I have always wanted to experience a stay in a ryokan or traditional Japanese inn. A typical ryokan is usually family run and offer a limited number of rooms, hence the expensive price tag.
On my last trip to Japan in May 2015, I decided to splurge a little on a stay in a ryokan in Hakone, a popular onsen town about 2 hours train ride from Tokyo. After much research, I booked a 2 night stay at Hakone Kintoen (金湯苑).
Don’t be deceived by the modern building as this is a true old school ryokan. The moment we walked in, we were greeted with the best Japanese hospitality. We had to remove our shoes when we arrived and were provided with slippers to wear inside the ryokan.
After a quick process of checking in, we were ushered into our room. We were served green tea and light snacks shortly after.
The traditional style room is very basic, consists of sliding doors and tatami-matted floor, a table and floor level chairs and space for futon. The furnishing is showing its age but the room is clean and spacious by Japanese standards.
The room also has a small balcony to sit and relax after a day out.
Guests are given ‘yukata’ to wear while in the ryokan.
At night, the table is moved aside to make space for the futon beds. Though the beds look so simple and basic, they were comfortable and I had 2 good nights of sleep :). In the morning, these beds will have to be cleared and the area is transformed back to its day function.
For two consecutive days, breakfast was served at 8 am sharp as per agreed with the lady who was assigned to our room.
It was quite an elaborate affair with 6 dishes each day! Best of all, the food was delicious and wholesome too.
Hakone Kintoen has its own public bath on the ground floor with men and women having separate bath areas. Before going into the bath, one has to shower while seated on the plastic stool provided. I didn’t try the public bath as we had a private bath in the room. I definitely made full use of it to soak my tired aching limbs after a whole day of walking and sightseeing :).
The 2 nights stay was really a memorable and enjoyable experience. Though it’s more expensive than standard hotel accommodation, it’s definitely worth the price of ¥41,000 for the very personalized service we received throughout our stay.