[2021 Edition] 8 Luxury Accommodations in Kanto for a Serene Stay
Kanto is a region of Japan that developed around Tokyo, one of the world's leading metropolises. Aside from the dense cityscape of Tokyo, the Kanto region boasts numerous spots where one can dive deep into nature and stroll through famous sightseeing destinations. If you want to have fun outdoors, head to the mountains of Okutama in west Tokyo or venture to the high wetlands of Oze and hot spring districts in northern Kanto. If you’re into exploring popular tourist spots, hop on a train to the deeply historical Kamakura or Hakone in the neighboring Kanagawa Prefecture, southwest of Tokyo. In this article, we will feature 8 handpicked luxury accommodation facilities in Kanto where you can spend time with peace of mind, including holiday villas, hotels, and traditional Japanese ryokan inns.
Sep 29 2021 (Jun 07 2022)
When it comes to Tokyo (map), most people picture high-rise buildings and large shopping centers, however, its landscape is actually far more varied. The Tokyo area covers a very narrow yet wide strip of land going from east to west, with the western part boasting numerous mountains over 2,000 m tall and subtropical islands such as the Izu Islands and Ogasawara Islands (World Natural Heritage) in the Pacific Ocean.
The 1st picture above shows the famous Shibuya Scramble Crossing, while the 2nd is the equally famous Kaminarimon Gate of Senso-ji Temple in Asakusa. These two pictures perfectly showcase one of Tokyo's main charms: the beautiful mesh of the metropolitan and traditional. If you move away from the city center and explore the Okutama area (map) and other places on the west side of Tokyo, you can also discover gorgeous, untouched mountainous scenery. There's a lot to explore within Tokyo alone!
Tokyo is also the center of Japan's transportation network, whether it be domestic flights, the shinkansen (bullet train), or by car.
Palace Hotel Tokyo
While Tokyo is packed with plenty of international, top-class hotels, our pick from the bunch is the Palace Hotel Tokyo.
One of the biggest reasons behind our selection is due to the Palace Hotel Tokyo furnishing over half of its guest rooms with balconies. Its prime location right by the Imperial Palace means that you can enjoy great views of the lush Wadakura Fountain Park and sprawling office towers of Marunouchi. The vivid greenery blended together with Tokyo's unique neon nightscape is a sight out of this world! For an example of the balcony, check out the 2nd picture above of the Club Lounge (19F), which is a private space only available to those staying in the Club or Suite rooms.
There are six kinds of suites available, including the Executive Suite shown above in the 1st picture, as well as eight other kinds of rooms, including the Club Deluxe Twin/King with Balcony. Go all the way by staying in a room with a balcony or a suite room and thoroughly soak in Tokyo's grand nightscape!
For meals, you can choose between seven annexed restaurants. There's a wide variety to be enjoyed, from the Michelin 1-star French restaurant "Esterre" (3 private rooms) to "Wadakura," a Japanese restaurant with incredible seasonal courses (9 private rooms, Japanese or Western-style). Also worth checking out is "Tatsumi," a private counter-style restaurant with just six seats offering freshly fried tempura (pictured above).
From the lobby, you can admire the Imperial Palace moat and gorgeous surrounding maple trees. The hotel’s concept is to become "the hotel of beautiful Japan," and with its address being the exact same as the Imperial Palace's, it has truly achieved just that!
Stay at the Palace Hotel Tokyo to experience the best of Tokyo’s unique charm and hospitality!
Situated southwest of Tokyo, Kanagawa Prefecture (map) is home to the cities of Yokohama (population: approx. 3.8 mil) and Kawasaki (population: approx. 1.5 mil).
Yokohama is a city full of popular spots, such as Minato Mirai with its urban landscape and giant Ferris wheel; Yokohama Chinatown and its plethora of authentic Chinese restaurants; Tsurugaoka Hachiman-gu (1st picture above), a shrine with around 1,000 years of history; and Kamakura, home to temples like Meigetsu-in and Hase-dera famed for their incredible hydrangea scenery.
