Billed as the oldest hotel in the world (although it was actually recently discovered to be the second-oldest), Hoshi Ryokan is a traditional Japanese guest house with a stunning garden.
Run by the 46th generation of the same family, it has been in business for over 1300 years. While the front retains the original style, there’s a large extension on the back, so you’ll find it’s actually quite a lot bigger than you might expect. From the welcome to the meals though, it’s a truly authentic Japanese experience. Invited to admire the garden with some tea and wagashi, when you arrive, you can relax into the ryokan experience – basically being led through each stage of your stay. From a guided tour and potted history on your way to your room to the extensive dinner and the magic appearance of your futon when you arrive back in your room, staying in a ryokan is a uniquely relaxing experience, and Hoshi has it down to a fine art. While it’s not as pricey as some of the luxury options in the town, the service is still exceptional, with English speaking staff available and omotenashi in the very air you breath.
There are onsen in the hotel as well as multiple restaurants and a shop, all centered around the ancient central garden. We suggest springing a little extra for a garden-view room – if you’re going to stay in a ryokan, it might as well be done properly. Luckily, they offer rooms with or without meals, so you can save on that front instead (some ryokan only have full-board options which gets pricey). The meals are traditional and involve an impressive array of dishes – all seasonal and as local as possible.