9 of the Most Luxurious Ryokans in Japan

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.

Photo: Courtesy of Christina Liao


If you feel like you need to disconnect and recalibrate—and have a few days to do it—then look into booking a couple of nights at a Japanese ryokan. These traditional inns date back to the 8th century A.D., and many of the earliest ones were located along the Tokaido route, which connected current-day Tokyo and Kyoto, and provided respite for nomadic samurai and traders. Now, however, they are a preferred lodging option for locals and tourists alike. These accommodations are characterized by tatami mat flooring, low wooden tables, shoji screens, futon bedding, and yukata robes.