Kanagawa Prefecture is also where you'll find Hakone (2nd picture above, with Mt. Fuji in the distance), an area renowned for its onsen (hot spring) inns and art museums. Being easy to access from Tokyo, it is wildly popular with tourists.
Kamakura is a very popular day-trip destination amongst Kanto locals, offering an incredible variety of sightseeing spots. However, many tourists from abroad are unfortunately unable to fully explore all the ancient temples and other charms of Kamakura in a single day. That's why our recommended place to stay within Kanagawa Prefecture is Kamakura COCON, an inn with just two suite rooms in a renovated traditional Japanese home.
Both of the suite rooms are maisonettes. The above pictures are of the Cocon Maisonette Suite/Room 101.* The living room (1st picture above) and bathroom (3rd picture above) are on the 1st floor and the traditional Japanese-style room (2nd picture above) and bedroom are on the 2nd floor. Cocon ensures a pleasant stay encompassed by the homely atmosphere of a 160-year-old traditional Japanese home with a stunning and elegant modern interior.
*On Booking.com, it's called "Suite with Garden View."
The other suite room at Cocon is the Kura Maisonette Suite/Room 102,* which is housed inside a reformed "kura," a traditional warehouse for storing household goods and merchandise often with solid doors and walls covered in a white plaster called “shikkui” made from limestone, funori glue plant, and clay. The 1st floor entrance still uses the original doors of the kura (1st picture above) and is where you'll find the living room, Japanese-style room (2nd picture above), and bathroom. The bedroom (3rd picture above) is on the 2nd floor.
*On Booking.com, it's called "Suite."
Dinner is modern Italian made with seasonal local ingredients, including Kamakura vegetables and seafood caught from Sagami Bay. You'll be served at the open kitchen counter, allowing the opportunity to chat with the chef.
The elegance and charm of the traditional "kominka” (Japanese-style home) resonates all throughout Cocon, and with its location in Nikaido - a quiet residential area surrounded by history and greenery - it's truly the perfect getaway to savor and explore what Kamakura has to offer.
Fujiya Ryokan is our top hot spring inn recommendation for the popular Hakone area. This traditional inn was established all the way back in 1923 alongside the Fujiki River flowing through the nature-rich Yugawara neighborhood. Following the corridor from the original (old) building, you'll encounter the Rakumiso, an annex built in the 1950s, as well as other gems such as the newly renovated main building, a spacious Japanese garden, a giant bath filled with water direct from Yugawara Onsen, and more.
All the rooms within the old building and the Rakumiso come with Japanese cypress wood tubs filled with hot spring water, making them great options to relish some quiet alone time while soaking in the nourishing waters of Yugawara Onsen. The hot spring waters here are said to relieve nerve, muscle, and joint pain, as well as beautify the skin.
We strongly recommend staying in Fujiya Ryokan’s old building, which beautifully flaunts the techniques and artistry of the craftspeople who constructed it while teeming with 100 years of history and charm. Bask in the building’s grace, gaze at the lovely inner garden that changes with the seasons, and let your tired body and soul rest at this quiet slice of paradise.
We also recommend the guest rooms at the Rakumiso (1st picture above), which boasts a modern design combined with traditional Japanese elements (2nd picture above, they also have completely Japanese-style rooms). The rooms at Rakumiso also come with a private Japanese cypress wood bath with water from Yugawara Onsen, while the rooms in the new building either have a cypress wood bath or a shower.
Dinner is a traditional “kaiseki” multicourse meal altered every month and served in Hyoroku-tei, a restaurant within the inn's compounds. The dishes use all sorts of premium ingredients, from seafood taken from Sagami Bay, a prominent fishing area in southern Kanagawa, to local seasonal vegetables, Kuroge Wagyu beef, venison, and so on.
