Insider’s Guide to the Best Ryokan in Nikko

I recently embarked on a journey to discover the best ryokan in Nikko. For those who might be new to Japanese culture, a ryokan is a traditional Japanese inn, offering a unique experience that combines local hospitality, cultural immersion, and typically, an onsen (hot spring bath). Here’s a detailed account of my experiences, coupled with some tips and insights to enhance your own ryokan adventure.

Understanding Ryokans: A Glimpse into Japanese Tradition

Before diving into my ryokan reviews, here’s a quick primer: Ryokans are more than just places to stay; they are gateways to understanding Japanese culture. Expect tatami floors, futon beds, and often, kaiseki meals – a multi-course dinner showcasing local and seasonal cuisine. When visiting a ryokan, it’s customary to remove your shoes at the entrance and wear the provided yukata (a casual kimono) during your stay.

Nikko Tokinoyuu – A Perfect Blend of Comfort and Tradition

When it comes to experiencing authentic Japanese hospitality, nothing compares to the best ryokan in Nikko. My first stop was Nikko Tokinoyuu, priced at $107 per night. With a review score of 8.5, it provided a wonderful blend of comfort and tradition. Tip: Take advantage of the free cancellation policy for flexible travel plans.

Nikko Tokinoyuu

  • Price per Night: $107
  • Review Score: 8.5 (Excellent)
  • Amenities: Free cancellation
  • View Hotel

What Reviewers Say

Guests often highlight the following aspects of Nikko Tokinoyuu:

  1. Authentic Japanese Experience: Travelers appreciate the traditional Japanese ambiance of the ryokan, which includes tatami mats, futon beds, and sliding paper doors.
  2. Ideal Location: Its proximity to famous sites like Toshogu Shrine and other cultural landmarks in Nikko makes it a favorite for visitors looking to explore the rich history and natural beauty of the area.
  3. Comfortable Accommodations: Reviews frequently mention the comfort and cleanliness of the rooms, providing a cozy and relaxing stay.
  4. Excellent Service: The staff’s hospitality and willingness to help guests have been consistently praised, adding a personal touch to the stay.
  5. Local Cuisine: Guests often rave about the traditional Japanese breakfast served at the ryokan, noting it as a highlight of their stay.

Tips and Recommendations

  • Accessibility: Keep in mind that traditional ryokans like this might not have elevators. If mobility is a concern, it’s advisable to request a room on a lower floor.
  • Cultural Experience: To fully enjoy the ryokan experience, try wearing the provided yukata (casual kimono) and explore the local onsen (hot springs) if available.
  • Local Exploration: Take time to visit nearby attractions and immerse yourself in the rich cultural heritage of Nikko.

Nikko Tokinoyuu offers a wonderful opportunity to experience traditional Japanese lodging while enjoying the conveniences of modern amenities. The ryokan’s blend of cultural richness and comfort, along with its excellent location, makes it a compelling choice for travelers seeking an authentic Japanese experience. Each of these accommodations has its unique charm, but they all contend for the title of the best ryokan in Nikko.”

Kinugawa Onsen Hana no Yado Matsuya – Luxurious Retreat

Next was Kinugawa Onsen Hana no Yado Matsuya, where I spent $211 per night. Its luxurious amenities, including a hot tub and kitchenette, earned it an 8.4 score. Useful Tip: Ryokans with onsen facilities offer a tranquil spa experience; don’t forget to check the bathing etiquette before enjoying the hot springs.

  • Price per Night: $211
  • Review Score: 8.4 (Excellent)
  • Amenities: Hot tub, Kitchen/Kitchenette, Free breakfast, Free cancellation
  • View Hotel

What Reviewers Say

Guests typically emphasize these aspects:

  1. Onsen Experience: The onsen is a major highlight, offering a relaxing and authentic hot spring experience. Guests appreciate both the quality of the onsen facilities and the serene ambiance they provide.
  2. Room Comfort and Traditional Design: The rooms are noted for their comfortable setup, maintaining a balance between traditional Japanese design and modern comforts. Many enjoy the traditional tatami floors and futon bedding.
  3. Quality of Meals: The breakfast, included in the stay, receives high praise for its variety and quality. It’s an excellent way to experience local Japanese cuisine.
  4. Service and Hospitality: The staff’s attentiveness and warmth contribute significantly to the guests’ positive experiences, enhancing the overall stay.
  5. Scenic Location: Situated in the Kinugawa area, known for its scenic beauty, it provides easy access to natural sights and is ideal for guests looking to explore the outdoors.

