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Travel bucket list idea:

Stay at a ryokan in Tokyo

  • Tokyo, Kanto, Japan

  • Bucket List Experience

Last updated: 21 April, 2024

To stay a night at one of Japan’s ryokan (traditional inns) is to immerse yourself in living history – the oldest hotel in the world is a ryokan, established in 705 and still going strong 51 generations later.

Ryokan can be modest or uber-luxurious, but there are defining traits.

Almost all have tatami mat rooms and futon beds, staff wearing traditional attire like kimono, and an air of calm and quiet. Many have in-house onsen baths, and serve traditional kaiseki-ryori dinners (if not the full 12-course extravaganza, then at least simpler multi-course dinner that focuses on local produce and specialities).

But it won’t be for everyone. Kids can find ryokan a bit dull – and the food challenging. The service, though often superb, can also be inflexible, with mealtimes locked into narrow windows and many mid-range and above ryokan not offering room-only stays. The best approach is to stay for just one night.

Who to go with: tour operators

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Ryokan Sawanoya

  • Tokyo, Kanto, Japan

  • Official star rating:

Traditional bedding in ryokan

Place to Stay

Family-run ryokan (traditional inn), providing tradition on a budget in Tokyo’s old Yanaka neighbourhood.

Average £140

Extra beds

Pool

2+ bedrooms

Beach

Kids menu

Fitness center

Kids club

Hoshinoya Tokyo

  • Tokyo, Kanto, Japan

  • Official star rating:

Layered outdoor light feature

Place to Stay

A high-rise, high-end contemporary take on the traditional ryokan with a great central location.

Average £600

Extra beds

Pool

2+ bedrooms

Beach

Kids menu

Fitness center

Kids club

Logistics

Price from: £-
Minimum age: Any
Age suitable: 18+
When: All year around
Duration: 1 night

Destination guides

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Destination guides including or relevant to this experience

Tokyo

  • Kanto, Japan

Tokyo

Destination guide

A dizzying mixture of old ways and modern style, crowds and calm, and arguably the best food scene on the planet.