Gunma (map) is located north of Saitama and Tokyo and can be easily reached from Tokyo by shinkansen in just 1 hr and 20 mins. Flatlands occupy southern Gunma while mountains dot its western and northern regions, making the climate vary from area to area. The plains are characterized by scorching summers and winter days of a cold, strong, and dry wind called “karakkaze.” The mountains see a cool breeze in summer and heavy snowfall in winter due to the seasonal winds.
Gunma is home to plenty of popular and vast hot spring areas such as Kusatsu Onsen (1st picture above is of Kusatsu Onsen’s famous Yubatake), Ikaho Onsen, and Shima Onsen. It is also packed with spots to immerse yourself in Japan’s unique nature and culture, including the Tomioka Silk Mill, a World Heritage Site, and Oze (2nd picture above; the white flowers are Asian skunk cabbages), where an abundance of alpine plants grow wild amongst the bounties of nature.
Ikaho Onsen, one of Gunma’s leading hot spring areas alongside Kusatsu Onsen, was believed to have been opened more than 1,900 years ago. The town bursts with a retro, authentically traditional vision of Japan seen in sights like its iconic stone stairway (pictured above) that was built around 420 years ago.
Kaichoro is a long-established traditional inn boasting a roughly 400 year history (pictured above, built by the 14th generation owners around 1880). At the turn of the Heisei period (1989 - 2019), it underwent a complete makeover under the management of the 17th generation owners, transforming it into an exclusive inn with only eight rooms under the new name “Ryotei Kaichoro.”
Kaichoro has four types of rooms: Modern Japanese Suite (1st picture above), Japanese-Western Room with Twin Bed and Open-Air Garden Bath, Japanese Room with Open-Air Garden Bath + Stone-Paved Living Room and Tea Room, and Japanese Room with Open-Air Garden Bath (2nd picture above). Choose the one that suits your style!
The one thing that sets this inn apart is that all of its rooms have their own open-air bath filled with water from Ikaho Onsen’s famous “Shirogane no Yu.” Great for the body, you’ll be able to soak in a private bath while gazing at the gorgeous seasonal nature of Ikaho.
Dinner is a set of creative dishes based on traditional Japanese cuisine served in a private room at the exclusive Charyo tea ceremony room. The dishes are cooked using only the finest local and seasonal ingredients and reflect the heart and skill of the inn’s master chef.
You’ll be utterly captivated by the alluring and distinctive hot springs of Ikaho Onsen! Bask in nature, get cozy in absolute privacy, and savor the unique tastes of Gunma found only at Kaichoro! Here you can thoroughly soothe the stresses of everyday life, heal your tired body from traveling, and enjoy the sights and sounds of Ikaho and Gunma.
Keisetsu no Yado Syoubun
The Tone River, known as one of the major rivers in Japan, travels from Gunma’s north to its eastern and western areas before flowing into the Pacific Ocean in Choshi, Chiba. Nestled in a mountain village passing through Minakami Onsen, where the scenery of the upper reaches of the Tone River spread, is the hideaway hot spring inn Keisetsu no Yado Syoubun.
There are seven types of guest rooms at this inn, including the detached maisonette* (2nd picture above, showing the reclining chair corner on the 2nd floor), whereby the 1st floor houses the private open-air bath (1st picture above) and the living room, while the 2nd floor is the bedroom. There is also the INAKA Suite in the main building boasting an open-air bath and wooden deck, along with a detached guest room fixed with an open-air bath. Each room offers a different vibe, allowing you to find one that matches your preference.
*Children are not allowed to stay in the detached maisonette with an open-air bath and the detached guest room with an open-air bath.
One of the things that attracts guests to this inn is that, on top of the open-air bath in your room, you can use all three private baths free of charge. The bath shown in the above picture is Iwa no Yu (2), where you can unwind in a bath full of hot water from Mukoyama Onsen, also called Hoju no Yu, which is transparent and soft on the skin.
