art and architecture enthusiasts. Accommodation is in four different wings – Museum, Oval,…

  • Kaiyu Inn

    Shikoku

    Fluent English-speaking owner Mitsu has redesigned a concrete 1960s edifice, originally built by his father, into an intriguing contemporary retreat. Each…

  • Nakabusa Onsen

    Matsumoto & the Northern Japan Alps

    This rambling resort with indoor and outdoor onsen at the end of a twisting valley road to nowhere will delight anyone seeking a peaceful retreat. The…

  • Hostel 64 Osaka

    Osaka

    Osaka's most stylish hostel is inside a 1960s office building suitably kitted out with vintage furniture. There are Japanese- and Western-style private…

  • SappoLodge

    Sapporo

    A little slice of mountain life a stone's throw from Susukino – you can use the climbing wall to get to the 2nd-floor dorms instead of the stairs –…

  • Andon Ryokan

    Asakusa & Sumida River

    About 2km north of Asakusa, the contemporary Andon Ryokan is fabulously designed in form and function. It has 20 tiny but immaculate tatami rooms,…

  • Westin Miyako Kyoto

    Northern Higashiyama

    Overlooking the Higashiyama sightseeing district (meaning it’s one of the best locations for sightseeing in Kyoto), this grande dame of Kyoto hotels…

  • Guesthouse Tenmaku

    Hakone

    The centrepiece of this impeccably designed hostel is the irori (sunken hearth) in the bar-lounge, around which communal feasts of grilled fish, rice and…

  • Four Seasons

    Southern Higashiyama

    Extravagant and contemporary yet restrained and traditional, Four Seasons is an impressive new luxury hotel in the Higashiyama sightseeing district. The…

  • Chiiori

    Shikoku

    Chiiori is a once-abandoned, 18th-century, thatched-roof farmhouse that has been painstakingly restored towards its original brilliance. Glistening red…

  • Hitsuki Guesthouse

    Fuji Five Lakes

    Just about the only remaining Fuji oshi-no-ie (pilgrims' inn) you can still stay in. The young owner is both a carpenter (hence the lovingly restored 440…

  • With the Style

    Fukuoka

    It's anyone's guess what the name means, but 'style' is indeed the byword at this sleek designer hotel. You could easily imagine yourself poolside in…

  • Takaragawa Onsen Ōsenkaku

    Central Honshū

    They hardly come more traditional than this inn split over three buildings, the oldest of which is the riverside 1936 No 1 Annexe. Guests have 24-hour use…

  • Hyatt Regency Kyoto

    Southern Higashiyama

    Arguably one of Kyoto's best hotels, the Hyatt Regency sits at the southern end of the Southern Higashiyama sightseeing district. Elegant and contemporary…

  • Miyamaso Takamiya

    Northern Honshū (Tōhoku)

    Takamiya is an atmospheric, upmarket ryokan that has been in business for nearly three centuries. There are several beautiful indoor and outdoor baths,…

  • Guesthouse Nara Backpackers

    Nara

    An utterly charming stay in a traditional 1920s building, which was once a tea master's home. Choose from bunk-bed dorms or five different-size private…

  • Hotel Anteroom

    Kyoto Station & South Kyoto

    If you're looking for traditional Japanese decor, Anteroom is not for you. This art-and-design hotel is as contemporary as it gets from its bright lobby…

  • Hanare

    Ueno & Yanesen

    A project of Tokyo University of the Arts, Hanare offers five immaculate tatami rooms in an old dormitory house, which has been tastefully upgraded to…

  • Saikan

    Northern Honshū (Tōhoku)

    Elegantly perched atop Haguro-san, and accessed by an imposing gate, Saikan is a destination for reflective, quiet travel. The main building is sparingly…

  • Wabizakura

    Northern Honshū (Tōhoku)

    Deep within the forest, surrounded by trees, this stunning ryokan is housed in a 200-year-old building that was carefully relocated from Iwate Prefecture…

  • Hattōji International Villa

    Western Honshū

    This restored farmhouse in the Okayama countryside offers four large tatami rooms, a shared bathroom and kitchen, and bicycles that are free to use. In…

  • Yarimikan

    Central Honshū

    Yarimikan is a wonderfully traditional onsen ryokan (hot-spring inn) on the Kamata-gawa, with two indoor baths, eight riverside rotemburo (outdoor baths;…

  • Hotel Cycle

    Hiroshima Region

    Hotel Cycle, within the large U2 complex right on the waterfront boardwalk, is aimed at both the cycling crowd and those with an eye for design. The dark,…

  • Hakusuikan

    Kyūshū

    Visiting dignitaries might stay in the sumptuous, 40-room Rikyū wing, but those of more modest means can splurge on the less expensive of Hakusuikan's 164…

  • Shōjōshin-in

    Kii Peninsula

    Among Kōya-san's most atmospheric temples, with a thatched roof and an old kitchen with exposed wooden beams, Shōjōshin-in is a wonderful choice for your…

  • Park Hyatt Tokyo

    Shinjuku & Northwest Tokyo

    This eyrie atop a Tange Kenzō–designed skyscraper in west Shinjuku looks no less tasteful and elegant than when it opened more than 20 years ago, and it…

  • That Sounds Good

    Northern Honshū (Tōhoku)

    Room options here range from quaint cottages with private bathrooms to split-level dwellings where you're just within snoring distance of your fellow…

  • Pension Uni

    Hokkaidō

    Up the hill from the port, this immaculately clean pension with a big 'U-ni-!' sign has Western-style twin rooms. Meals include local seafood; rates with…

  • Kamejikan Guesthouse

    Kamakura

    A three-minute walk to the beach, this lovely guesthouse occupies a restored wooden building that's almost a century old, with paper lampshades and a…

  • Sawanoya Ryokan

    Ueno & Yanesen

    Sawanoya is a gem in quiet Yanaka, run by a very friendly family and with all the traditional hospitality you would expect of a ryokan. The shared cypress…

  • Maisan-chi

    Fuji Five Lakes

    On a quiet backstreet, this excellent choice combines an old Japanese-style house (where guests have breakfast) and a new build behind it housing fabulous…

More destinations you need to see