10 of the best new hotels in Japan, from traditional ryokans to tropical treehouses

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Japan Hotels 2023

“Discover the Coolest New Hotels in Japan for 2023”

In the not-so-distant past, finding accommodations in Japan meant choosing between glossy international hotel chains, uninspiring business hotels, or the traditional yet often basic ryokans. However, the times have changed, and for travelers seeking a taste of Japanese culture, there are now exciting new options to explore. From art-infused ryokans to high-tech urban oases, here are ten of the best new hotels in Japan for 2023 that cater to various tastes and preferences.

  1. Roka Ryokan, Naoshima

    • Best for: art lovers

    The picturesque ‘art island’ of Naoshima has long been a magnet for art enthusiasts, boasting attractions like Yayoi Kusama’s iconic pumpkin sculpture and the Benesse House Museum. Accommodations on the island have struggled to keep pace with demand, but the Roka Ryokan changes that. This high-end ryokan offers 11 suites with classic tatami mat flooring, paper sliding doors, and an airy minimalist design. What sets it apart are the private open-air baths supplied with water from the Yunogo hot springs on the mainland and delectable multi-course sushi feasts. Plus, Roka Ryokan doubles as an art gallery showcasing emerging Japanese talent.

    ROOMS: Doubles from ¥84,000 (£457), half board.

  2. Rakudo-An, Toyama

    • Best for: artisan atmosphere

    Tucked away in the rice paddies of Toyama prefecture, Rakudo-An is a meticulously restored 120-year-old farmhouse. Local artisans, including silk weavers and papermakers, have played a crucial role in preserving and infusing new life into this historic space. The result? Three guest rooms with modern Japanese design inspired by traditional craftsmanship. Moreover, Rakudo-An actively contributes to maintaining the azumadachi-style settlements in Toyama, ensuring the preservation of this unique cultural heritage. Guests can enjoy insider cultural experiences and indulge in dinners featuring local produce while overlooking the picturesque rice fields.

    ROOMS: Doubles from ¥45,000 (£245), B&B.

  3. OMO3, Tokyo Akasaka

    • Best for: urban roamers

    Tokyo, a city of contrasts, can be a challenge for budget-conscious travelers seeking character-rich accommodations. Enter OMO3, part of Japan’s Hoshino hotel group, a 2022 addition to the otherwise pricey Akasaka district. OMO3 redefines budget travel with personalized touches like neighborhood maps, staff-recommended bars and restaurants, and daily OMO Ranger tours exploring local landmarks. The compact yet thoughtfully designed rooms even feature integrated seating areas. Whether you’re sipping drinks in the lobby bar or joining English-speaking staff on a local adventure, OMO3 offers a unique urban experience.

    ROOMS: Doubles from ¥12,000 (£65), room only.

  4. Inn the Park, Fukuoka

    • Best for: waterside reflection

    Fukuoka, a historic port city, has welcomed travelers from around the world for centuries. Inn the Park embraces its waterside setting by offering a glamping-style experience amidst a serene parkland strip that separates Hakata Bay from the Sea of Japan. The standout feature? Spherical pods that seem to float on water and glow beautifully at night. Activities abound, from horse-riding to cycling, and you can even borrow vinyl records for a musical journey. Inn the Park is your gateway to a waterside oasis where you can unwind while gazing out at the tranquil blue expanse.

    ROOMS: Doubles from ¥17,600 (£96), room only.

  5. Marufukuro, Kyoto

    • Best for: Nintendo nostalgia

    Did you know that Nintendo, famous for gaming, once produced playing cards? Marufukuro in Kyoto resides in a piece of Nintendo history. This renovated hotel, designed by Japanese starchitect Tadao Ando, occupies the warehouse, office, and private home built by the Yamauchi family, the founders of Nintendo, in the 1930s. While preserving original features, the hotel adds a contemporary touch with digital art pieces and a free whisky bar. Experience the blend of Japanese and European flavors at Carta restaurant and immerse yourself in a slice of gaming history.

    ROOMS: Doubles from ¥63,000 (£343), B&B.

  6. The Sense Fuji, Yamanashi

    • Best for: peak perfection

    Mount Fuji is more than just a volcano; it’s a symbol of Japan itself. The Sense Fuji offers a sleek villa hotel experience in Narusawa, as close to the peak as you can get without scaling it. Private terraces provide sweeping views on clear days, while saunas and soaking tubs offer relaxation amidst the forest on cloudier ones. For a touch of adventure, explore the nearby Narusawa Ice Cave, a lava tunnel adorned with icicles. The Sense Fuji is the perfect place to embrace the majesty of Mount Fuji and the surrounding natural beauty.

