In the midst of the Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park, in the Gōra district, there is a majestic mountain lodge, surrounded by breath-taking natural views. Here, one still gets repeated glimpses of the eternal Japan through the contemporary sophistication. If you are lucky enough to stop at the thermal spa town of Hakone, and you have time to treat yourself to a break from the fast pace of big city life, you must make sure you don’t miss it.
This getaway promises (and delivers) a whole series of happy experiences, such as discovering that Japanese hospitality is no myth, enjoying uniquely exotic surroundings, marvelling at the splendours of the mountains either on waking or from the summit of Mount Fuji if time permits, immersing oneself in the unique atmosphere of the onsen (hot pools), relishing a delicious buffet-style breakfast (à la carte service at present, in view of the current situation) featuring both Japanese touches and international dishes, and generally treating oneself to the wellbeing and luxury of a complete break.
The sense of wonder continues as one takes in the interior architecture. The rooms, apart from being spacious and having a terrace with an incredible view, combine traditional Japanese style with modern comfort. The hotel welcomes each guest by laying out a yukata (a cotton kimono) and tanzen (a matching jacket) for wear around the hotel. The Japanese wear these garments to go for a bath, for meals and in moments of relaxation. And quite right too, they’re very comfortable! In the rooms and in the hall, which has an immense fireplace around which the hotel offers complimentary drinks every day from 4pm to 7pm, the decoration is muted. And undoubtedly elegant.
It’s nothing like a ryokan or traditional Japanese inn, but it has an authentic and distinctly Japanese feel. There are two indoor onsen, one for women, one for men, where nudity is compulsory. Here is the biggest spa in the region, and guests benefit from the therapeutic benefits of the hot springs of the Owakudani volcanic valley. Added to this is Japanese hospitality at a very high level, raising the hotel to the rank of “best in region” and making it one of the favourite destinations of Tokyoites.