Since most of the area’s activity centres on the hotels, it’s hardly surprising that there are few independent restaurants worth seeking out – though the village of Sengokuhara has more options than most. For the truly hungry, there are snack bars serving curry, noodles and the like at Owakudani and Togendai stations, and on the lake at Hakone-Machi. The Bella Foresta restaurant in the Open-Air Museum serves a decent buffet lunch for ¥1,680, while all the large hotels have at least four restaurants that are open to non-guests. At the Pola Museum, there’s a café serving snacks and drinks (10am-4.30pm daily) and an upmarket French-style restaurant (11am-4pm daily).
There are hundreds of places to stay in Hakone, ranging from cheap ryokan to top-class hotels. Most have their own hot springs. Many have higher rates at weekends, peaking during New Year and Golden Week in May. If you intend to use Hakone-Yumoto as a base, cheap options include the Kappa Tengoku: a double room here costs from ¥6,600 per night on weekdays, although its proximity to the railway tracks might mean an earlier awakening than you’d bargained for.
Up in the mountains, the Fujiya Hotel (359 Miyanoshita, 0460 82 2211, www.fujiyahotel.co.jp, ¥19,830-¥41,880 double) dates back to 1878 and oozes history – a feature that plays better in the lobby and gardens than in the rooms. In Sengokuhara, the small ryokan Fuji-Hakone Guest House (912 Sengokuhara, 0460 84 6577, www.fujihakone.com, ¥11,850-¥12,900 double) is a good budget choice. The friendly proprietor, Takahashi Masami, speaks English and is happy to offer sightseeing advice. You can get to the inn by bus direct from Odawara or Hakone-Yumoto stations; alight at the Senkyoro-mae bus stop. Sister outfit Moto-Hakone Guest House (0460 83 7880, same website, ¥11,550 double) is on the other side of Lake Ashinoko.
Overlooking the lake is the Palace Hotel (1245 Sengokuhara, Hakone-Machi, 0460 84 8501, www.hakone.palacehotel.co.jp), where doubles start at ¥18,300 in low season. For absolute luxury, there’s the Hyatt Regency Hakone (www.hakone.regency.hyatt.com), where the Mountain View twin rooms (¥23,000-¥45,000) are enormous, as are the scenic terraces. But nothing can rival the ten-room Kinnotake boutique hotel (0460 84 3939, www.kinnotake.com), whose rooms come with a private hot spring and a contemporary Japanese-style interior of the kind that design fans dream about (¥36,000-¥54,000 per person).
Hakone-Yumoto Tourist Information Kankou Bussankan, 698 Yumoto, Hakone-machi, Ashigara-Shimogun (0460 85 8911). Open 9am-5pm daily. Odakyu Sightseeing Service Centre Ground-floor concourse near west exit, Odakyu Shinjuku station (5321 7887, www.odakyu.jp/ english/center). Open 8am-6pm daily. The Odakyu train line’s information counter inside the station is aimed at foreign visitors (staff speak English). You can buy the Hakone Free Pass here and make hotel reservations. Odawara Tourist Information 1-1-9 Sakae-machi, Odawara-shi (0465 22 2339). Odawara station, in front of the ticket gate. Open 9am-5pm daily.