Top 10: most exclusive hotels in Japan

Monday newsletters always feature top 10 travel lists to inspire.

Today (July 18, 2016): Top 10 best luxury hotels in Japan.

Japan’s colourful shrines, fascinating geisha districts and age-old Buddhist temples stand witness to the country’s rich cultural heritage and ancient history. From the famous monuments in the stunning imperial city of Kyoto to the bustling capital of Tokyo with its dizzying dimensions and flashing neon lights, there is no shortage of major attractions to visit and explore in the land of the rising sun. With the recent opening of some ultra luxe Aman, Ritz-Carlton and Andaz properties, the country now offers a portfolio of exclusive hotels to match the unique cultural experience. And there are more exciting resorts opening in the near feature, with the Four Seasons Kyoto and The Chedi Tomokomai high on my bucket list. To help you plan your travels to Japan, I have compiled a top 10 list of the country’s best luxury hotels.

There is more information below the slideshow. Think I missed one? Share your favorite Japanese hotel in the comments section, or take my poll below!

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Set along the peaceful Hozu River, an authentic Japanese-style experience awaits at Suiran, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Kyoto. A harmonious blend of relaxing heaven and the modern conveniences of a vibrant city, the hotel is perfectly poised to offer access to some of Japan’s most important national treasures. With an intimate collection of 39 guestrooms, including 6 specialty rooms, this retreat is inspired by traditional Japanese touches and culture offering a truly enriching and indigenous experience. Guest rooms are  decorated with tasteful Kyoto design furnishing, and some rooms are equipped with open-air bath with natural Arashiyama spa water. For a locally inspired meal, the restaurant and comfortable café offer a variety of gourmet options.



Hyatt Regency Hakone Resort and Spa is a resort located in Gora in Kanagawa Prefecture in the central region of Honshu, Japan, an area famous for its onsen (hot springs), museums and sightseeing spots, as well as the renowned views of Mount Fuji. The resort offers accommodations with a total of 80 spacious Japanese and Western-style guestrooms and suites, all of which have a private sun terrace or balcony. Guests enjoy Japanese cultural experiences, such as some guestrooms featuring tatami (rush mat) floors, an onsen, and a yukata (a traditional garment that is worn around the hotel). The hotel’s intimate lounge has its own fireplace, which is a perfect decor for the chilly winter evenings.

  • Hotel websiteHyatt Regency Hakone Resort & Spa
  • Tip: enjoy complimentary VIP amenities when booking via Virtuoso (e.g. room upgrade, daily breakfast, early check-in, late check-out, and a complimentary lunch for up to two people per room once during stay).
  • Review: read here my review of the Hyatt Regency Hakone Resort & Spa.


Nestled in the mountains, Benita Mukayu – a Relais & Chateaux property – is a haven of peace with a zen-like atmosphere. Founded in 1928 in the spa town of Yamashiro, Beniya Mukayu is located on the road from the revered Kyoto to the world heritage sites Shirakawago-Gokayama, close to Kanazawa. The hotel’s architecture elegantly emphasizes contrasts between light, shade and neutral colours. Every room has its own private open-air hot spring bath, with a wonderful view of the authentic Japanese garden. The traditional tea ceremony performed by the owner, yoga lessons given every morning, the finest Kaga style Kaiseki cuisine served on locally crafted crockery, as well as invigorating medicinal spa treatments, combine to make Beniya Mukayu a peaceful haven.



The hill overlooking the sea where Sankara Hotel & Spa is located, is an area where subtropical forests and the subalpine climates intersect. This is a perfect location to enjoy the rich fragrance aroma of greenery and a sumptuous, refreshing breeze. The luxury hotel has a retreat atmosphere and a sophisticated and chic interior design, perfect for an adult getaway. Five types of guest rooms, ranging from suites to villas, are available. The hotel has its own brand of linens and amenities that are gentle on both your body and the environment. Whatever your interests may be, give into the relaxing flow of the island by walking in the ancient rainforest, looking for a delectable meal unique to the island, or just enjoying a luxury vacation.



From the moment a guest walks in and collects the room key on a sterling silver key ring, it is clear that a stay at Park Hyatt Tokyo will be an “over-the-top” experience. Perched on the top floors of a modern skyscraper, the famous Park Hyatt Tokyo hotel is an elegant oasis of space and calm overlooking Tokyo and the Kanto Plain all the way to Mount Fuji. The spacious rooms feature stylishly appointed interiors, with earthy hues of deep green and brown set against ebony furnishings, and a rich warmth from the fine woodwork, hand-tufted carpets, and natural-fibre woven wall coverings. Sofia Coppola’s beautiful movie Lost in Translation (2003) was filmed at the Park Hyatt Tokyo.


