For many people, one of the best parts of traveling to Japan is the opportunity to stay in a traditional ryokan.
If you’re looking for an authentic Japanese experience with a little bit more privacy than what the traditional onsen experience offers, a ryokan with a private onsen is the perfect option.
Private onsens offer a level of privacy and relaxation that you simply can’t find at a public bathhouse. You can enjoy the soothing waters of the hot spring without having to worry about who might be watching or overhearing you.
Hakone is home to some of the best ryokans in Japan, and most of them offer their own private onsen, as well as stunning nature views and plenty of activities to keep you busy.
Please note that because of their popularity, ryokan rooms with their own private onsen tend to get booked out weeks (or even months) in advance. My tip to you is once you’ve set your eyes on the ryokan you love, it’s best to try and book that room as soon as you can.
Read on for our picks for the best ryokans with private onsen in Hakone, Japan!
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Where Is Hakone?
Hakone is located in Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan, approximately 80 kilometers southwest of Tokyo. This magical town is best known for its natural hot springs, or onsen, as well as its stunning views of Mount Fuji!
While Hakone makes for a perfect day trip from Tokyo, you’ll be doing yourself a disservice by NOT staying the night! Many travelers choose to spend the night in Hakone for the entire ryokan experience.
Outside of bathing in Hakone’s healing waters and relaxing in a ryokan, you can also expect to find beautiful nature trails and historic landmarks such as Hakone Shrine and the Hakone Open-Air Museum.
Other popular activities in Hakone include taking a scenic boat ride on Lake Ashi, riding the Hakone Ropeway for panoramic views of the surrounding landscape, visiting the Owakudani geothermal valley to see volcanic activity up close, exploring the Hakone Checkpoint Museum to learn about the area’s history, and visiting the Pola Museum of Art to see a collection of Japanese and Western art.
What Is A Ryokan?
In a nutshell, a ryokan is a traditional Japanese inn that provides guests with a unique and authentic Japanese overnight experience.
Staying at a ryokan generally involves sleeping on futons on tatami mats, and wearing yukata robes while relaxing in the common areas.
Other activities that guests can enjoy while staying at a ryokan include soaking in an onsen (natural hot spring), taking part in a tea ceremony, and dining on kaiseki cuisine.
When staying at a ryokan, visitors can expect to enjoy traditional Japanese cuisine and hospitality. Truly, the food and staff are both an experience of their own!
Ryokans are typically located in scenic areas such as by the ocean or in the mountains, and many offer views of nearby gardens or temples. Whether you’re looking for a place to relax and rejuvenate, or simply want to immerse yourself in Japanese culture, staying at a ryokan is an unforgettable experience.
Okay, so what is an onsen?
While a ryokan is a traditional Japanese inn that offers guests an overnight experience, an onsen is a natural hot spring that is used for bathing and relaxation.
7 Best Ryokans With Private Onsen In Hakone, Japan
1. okcs Retreat Hakone villa
Nestled in the foothills of Mount Fuji, okcs Retreat Hakone is one of the best Ryokans in Hakone, Japan. This villa-style property offers beautiful views of the surrounding mountains and valley, as well as a variety of amenities and activities to keep guests entertained.
The 4-star ryokan itself offers spacious and well-appointed villa suites, with a large living space, fireplaces, wine fridges, and even amazing speaker quality for music! Each room has a well-stocked, complimentary mini bar as well as tea and coffee, which is always a nice touch.
Best of all, each room comes with a private onsen that guests can enjoy whenever they want. Private villa with a private onsen? You can’t beat it!
Outside, guests can enjoy the villa’s garden, pool, onsite restaurant, and hot tub. Dinner and breakfast can be served in your room or in the shared dining room.
There is also a shuttle service that runs to and from the nearby town of Hakone, making it easy to explore all that this picturesque region has to offer. There is also a bus station next to the hotel.
2. Hakone Kowakien Tenyu
Cost: $$ – $$$ – TWE RECOMMENDED CHOICE
People come to Hakone Kowakien Tenyu to experience world-class service and to feel tranquility at its finest.
Opened in April 2017, Hakone Kowakien Tenyu offers Japanese-style rooms with tatami flooring and private onsens, as well as various communal open-air baths made with Shigaraki pottery.
The standout features of this ryokan include the private baths and quality of the meals here. Both dinner and breakfast are going to be exceptionally good and beautifully presented. Not to mention, the staff members here are very attentive and will make you feel really welcome.
Upon arriving, you can take a stroll through the garden on the first floor, then get yourself a nice and relaxing couples massage!
In terms of onsen amenities, you get a choice of two public baths, in addition to the private one in your room. Both the infinity-style onsen and the onsen with the waterfall are great.
There is an on-site bar and lounge in addition to a Japanese-style restaurant. Hakone Kowakien Tenyu offers a self-serve breakfast buffet. For dinner, guests can enjoy Japanese and Western-style fusion cuisine.