Aside from the baths, the main highlight of this inn would have to be the meals. Dinner is a selection of dishes that generously use ingredients from the mountains of Okutone and the Tone River, along with seasonal crops harvested from nearby fields. The dishes here flaunt a distinctively rich taste, defying the boundaries of Japanese cuisine yet safeguarding local traditions, something that is very unique to this inn. Guests will also appreciate that the meals are served in the private dining room Fukinoto.
Similar to Gunma, Tochigi (map) is found northeast of Saitama, which itself is located north of Tokyo. Only taking roughly 50 mins by shinkansen, Tochigi is actually far more accessible than Gunma from Tokyo.
Tochigi brims with spots to feel nature and encounter local history, including Nikko Toshogu Shrine (1st picture above), a World Heritage Site with a history spanning more than 400 years; Kinugawa Onsen, known for rows of hot spring inns along the valley of the Kinugawa River; the Nasu Kogen Highlands, which are popular as both a winter and summer resort; and the winding road of Irohazaka, which is so famous during fall that you can expect traffic jams.
The Ritz-Carlton, Nikko
Standing on the shores of Lake Chuzenji in Nikko, which is famous for spots like the aforementioned Nikko Toshogu Shrine, is the mega-popular luxury hotel The Ritz-Carlton, Nikko.
The Ritz-Carlton, Nikko makes clever use of the unique charms of Nikko, offering guests an expansive open-air bath (1st picture above) drawing water from the 1,200-year-old Nikko Yumoto Onsen, along with an indoor bath (2nd picture above). Take some time out during your exploration of Nikko to treat yourself to a soak in the highly potent hot spring water that turns cloudy when it comes in contact with air.
The view from The Ritz-Carlton, Nikko will also take your breath away. As suggested in its design concept of creating “harmony with the overwhelming natural beauty that lies deep in Nikko,” guests will be in for spectacular panoramas of Nikko’s pristine nature, including Lake Chuzenji (1st picture above, the lake on the left side of the hotel) and Mt. Nantai (2nd picture above, the mountain in front of the hotel). The encompassing natural beauty blends harmoniously with The Ritz-Carlton, Nikko’s sleek and modern design.
There are eight types of guest rooms, including The Ritz-Carlton Suite (1st and 2nd pictures above) with a panoramic view of the outside scenery, Lake Chuzenji View Suite, Lake Chuzenji View King, and Mount Nantai View King. Select your room according to the view you wish to see.
Dinner is a choice between Japanese and Western cuisine. If you choose to go Japanese, you can dine at “The Japanese Restaurant,” which presents a kaiseki multi-course menu incorporating carefully selected seasonal ingredients of Tochigi, along with Edomae-zushi courses showcasing the skill of the hotel’s sushi master, and teppanyaki (1st picture above) boasting steaks from Tochigi’s own Kuroge Wagyu beef raised and specially fed from calves. You can even opt for a private dining experience with a maximum of 10 people.
The Western dishes served at the Lakehouse likewise use fresh ingredients (2nd picture above), including vegetables harvested from the wilderness of Tochigi. The chefs painstakingly season and cook each dish while ensuring the best use of each ingredient.
Located east of Tokyo, Chiba Prefecture (map) can be easily accessed after just 30 mins by train from Tokyo Station to central Chiba City. Note, however, that Chiba Prefecture extends from north to south and it takes some time to get to the southern and eastern parts of the region. With virtually flat terrain, Chiba has no high mountains, a rarity in Japan. The mountains that are found in Chiba are often just 20-50 m, with Mt. Atago, the highest peak in the region, having an elevation of just 408 m. Surrounded by bodies of water on three sides, Chiba has a temperate maritime climate characterized by mild winters and cool summers.
While many assume that Tokyo Disneyland is in Tokyo, it is actually located in Chiba. While Disneyland is a major sightseeing attraction in Chiba, there are many other popular spots in the region, including the over 1,000-year-old Naritasan Shinsho-ji Temple (1st picture above), the picturesque Yoro Ravine, and Nokogiriyama Nihonji Temple on Mt. Nokogiri, which is famed for its “Jigoku Nozoki” (Hell Peak Point) that lets you see the world below from atop a rock jutting out from a cliff.
