Hakone is one of the most beautiful places you can go to unwind in Japan. It takes a little less than 2 hours from Shinjuku Station to get to Hakone-Yumoto Station. It’s an extremely popular place to take a day trip from Tokyo as it provides beautiful views of Mt. Fuji on a crisp clear day. Known for its Japanese hot springs, or onsens, Hakone is full of charm. We decided to spend a night in Hakone to unwind after many days of walking around Tokyo and Kyoto.
We stayed at Hakone Suimeisou, a beautiful Japanese style hotel (ryokan) with breathtaking views of the Hayakawa river and mountains. The ryokan offers public and private onsens, and Japanese kaiseki breakfast and dinners for an extra charge. We decided to go all out and booked ourselves a room with our own private outdoor bathtub as well as the dining experience. This was the priciest accommodation we spent on during our entire Japan trip, but it was well worth it. After all, if you’re going to be traveling, why not treat yourself for at least a day?
Note: Hakone is rather quiet at night as most shops close after 6pm. It’s really a place to relax and enjoy your stay so if that’s not what you’re after, I would suggest a day-trip instead of spending a night. Your call!
The ryokan is about a five-minute walk from the Hakone-Yumato station and super convenient. We arrived early and dropped our luggage off at the front desk. From Hakone Suimeisou, we walked through Shotengai, a charming shop alley with udon shops and trinket stores. I forget the name of the jewelry store I went to, but I picked up some amazing pieces of crystal necklaces and bracelets for a good price. It’s on the left hand side of the Shotengai if you’re facing south.
Every room in Hakone Suimeisou offers incredible views of the Haya river. You may choose between a traditional Japanese-style room or a Western room. We opted for the Western room as sleeping on tatami mats didn’t really appeal to us. Our room came with an open-air bath on the balcony which I highly recommend when booking your stay. The open-air bath sits on a balcony where you can run your bath, unwind, and look out at the Hakone mountains.
It’s no secret that when it comes to hospitality, Japan has it figured out. Upon check-in, you are greeted by a hostess who will be taking care of you during the entire stay. Our hostess took us to our room, showed us around, and poured us fresh, hot green tea. She spoke little English, but was incredibly kind. She also knocked on our door when it was time for breakfast or dinner, which she set up all by herself. Which leads me to my next topic…
The kaiseki dining at Hakone Suimeisou is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. If you book a Western-style room, your hostess will bring you to a private dining area which is across from your room. Upon entering, you’re greeted with a table of so many different plates already set up for you.
The food offered at Hakone Suimeisou is based on seasonality. Since Hakone is a relatively colder place, they offer a lot of soups, tofu, and small fish. There was an overwhelmingly huge amount of food and you’ll honestly not be able to finish all of it. A couple of food items were also not that tasty, but the overall experience is one not to be missed.
You can’t leave Hakone without relaxing in an onsen. Hakone Suimeisou offers public onsens, as well as 4 private onsen options for an extra charge. The public onsens are split up by gender, but my boyfriend wasn’t too keen on being in a hot bath with other naked men so we reserved a private onsen for an hour the next day before check-out. Let me tell you, RESERVE A PRIVATE ONSEN — IT’S MORE THAN WORTH IT.
As if our view from our room’s open-air bath wasn’t amazing enough, the private onsens are situated on the highest floor of the ryokan. With an open shower and a heated bath already prepped for you, my boyfriend and I relaxed until we were ready to check-out and head back to Tokyo well-rested.