Hoshinoya Fuji
Photo: Hoshinoya FujiHoshinoya Fuji

7 of the most beautiful hotels and resorts in Japan

From historical Kyoto to snowy Niseko, these cool hotels, resorts and ryokan will have you dreaming of a holiday in Japan

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Written by
Emma Steen
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Travel accommodation, for some, is merely a convenient location to sleep and store their belongings while they’re off on grand adventures. For others, the hotel they choose to stay in is a part of the journey itself, a place to relax and experience the mood of the local area, free from the everyday stresses of life. 

If you’re looking for a place to stay that’s a destination in itself, Japan has you covered. From sleek modern mountain escapes to traditional ryokan with natural hot springs, these Japanese resorts, hotels and ryokan are so stunning they might just be the highlight of your next trip.

RECOMMENDED: See the most beautiful destinations in Japan

Note: the room rates listed are rough estimates and may differ according to season and occupany

Japan’s most beautiful hotels

These geometric cabins boast a view that few of Japan’s finest hotels can offer: a clear and unobstructed panorama of Japan’s most sacred mountain. Tucked in the pine-covered mountains of Lake Kawaguchiko in Yamanashi prefecture, Hoshinoya Fuji takes glamping up several notches, providing guests with the ultimate digital detox. 

Mealtimes come with a choice between a picnic basket on your private balcony overlooking Mt Fuji, an outdoor wood-fired pizza workshop or a feast of local game including wild boar and venison. When you’re not luxuriating in a hammock, you can explore the scenic mountains, book guided hikes, enjoy early-morning canoeing on the nearby Lake Kawaguchi or get in the saddle and go horse riding along the lake shore. The secluded rural area is also a fantastic spot for stargazing.

Packages start from  ¥31,437 per person per night

Peaceful, secluded and elegant, this exclusive ryokan in Hokkaido is a seamless combination of old and new. Modern architectural styles are accentuated with themes of wabi sabi where sleek wooden tables are adorned with traditional Japanese artwork. A highlight of Zaborin ryokan is its onsen baths, which are filled with naturally sourced volcanic spring water. Each room  has its own outdoor bath, so you can enjoy the classic onsen experience in peace. Zaborin’s restaurant, headed by award-winning chef Yoshihiro Seno, specialises in kaiseki cuisine using locally sourced ingredients. 

Packages start from ¥57,000 per person

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  • Hotels
  • Boutique hotels
  • Hakone

An idyllic place for booklovers, Hakone Honbako instills the kind of peaceful, uninterrupted bliss that you get when perusing your favourite bookstore. The hotel is warm and cosy, but that doesn’t mean it’s lacking in space. The main lobby is a grand, double-height library with small nooks for reading built into the shelves themselves. There are roughly 12,000 books in the hotel, many of which can also be found in the guest rooms. To help curate the collection, Hakone Honbako collaborated with a group of prominent Japanese photographers, architects, novelists and even chefs and the library features some of their personal favourite reads. 

While you could spend all day lounging on the hotel’s pillowy duvets pouring over a good book, the hotel also boasts a few other amenities to add some variety to your stay.There’s a cushy cinema, where a different selection of films from the Short Shorts Film Festival is screened every month, as well as outdoor baths made of hinoki for a leisurely dip with a mountain view. 

Packages start from ¥33,218

Art lovers who make the pilgrimage to the art island of Naoshima often make a point of staying at Benesse House, a hotel that is an art installation in its own right. The hotel was constructed in 1992, and was designed by famed architect Tadao Ando. The hotel is just a 10-minute walk from Naoshima’s iconic Yellow Pumpkin made by Yayoi Kusama, but every aspect of the complex gives guests the opportunity to experience art and design up close. From the furniture to the sea views, everything here is like a work of art. After a long day of exploring the island on foot , consider taking part in the hotel’s Cultural Melting Bath ritual, held every Sunday, where you can have a soak in a traditional Japanese bath in a serene garden overlooking the sea. 

Packages from ¥42,000

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  • Hotels
  • Meguro

Gajoen, one of Japan’s most ornate and elaborately decorated hotels, is located in the heart of Tokyo. With lavish restaurants, a Japanese garden featuring a koi-filled pond and frequent exhibitions, it's not uncommon for Hotel Gajoen to be visited by Tokyo art lovers who don’t have plans to stay the night. Ever since its completion in 1931, when Tokyo was recovering from a devastating earthquake, the hotel has been both a beacon of hope and a byword for opulence. 

With so many pieces of 20th century Japanese art on display, it can be a challenge to take it all in at once, so it’s lucky the hotel offers guests free guided tours allowing  you to see the most treasured pieces and learn about them in depth. 

Packages start from ¥42,000

Built in 1936, Kanaguya is a long-standing traditional ryokan in Shibu Onsen, a mountain town with a rich hot spring history. Its unique red-walled interior is similar to the fictional bathhouse from the Studio Ghibli film ‘Spirited Away’, meaning it attracts many Miyazaki fans. Kanaguya features eight baths in total, five of which are private ones you can book. The three communal baths consist of the Ryurui open-air bath, a Roman bath with stained glass windows and the cloudy white Kamakura bath, which combines the natural hot spring water from Shibu Onsen and Jigokudani Araigawara. 

Packages start from ¥25,000

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Though technically a hotel on a boat, Guntû in Setouchi is anything but your average cruise. The 81-metre ship only carries a small group of passengers in its spacious, minimalist cabins designed by architect Yasushi Horibe. The cabins feature private hinoki baths overlooking the sea and the ship also offers a number of traditional Japanese-style luxuries including a sushi counter and a tearoom featuring special wagashi (Japanese sweets). 

Cruises follow one of ten different routes on the temperate Seto Inland Sea,ranging between two and four days. Take a route eastbound to visit the island of Shodoshima, tour public art installations and visit a traditional brewery, or voyage west to tour the fishing island of Iwashima and see Miyajima's stunning floating torii gate. 

Two-day voyages start from ¥250,000 per person

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