3. Hakone Fuga
Hakone Fuga Ryokan offers a more modern experience, with spacious rooms featuring hardwood floors and raised Western-style beds. In fact, the rooms here are some of the largest rooms you’ll probably stay at in Japan.
In terms of food, Hakone Fuga grants guests a creative Japanese-Western kaiseki cuisine experience for dinner and breakfast.
Guests can unwind in their very own private open-air onsen for an additional charge. You’ll just need to select a room with an onsen upon booking.
From the complimentary glass of wine at check-in to the beautiful foliage views from the guestrooms and the tranquil onsen baths to the delicious meals served here–you can expect quite the delightful experience.
While the property is a bit further from the main attractions in Hakone, a free shuttle service is available to guests, but only within 10 min from the property.
4. Hakone Ashinoko Hanaori
Featuring a terrace with views of Lake Ashi, Ashinoko Hanaori offers a wonderful ryokan experience, from its soothing hot spring baths to its relaxing sauna. Even upon arriving, you will be wowed. Almost immediately, guests are treated to a lovely view of Ashinoko that is made more breathtaking by the hotel’s infinity pond.
Each room will feature a view of either the lake or the mountain. Some rooms have balconies with private onsens, while others are more basic.
In terms of amenities, you’re going to find a good amount here. The ryokan has an expansive public onsen, a private onsen that can be booked for an additional charge, an on-site restaurant and shop, and guests can relax with a massage treatment at the property.
And if you’re wondering if Hakone Ashinoko Hanaori is in a good location, you can rest assured that it is! The property is located a 2-minute walk from Togendai Station, close to Hakone Ropeway and the pirate cruise boats.
There is also a free shuttle bus service to Odawara Station that’s offered a few times daily. Please note that this needs to be booked in advance.
Also of note is that both dinner and breakfast are both buffet-style as opposed to in-room dining.
5. Tensui Saryo
At Tensui Saryo, you can expect great and spacious rooms with private open-air baths. And of course, like many ryokans in the area, the food will be amazing.
There are a few different rooms with private onsens you can choose from, but one thing is consistent among them all–the fact that you get to enjoy it on your own little balcony just elevates your experience that much more. The mountain views are incredible!
Once you are done soaking for the afternoon, it’s time to prepare for dinner. Emerge from your room dressed in your traditional yukata and head to the restaurant for an elaborate 10-course kaiseki dinner.
For all my coffee drinkers, they also provide drip coffee in the room! Another little bonus is that there is nice cafe right in front of the hotel.
In terms of location, Gora Station is literally just around the corner, with cable cars and a bus stop nearby. Given such a prime location, Tensui Saryo is ideal for traveling around Hakone for few days.
6. Hakone Suimeisou
If you’re looking for a moderately-priced ryokan near Hakone Yumoto Station, Hakone Suimeisou is the place for you – it’s only 3 minutes away, making it a super central place to stay!
Its location is perfect if you want to take your time exploring the area and seeing attractions such as Odawara Castle and Hakone Open-Air Museum.
While this ryokan isn’t your traditional Japanese-style inn, it does a fantastic job of incorporating Japanese design concepts to make its simple, modern spaces reminiscent of traditional Japanese ryokan style.
You are able to reserve a room with its own private onsen, which you can use whenever you want. Aside from the other private onsen that can be reserved for a period of time, there is also a public onsen on the top floor that can be visited by all guests.
If you’re looking for that extra privacy, do try and book the private onsen room if possible, otherwise, the public open-air onsen on the top floor is great.
Kinnotake Tonosawa Ryokan
Kinnotake Tonosawa Ryokan is an adults-only ryokan that’s perhaps the most luxurious on this list. From the attentive 5-star service to the surrounding bamboo grove that creates the most inviting atmosphere, this ryokan will be a pure delight.
And the food? Oh yes, the food. The meals here are some of the best you’ll ever taste at any ryokan.
The luxury guest rooms all come with a private onsen bath. There is quite a variety of private onsen styles offered at this ryokan with names such as Haruka, Tsuki, Hoshi, etc., so half the fun is choosing the room you want!
You can check them all out online and book the one that calls to you the most.
Some Basic Onsen Rules To Know
Before you jump right into an onsen for the first time, there are a few rules you should be aware of.
- Get naked.
- As this is a bath and not a pool, you must take off all of your clothing and leave it in the changing area. There is no need to be shy because everyone else there is also doing the same. It’s a judgment-free zone and nobody is going to be looking at you.
- Rinse off.
- After entering the bath area, you’ll need to wash yourself off at the showers before entering the baths. (In Japan, baths are for soaking, not for cleaning yourself. You gotta do that beforehand.) The shower areas typically consist of a showerhead, a small stool, and shower/bath toiletries.