Hanashibuki is a Japanese-style hot spring inn along the Shiomi coast in Tateyama City, which is located at the southern tip of Chiba Prefecture.
With the sea directly in front, you will be able to view the beautiful waters of Tateyama from virtually all parts of Hanashibuki. The view becomes even better when the skies are clear, as you can catch a glimpse of Mt. Fuji and see the sun set over the sea. The 1st picture above is of the open terrace accessible directly from the lounge. The 2nd picture shows the “Ocean View Japanese-Style Room Hana.” When you stay at Hanashibuki, your senses will be treated to the breeze, roar, and smell of the ocean.
The unique charm of Hanashibuki is also seen in the extraordinarily fresh seafood dishes sourced directly from local fishermen using fixed nets. Here you’ll be able to taste a variety of local seafood rarely found anywhere else! While they say freshness is key, most likely don’t know the extent of the deliciousness of truly fresh seafood until tasting it. Furthermore, fishing using fixed nets is a simple method that allows the freshest and healthiest natural fish to be caught without damaging their bodies. As fishermen only wait for the fish to naturally enter the nets, this method ensures only the required number of fish are caught, and not a fish more.
Another highlight is the free-flowing, undiluted hot water of Tateyama Shiomi Onsen drawn from an underground source inside the inn. The 1st picture shows the view as seen from the Japanese-style Modern Twin Room with an open-air bath. The 2nd is the Hanamori no Yu, a large bath exclusively for women. There’s also a public bath for men known as Hanasaki no Yu. If you feel like soaking in private, you can also try the private open-air bath (extra fee) affixed with a private room where you can relax afterwards.
Situated north of Tokyo (map), Saitama City—the capital of Saitama Prefecture—can be easily reached via a roughly 30-minute train ride from Tokyo Station. The western part of the prefecture is lined by towering mountains with elevations of over 2,000 m, however, as you move east, the terrain gradually becomes lower with hills, plateaus, and lowlands. Winter in Saitama is filled with clear days and dry air owing to strong northwest winds, while summer is infamous due to its intense daytime heat and frequent thunder and hailstorms.
Known as Little Kyoto, Kawagoe (1st picture above) is one of Saitama’s most famous sightseeing spots.. It’s a place that you can fully explore in just a day without having to spend the night. Aside from Kawagoe, Saitama is home to a multitude of other hubs of nature and history, such as the Chichibu area that stretches to the western part of the prefecture. This area is known for the approximately 2,100-year-old Chichibu Shrine and the Nagatoro Iwadatami, where crystalline schists protruding from the ground literally create stone tatami mats (2nd picture above).
Gasho No Ie - Vacation STAY 11379
While there are numerous hotels and traditional Japanese-style inns in Saitama, we recommend considering Gasho No Ie – Vacation STAY 11379, a single detached holiday villa situated in a residential area. From here, you can get to the nearest train station of Koshigaya-Laketown Station on the JR Musashino Line in about 17 mins on foot, and to Tokyo in a little less than an hour by train with one transfer.
The biggest appeal of this vacation home is that it will let you fully enjoy life in an authentic residential area in Japan. You can witness and experience the true day-to-day of Japanese people up close, an impossibility at other kinds of accommodations.
While the structure is fairly standard, its interior presents a clean, fresh modern Japanese design, guaranteeing a pleasant and comfortable stay.
Gasho No Ie provides parking in front of the house, allowing you to visit via rental car. There is a park around the pond right next door and a bicycle rental shop nearby, so you can also explore the area via mountain bike. Unlike hotels or inns where everything is pre-arranged, Gasho No Ie allows vacations of a simpler, more independent nature, such as spending time shopping at the local supermarket or wandering the neighborhood.
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The information in this article is accurate at the time of publication.