The St. Regis Osaka is located along the famed street of Midosuji, also intimately known as the Champs Elysées of Osaka. Upon arrival, guests pass by the hotel’s Crystal Tree, inspired by the beautiful palm trees surrounding the city, and are greeted by one of the St. Regis butlers. An eloquent expression of comfort and refined Japanese aesthetics, Osaka’s finest hotel offers an abode of tranquillity and comfort, with its 160 rooms and suites elegantly appointed with refined furnishings and rich textures. Lavishly furnished with all the amenities one would expect from a contemporary residence, each room features opulent marble bathrooms with deep soaking tubs, walk in closets and picturesque city views.

  • Hotel websiteSt Regis Osaka
  • Tip: enjoy complimentary VIP amenities when booking via Virtuoso (e.g. room upgrade, daily breakfast, early check-in, late check-out, and $100 USD food & beverage credit).
  • Review: read here my review of The St Regis Osaka.


Reflecting Japan’s contemporary urban culture, guests can expect a dazzling experience at this hotel. Located in a 52-story skyscraper, Andaz Tokyo offers 164 rooms, of which eight are specialty suites. Abundant natural materials are largely used for the décor, reflecting the traditional Japanese nature-oriented architectural style. From the tower’s apex on the topfloor, Andaz brings unprecedented rooftop flair to this city’s dining and entertainment scene, with breathtaking views from the rooftop bar and the city’s highest stand-alone wedding chapel. The Toranomon neighborhood will be the scene of the Tokyo Olympics in 2020.


The Ritz-Carlton Kyoto describes itself as an international modern-day luxury ryokan. Creating an experience that seamlessly blends the centuries-old traditions of Kyoto with the finest services and facilities that The Ritz-Carlton is renowned for, the property’s ladies and gentlemen truly bring to life the cultural heart of Japan. The hotel is built on banks of the Kamagawa River on land that was gifted to the original owners in the early shogunate era five centuries ago. The Ritz-Carlton Kyoto has 134 rooms and suites, and enjoys panoramic 180 degree views of the Higashiyama mountains in the East which turn a rich shade of imperial purple at sunset. Competition is on the way, with the Four Seasons Kyoto due to arrive this autumn.

  • Hotel websiteThe Ritz-Carlton Kyoto
  • Other accolades: The Ritz-Carlton Kyoto also features in my list of the best new luxury hotels of 2014.
  • Tip: enjoy complimentary VIP amenities when booking via Virtuoso (e.g. room upgrade, daily breakfast, early check-in, late check-out, and $100 USD resort credit).
  • Review: read here my review of The Ritz-Carlton Kyoto.


Occupying the top six floors of the recently-built Otemachi Tower, Aman Tokyo is an urban hotel sanctuary high above the atmospheric whirl of tradition and modernity that epitomises Japan’s capital city Tokyo. The hotel draws its design inspiration from traditional Japanese residential structures, with classic Japanese materials such as timber, Washi paper and stone blended to great effect with modern technology and luxurious fabrics. The hotel is managed by Aman, the world’s most exclusive hotel brand, and has 84 rooms and suites, all with unique layouts, magnificent city views and every contemporary convenience. Each room has a large furo, a deep soaking tub intrinsic to the Japanese ritual of bathing. There is also a continuous reference to nature, from the hotel’s inner garden in the phenomenal lobby, to the fabrics and art incorporated into the design.


Aman’s newest property tops my Japan luxury hotel list. Celebrating Japan’s ancient onsen (mineral hot spring) tradition in scenic Ise Shima National Park, Amanemu opened in March 2016 and is perched on the verdant rolling shores of Ago Bay, known as the Bay of Pearls, on the west coast of Honshu, Japan’s main island. Each of its 24 Suites and four Villas have a private onsen, making the resort the first Aman to integrate mineral hot springs. The design throughout embraces a classical Japanese aesthetic, giving pride of place to natural materials and soothing hues while framing the exceptional natural surroundings. Amanemu features an exceptional spa, with two large onsen bathing pavilions that are complemented by a watsu pool, four treatment suites, a gym and a yoga studio.

  • Hotel website: Amanemu
  • Tip: enjoy complimentary VIP amenities when booking via Virtuoso (e.g. room upgrade, daily breakfast, early check-in, late check-out, and $100 USD food & beverage credit).
  • Review: read here my review of Amanemu.

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  1. Have you been to Hoshinoya Kyoto? From the hype I’ve heard, I think it deserves a spot on this list

  2. Yes, I got a tour of the property during my recent visit to Kyoto (I did not stay overnight though). It’s a beautiful modern ryokan indeed, with an idyllic (but not very convenient) location out of town. I still prefer the other hotels in my list, but that is a matter of personal choice and taste of course …

  3. I really appreciate your blog and there is no doubt this blog is worthy for everyone Especially who are looking at a exclusive hotels in Japan.

  4. Too many phenomenal ryokan in Japan for you to include 2 Hyatts or a Ritz Carlton. Give us a break. Those are just blurbs.

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