But the real perks of staying at a ryokan are the impeccable hospitality (omotenashi), multicourse kaiseki dinner (and ensuing breakfast spread) that’s typically built into room rates, and, not always but sometimes, access to a nearby or on-site onsen (hot spring). These bathing facilities are usually communal, separated by gender, and, quite honestly, not for the modest. But if you aren’t easily abashed, they’re incredibly soothing and restorative.
For those who really want to soak in Japan’s age-old customs, traditional ryokans are certainly the way to go. And even if you’re seeking modern conveniences, the past couple years have seen an increase in contemporary options that still embody many of the same principles. Whether you prefer old or new, we’ve picked out some of the most luxurious ryokans and ryokan-inspired hotels for you to unwind at on your next trip to Japan.