- Put your stuff away.
- Once you’ve completely rinsed off, feel free to enter the baths. Some people like to bring a face towelette with them (to be placed on the head or the face). Aside from this towel, refrain from bringing anything else in.
- Now sit back, relax, and enjoy the warm soothing waters of the onsen!
Essential Tips For Staying At A Ryokan
- Dinner and breakfast are typically included in the price of your stay. If you are given a choice upon booking, opt for the meal package! Expect a huge spread of traditional Japanese deliciousness for both meals.
- At some ryokans, you’ll eat sitting cross-legged on the floor. At other more Westernized ones, you can eat at tables while sitting in chairs.
- Just like in Japanese homes, it is customary to take off your shoes before entering Japanese inns. More modern ryokans might not require you to take off your shoes until you get to your room. No matter what though, you should never wear your shoes on the tatami mats.
- Many ryokans feature a public soaking area or onsen, that you can use if you’re not afraid of being naked in front of others.
- It’s customary to shower before getting into the bath so you don’t dirty the water.
- The traditional yukata that you’ll be wearing doubles as both pajamas and the outfit you wear to dinner.
- At some ryokans, walls are divided by shoji, translucent paper room dividers. Since they don’t offer much protection from sound, always be mindful of other guests who might be sleeping.
- During breakfast, coffee is not guaranteed (depends on the ryokan you choose). If you know you’ll need more caffeine than what a cup of green tea can offer, pack your own instant coffee to drink in the morning.
- Tattoos are technically still looked down upon in Japan. Many ryokans do not allow tattoos to be shown in public soaking areas. If you have tattoos, it may be best to look for ryokans offering private onsen tubs.
Ryokan in Hakone: Frequently Asked Questions
Are private onsens expensive?
Private onsens can range in price depending on the location, size, and amenities offered. However, they tend to be more expensive than public onsens, as they offer a more exclusive and private experience. If you’re conscious of your budget, be sure to take a look at the ryokans listed above and compare prices!
Can couples go to public onsen together?
In most cases, couples are not allowed to go to public onsens together. Public onsens are traditionally gender-segregated, with separate areas for men and women.
Having said that, some ryokans and hotels offer private onsens that can be used by couples together. These private onsens can either be inside your hotel room or in a private room on the property that you can reserve (usually on a first-come-first-served basis).
Can you wear bathing suits in an onsen?
No, it is not customary to wear bathing suits in an onsen. In fact, many onsens ban clothes/bathing suits. Clothes and bathing suits can bring dirt and soap into the natural hot spring waters from outside and are, therefore, considered unhygienic.
Onsens are meant to be enjoyed without clothes on, as this is more hygienic, lessens the chance of water contamination, and allows for a more natural and relaxing experience.
How long do you sit in an onsen?
The length of time you sit in an onsen can vary depending on personal preference and the temperature of the water. However, it is generally recommended that you soak for about 10-15 minutes at a time, taking breaks to cool down and rehydrate as needed. It is important to listen to your body and not stay in the onsen for too long, as this can lead to dehydration or overheating!
What are some other popular onsen towns in Japan?
Some other popular onsen towns in Japan include Kusatsu, Beppu, and Yufuin. For more inspiration, check out this post: 10 Amazing Onsen Towns In Japan To Visit On Your Next Trip
What is the difference between a public and private onsen?
Public onsens are typically gender-segregated and open to the public, while private onsens are reserved for individuals or groups and offer a more exclusive and private experience.
Public onsens are often located within ryokans / onsen resorts, while private onsens can be found in various locations, including hotels, ryokans, and even vacation rentals.
If you’d like to enjoy a soak with your significant other (of the opposite gender), a private onsen may suit you better.
What is the difference between onsen and sento?
Onsen and sento are both types of Japanese public baths, but there are some key differences between the two.
Onsen are natural hot springs that are heated by geothermal activity and contain mineral-rich water. These hot springs are typically located in mountainous areas or near active volcanoes, and the water is believed to have healing properties due to its mineral content. Onsen are often located outdoors and offer scenic views of the surrounding landscape.
Sento, on the other hand, are public bathhouses that are heated by artificial means, such as gas or electricity. The water in sento is typically not mineral-rich, and the bathhouses are often located in urban areas.
Another key difference between onsen and sento is the bathing attire. In onsen, it is customary to bathe naked, while in sento, bathers are usually required to wear a small towel or bathing suit.
Can I use an onsen if I am not staying at a ryokan or onsen resort?
Yes, it is possible to use an onsen even if you are not staying at a ryokan or onsen resort. Many public onsens are open to the public and do not require reservations. There are also some private onsens within onsen resorts that can be booked for individual use, even if you are not staying the night.
It is important to check with each onsen beforehand to ensure that they allow non-guests to use their facilities and to confirm any specific rules or requirements!
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