Unique Selling Points

  • Focus on Onsen: Unlike many other ryokans, Kinugawa Onsen Hana no Yado Matsuya places a strong emphasis on its onsen facilities, making it a top choice for those specifically seeking a hot spring experience.
  • Combination of Tradition and Modern Comfort: While it offers a traditional ryokan experience, it also ensures modern comforts and amenities, striking a balance that appeals to a wide range of travelers.
  • Scenic and Tranquil Environment: Its location in the Kinugawa area, known for its natural hot springs and beautiful landscapes, adds an extra layer of tranquility and scenic enjoyment to your stay.


  • Price Point: It’s priced higher than some other ryokans, which reflects the quality of its facilities and services.

Overall, Kinugawa Onsen Hana no Yado Matsuya provides a deeply immersive experience in Japanese culture and relaxation, especially with its onsen facilities. It’s ideal for those who prioritize wellness and tranquility in a traditional setting.

Honke Bankyu – Traditional Elegance

Honke Bankyu, at $369 per night, stood out for its elegant traditional design. Insight: High-end ryokans often provide kaiseki dining experiences. Be sure to inform them of any dietary restrictions in advance.

  • Price per Night: $369
  • Review Score: 8.4 (Excellent)
  • Amenities: Kitchen/Kitchenette, Free breakfast, Free cancellation
  • View Hotel

Isshinkan – Wellness and Comfort

Isshinkan, priced at $173, offers wellness amenities like a spa and a pool. With a review score of 7.4, it’s great for relaxation. Tip: If you’re looking for peace and quiet, ask for a room away from family areas or large tour groups.

  • Price per Night: $173
  • Review Score: 7.4 (Good)
  • Amenities: Hot tub, Pool, Spa, Free cancellation
  • View Hotel

Tokiwa Ryokan – Quality at an Affordable Price

Finally, Tokiwa Ryokan, at just $84 per night, provided excellent value. Useful Tip: Ryokans like this are perfect for budget travelers who still want an authentic Japanese experience.

  • Price per Night: $84
  • Review Score: 8.2 (Excellent)
  • Amenities: Free cancellation
  • View Hotel

Enhancing Your Ryokan Stay

Among the myriad of options, finding the best ryokan in Nikko can transform your trip from ordinary to extraordinary. To make the most of your ryokan experience, here are some additional tips:

  • Participate in tea ceremonies or cultural activities offered by the ryokan.
  • Explore the surrounding area, as ryokans are often located in scenic spots.
  • Respect the quiet and serene atmosphere typical of ryokans.
  • Be open to communal dining and bathing, as these are integral parts of the ryokan experience.

Final Thoughts

My journey through Nikko’s best ryokans was an enlightening cultural adventure. Each ryokan brought a unique flavor of Japanese hospitality and tradition. Whether you’re after luxury, wellness, or affordability, Nikko’s ryokans cater to every preference. Don’t hesitate to check out the provided links for more details or to book a stay.

Embarking on a ryokan journey is not just about finding a place to sleep; it’s about immersing yourself in the heart of Japanese culture. I hope my insights and tips help you plan an unforgettable experience in Nikko. If you have any questions or need further guidance, feel free to reach out!

About the author
Hi there! I'm Essie, your go-to gal for all things travel. My heart beats for journeys that blend cultural immersion with a touch of luxury. I believe in the magic of balancing rustic street tours in ancient cities with serene evenings in five-star retreats. From sipping tea in a centuries-old Japanese temple to basking in the opulence of a Parisian boutique hotel, I truly enjoy it all!

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