Japan is home to some of the world’s most spectacular properties, ranging from unbelievably charming boutique ryokans (traditional inns), to ultra-luxurious hotels, these are the best places to stay in Japan
1. Park Hyatt Tokyo
Park Hyatt is one of Tokyo’s original luxury hotels, whose frills cascade from the grandeur of the lobby to each of the en suites’ Aesop amenities. Impeccably attentive staff and views of Mount Fuji add extra pizazz. Thought you recognised the hotel? Scarlett Johanssen and Bill Murray graced the hotel when filming Lost in Translation.
2. Hoshinoya Karuizawa
A bullet train ride from Tokyo or Kyoto will bring you to Nagano Prefecture, which is home to the impressive Hoshinoya Karuizawa. This amazing resort puts you close to outdoor recreation opportunities like hiking to waterfalls or visiting volcanoes, but many guests are happy to spend their time relaxing in the hotel itself. The Hoshinoya Karuizawa is a resort complete with spas and hot springs, with rooms that are perched above the water and even heated with geothermal energy. Spacious rooms maximize the natural setting, creating a spa atmosphere that melds beautifully with the great outdoors.
3. Henn na Hotel, Tokyo Bay
For the ultimate futuristic Japanese hotel experience, you need to head to Henn na Hotel, which is part-run by robots. Robotic multilingual dinosaurs man the check-in desk, an automatic trolley delivers your luggage to your room, and each room comes complete with its own robot, Churi, who will help you with whatever you need. Things don’t always run smoothly and you may find yourself calling on one of the hotel’s human staff for help, but the concept is a fun novelty. The hotel is next to the theme park Huis Ten Bosch near Nagasaki, so it’s a fun place to combine with your visit there.
4. The Ritz-Carlton, Osaka
Osaka is the gateway to western Japan, blending centuries-old history with modern architecture, nightlife and delicious street food. The Ritz-Carlton, Osaka is a stunning five-star hotel that combines the elegance of an English manor house with the subtle beauty of Japanese detail. This is definitely one of the very best luxury hotels in Japan.
Lying within Japan’s Water Capital, the hotel’s redesigned accommodations infuse urban design with 18th-century British style, while the dining experience spans the globe and includes the Michelin-starred French restaurant: La Baie and Tempura by Hanagatami.
5. BnA Koenji, Hotel, Tokyo
The B and A in BnA Hotel’s name stands for Bed and Art, the two foundations on which this hotel was founded. Size-wise, the hotel is humble – it has just two rooms – but the concept is big. The hotel enlisted the help of the city’s most exciting contemporary artists and commissioned them to paint the bedrooms however they saw fit. Founded as a way to help fund the Tokyo art scene, every time a room is booked, the artists responsible for the design receive a percentage of the booking cost, thus providing funding for their creative pursuits. The BnA group also have another hotel in Akihabara, which is a worthy choice for those who want to be right in the heart of the gamer geek action.
6. Shangri-La Hotel
A relative newcomer to the luxury hotel scene in Tokyo, the trendy Shangri-La boasts more than 2,000 pieces of original art. A blend of traditional flash (massive chandeliers and Swarovski crystal-encrusted tapestries) and contemporary cool (slick restaurant interiors designed by Hong-Kong-based designer Andre Fu, exquisite blossoms by hip Danish florist Nicolai Bergmann) gives the Shangri-La a unique feel. Rooms are spacious and comfortable, with luxurious touches such as fluffy feather duvets and L’Occitane toiletries. The hotel’s complimentary meet-and- greet pickup service from adjacent Tokyo station is a huge plus.
7. Suiran, A Luxury Collection Hotel, Kyoto
Set along the peaceful Hozu River, an authentic Japanese-style experience awaits at Suiran, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Kyoto. A harmonious blend of relaxing heaven and the modern conveniences of a vibrant city, the hotel is perfectly poised to offer access to some of Japan’s most important national treasures. With an intimate collection of 39 guestrooms, including 6 specialty rooms, this retreat is inspired by traditional Japanese touches and culture offering a truly enriching and indigenous experience. Guest rooms are decorated with tasteful Kyoto design furnishing, and some rooms are equipped with open-air bath with natural Arashiyama spa water. For a locally inspired meal, the restaurant and comfortable café offer a variety of gourmet options.
8. Asaba, Shuzenji, Shizuoka Prefecture, Japan
Serene lakeside onsen bathing, lush gardens, seasonal cuisine and zen guestrooms: Asaba is one of Japan’s finest traditional ryokan inns. The 15th-century family-run inn is defined by its timelessly minimal décor, impeccable service and intimate atmosphere.
9. Aman Tokyo
A minimalist’s dream, Aman Tokyo is truly a stunning property. Featuring an unbelievably spacious lobby with sweeping views over the Imperial Palace and the Tokyo metropolis, Aman’s rooms are also extremely spacious, with roomy suites and the largest entry-level rooms in the city.