    ROOMS: Doubles from ¥95,000 (£517), half board.

  7. Treeful treehouse, Okinawa

    • Best for: tropical eco-living

    Located in the wild north of Okinawa Island, Treeful offers an eco-stay experience that takes you away from the large resorts and into the heart of virgin forests and mangroves. These treehouses, supported entirely by mature trees, are carbon-negative and solar-powered, leaving a minimal environmental footprint. Floor-to-ceiling windows provide stunning views, and guests can opt for self-catering or a DIY fire-pit menu featuring local delicacies. Explore Okinawa’s famed beaches and discover the agricultural traditions of rural Higashi-son, known for its pineapple and coffee farms.

    ROOMS: Rooms sleeping six from ¥120,000 (£653), B&B.

  8. Hotel Groove Shinjuku, a parkroyal hotel, Tokyo

    • Best for: staying up late

    Step into the vibrant heart of Tokyo’s Kabukicho district with Hotel Groove Shinjuku. This contemporary hotel offers bold, geometric room designs, including tatami-themed rooms, all equipped with soundproofed windows to let you enjoy the nighttime buzz without losing sleep. For night owls, Groove provides walking tours of Golden Gai’s bar-lined alleys, an in-house gaming arcade, and a 24-hour food hall that feels like a disco version of Edo-era backstreets. Don’t miss the hotel’s role as a hub for Pride Week in spring, adding a unique touch to your Tokyo adventure.

    ROOMS: Doubles from ¥30,000 (£163), room only.

  9. Setsu Niseko, Hokkaido

    • Best for: indulgence

    In the heart of Niseko, a paradise for ski enthusiasts, Setsu Niseko offers an indulgent experience focused on two things: rejuvenating onsen baths and exquisite multi-course kaiseki dining. Unlike traditional communal onsens, Setsu Niseko offers private onsen baths, perfect for those seeking a more private soak. The kaiseki meals, prepared by renowned chef Hironori Sato, showcase the best of Hokkaido’s seafood. Whether you’re a skier or simply seeking a peaceful retreat, Setsu Niseko’s contemporary rooms in wood and grey provide a cozy haven.

    ROOMS: Doubles from ¥29,790 (£162), B&B.

  10. Roku Kyoto, LXR Hotels & Resorts

    • Best for: culture-keen families

    Located on the western edge of Kyoto, Roku Kyoto is a resort that caters to culture-minded families. Engage in activities like washi papermaking, craft porcelain, or learn the art of kintsugi, where broken pottery is transformed into art. After a traditional tea ceremony, relax in the outdoor pool or savor French-inflected dishes at Tenjin restaurant. Roku Kyoto also boasts an outdoor onsen pool, and most of its Zen-like rooms overlook lush greenery, offering a serene space for families to explore Japanese culture.

    ROOMS: Doubles from ¥95,646 (£520), room only.

Whether you’re an art lover, an urban explorer, or seeking a serene retreat, these ten new hotels in Japan for 2023 offer an array of experiences. From picturesque islands to bustling metropolises, Japan’s hospitality scene continues to evolve, ensuring there’s something to delight every traveler. So, which of these incredible new destinations will you choose for your next adventure in the Land of the Rising Sun?

Published in the Japan supplement, distributed with the October 2023 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK).

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Japan Hotels 2023

Q: Are these new hotels in Japan suitable for budget travelers?

A: Yes, there are options for budget-conscious travelers, like OMO3 in Tokyo’s Akasaka district, offering character-rich accommodations without breaking the bank.

Q: What makes Roka Ryokan in Naoshima stand out?

A: Roka Ryokan is an art lover’s paradise, located on the ‘art island’ of Naoshima. It combines traditional ryokan charm with private open-air baths and an art gallery showcasing emerging Japanese talent.

Q: Do any of these hotels offer unique cultural experiences?

A: Absolutely! Rakudo-An in Toyama offers insider cultural experiences, and Roku Kyoto provides activities like washi papermaking and kintsugi art for culture-minded travelers.

Q: Which hotel is closest to Mount Fuji?

A: The Sense Fuji in Narusawa offers stunning views of Mount Fuji and is as close to the peak as possible without actually scaling it. It’s a great choice for those seeking proximity to this iconic Japanese symbol.

Q: Are there options for nature lovers and eco-conscious travelers?

A: Treeful treehouse in Okinawa is a carbon-negative, solar-powered eco-stay set in the virgin forests. It’s perfect for nature enthusiasts looking to connect with Okinawa’s natural beauty.

Q: Can families with kids find suitable accommodations?

A: Yes, Roku Kyoto is ideal for culture-keen families, offering a range of on-site activities, an outdoor pool, and serene rooms overlooking lush greenery.

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