It’s unsurprising that Japan’s most luxurious ryokan is a former retreat of an erstwhile emperor
Fishing | Golf | History & culture | Natural world | Relaxation
It’s difficult to imagine that such peaceful respite exists just outside Tokyo’s sprawl. National park Hakone, with its famed hot spring onsen, shimmering tree-fringed lakes, botanical gardens, imperial palaces and waterside shrines are the picturesque foreground to Mt. Fuji’s iconic white peak. Explore it between museum visits and hikes or make use of the nearby 18-hole golf course before relaxing with that modern-day Japanese obsession, fishing.
This is Relais and Châteaux at its authentic best. Traditional living rooms feature timber tatami floors, bathrooms come with soaking onsen inspired tubs and bedrooms are a plush, futon affair. Geta sandals are a must. However, the immaculately presented gardens – one per room – steal the show with their perfectly trimmed foliage and stone landscaping. Suites, looking out onto the mountains, deliver open-air stone baths, steam saunas, Jacuzzis and wooden terrace decks. For all its ascetic minimalism, this is a truly luxury stay.
While you might have tried Japanese kaiseki – a multi-course degustation tradition – before, it’s guaranteed that you won’t have experienced it like this. Impeccably prepared plates balance not only taste but texture, appearance and colours, using only the freshest, seasonal ingredients. It’s all served in your own room in accordance with the strict omotenashi principles of Japanese hospitality. Rooms are half-board meaning your kaiseki dinner and breakfast is included in the nightly tariff.
Follow in the century-old wet footsteps of Tokyo’s elite into the mineral-rich hot spring waters of the ryokan’s baths, heated by the region’s volcanic rocks. For waters more modern, a half indoor pool and Jacuzzi are equally delightful. Finally, push back the rice paper walls of the massage rooms for a traditional Japenese treatment as you gaze out over the verdant grounds onto the surrounding mountains. A kimono is optional.
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