10. The Celestine Kyoto Gion, Kyoto
A delicate balance of time-honoured and contemporary Japanese design features occupies the interior of The Celestine Kyoto Gion. Peppered with conscientious details such as gift-wrapped cloths and yukata robes, the hotel exudes unassuming luxury. Guests are even presented with (incredibly) Handy mobile phones, so the complications of data roaming will not prevail.
11. Hilton Tokyo Odaiba
If you’ve stayed in one Hilton you’ve stayed in them all, right? Wrong. You could not be more wrong, especially when it comes to Hiltons in Japan. Located on the waterfront area of Tokyo Bay, this particular branch boasts spectacular 180-degree ocean views.
And whatever room you pick, you’ll get stunning views of either the city’s skyline (always spectacular), Rainbow Bridge or Tokyo Tower from your balcony. Some rooms also feature their very own private rooftop hot tub.
12. The Windsor Hotel Toya
On the Japanese island of Hokkaido, you’ll find the Windsor Hotel Toya Resort and Spa. At the Windsor Hotel Toya, you can choose from traditional minimalist rooms with tatami mats or upgraded western beds, all of which offer amenities like wifi access, personal fridges and flat-screen televisions. The spa facilities are the main attraction, featuring a bathhouse, an indoor pool and a hot tub, but there is also a scenic golf course on the property. Guests will also be mere minutes from the enticing Toyako Hot Spring.
13. Book and Bed, Hotel, Tokyo
Any avid reader will agree that there’s something inherently comforting about curling up surrounded by piles of dog-eared paperbacks and study hardbacks filled with pages ready to transport you to a whole new world. The team at Book and Bed know this love of comforting books all too well, so they decided to make an entire hostel dedicated to it. Book and Bed is a library-bookshop-hotel hybrid where guests are invited to crawl between their endless shelves of much-loved novels and drift off into a literary slumber. Positioned just a four-minute walk from Ikebukuro station, it provides easy access to the rest of Tokyo – if you manage to drag yourself out of bed, that is.
14. Mume Boutique Hotel
Located on a quiet street in Kyoto’s famed geisha-spotting Gion district, the small but beautiful Mume hotel is one of the city’s best-kept secrets. This stylish boutique hotel weaves exotic textiles and antiques from all over the world into its modern Asian interior.
15. Hiiragiya Ryokan
Ryokan is a traditional inn where guests can experience Japanese hospitality at its best. Built in 1818, the elegant Hiiragiya Ryokan in Kyoto is a veritable institution. Each of the 28 rooms in the 2-story wooden building is beautifully appointed with antiques and carefully chosen objet d’art. Most offer views of the immaculately manicured main garden and are outfitted with deep cypress-wood baths. Extravagant kaiseki dinners, presented on handcrafted ceramics and lacquer ware, are served in your room by the kimono-clad staff.
16. Sankara Hotel & Spa Yakushima, Yakushima
On the idyllic Unesco World Heritage Site of Yakushima island, Sankara Hotel & Spa Yakushima is perfectly placed for nature lovers. Here nature is a theme that permeates hotel, with locally grown botanicals and Thai herbal treatments being used in the spa. The hotel’s finer dining provides a French-Japanese fusion cuisine, which is prepared for guests in a sleek open kitchen.
17. Sanyo-so Prince Hotel
The Hoshinoya Tokyo might have luxury ryokans covered, but Sanyo-so offers the very best (and finest) of old-school Japanese-style accommodation. Found near the quiet mountainside of Izu Nagaoka, which has functioned as a hot spring resort since the Kamakura Era (1185 – 1333), you really can’t get more traditional than this.
18. Gate Hotel Asakusa Kaminarimon
A brief walk from the Asakusa Train Station is the upscale Gate Hotel Asakusa Kaminarimon, one of the most popular contemporary hotels in Tokyo. The convenient location makes it easy to travel via train around the city, but you can also walk right to attractions like the Senso-ji Temple or the Hanayashiki Theme Park. The rooms are comfortable and modern, and guests will have access to hotel amenities like in-room massage therapy, a French restaurant and an open-air terrace exclusively available for guests to enjoy, which happens to be an amazing place to soak in city views.
19. Keio Plaza Hotel, Tokyo
At first glance, the Keio Plaza Hotel doesn’t look like it should be on this list, but hidden beneath the classy 4-star hotel sheen is a collection of Hello Kitty-themed rooms, which feature an extravaganza of Hello Kitty paraphernalia. Fans of the kitsch anime cat will love it. There’s also a rooftop pool on the 7th floor and a karaoke parlour on the 47th floor. And because the hotel is so tall, there are some fabulous views across the city from most of the rooms.
20. Four Seasons Kyoto
Kyoto remains one of Japan’s best-preserved historic cities, with intact palaces, gardens, 1,600 Buddhist temples, 400 Shinto shrines and an incredible 17 World Heritage Sites.
Nestled in a 12th-century, Shakusuien ikeniwa (pond garden), just minutes from downtown and surrounded by centuries of history, is a modern oasis of serenity and style, the Four Seasons Hotel Kyoto.