Deciding on which ryokan to stay in Hakone was not easy. We had too many considerations in mind:
- Max $400/room ($200/pax) with Half Board Option (Dinner + Breakfast provided)
- Private onsen
- Location must be convenient enough for us to proceed to Kawaguchiko the next morning
- Mt Fuji View
After scanning through almost all the accommodations (above 7.5 ratings) available in Hakone, we finally settled for Shinanoki Ichinoyu.
If you are interested, the other shortlisted ones I had in my list were:
*Do note that prices are in SGD, accurate as at May 2016 and may not include taxes and service charge
- Hotel Green Plaza Hakone (Mt Fuji View but no Private Onsen) @ $337
- Hotel Musashiya (no Mt Fuji View, no Private Onsen, walking distance to Hakone Shrine) @ $398
- Hakone Suimeisou (no Mt Fuji View, no cheap private onsen option, walking distance to Hakoneyumoto Station) @ $417
I first found this accommodation on booking.com and hotels.com (hotels.com no longer list this property) and the price was about $417. On these booking websites, the description of the rooms were quite vague as we were unsure whether there was a private bathroom or toilet. We ended up searching for the ryokan’s actual website and we found out that this ryokan belongs to the ichinoyu chain which owns a couple of other ryokans within the vicinity.
Anyway, the conclusion was that if you book via the actual website, the price is likely to be cheaper!
*However, with rebates website like shopback (booking.com, agoda, hotels.com) where you can earn a rebate off your purchases, you might want to do a bit more research to drill down the exact cents to see which is the better deal. I know hotels.com have a 10 nights free 1 night benefit.
The same room cost us 28,080Y ($351.94 credit card exchange rate as at May 2016) and you even get a free side dish at dinner! You will have to pay a bath tax of 150Y per pax when you arrive at the hotel.
Since we were booking from the direct website, we can see more details about the room and what it looks like:
Open-air bath (circle method plain hot-spring), shower, toilet,
two double-sized low beds(mattresses), Japanese tatami space,
TV, Refrigerator, Safe, Electric pot
*Self service Futon (Japanese sleeping mat)making
Plan : 【Online only】 ≪2meals:extra dish at dinner, Annex≫ Type-B Room
2person(s) Room with Dinner & Breakfast 1room(s)
Room Type : Type-B room with Living space (Annex)(FREE Wi-Fi)
Adult @14,040 yen x 2person(s)
Anyway, to read more reviews, check out its listing on tripadvisor.
My room – it is exactly as what it is seen in the photo (taken off their website) above. It might be the exact same room as mine. I like that it is both western and japanese at the same time. If you’re not comfortable with sitting on the tatami mats for long, you can sit on the comfortable black sofa. We slept on mattresses, not tatami mats but if you prefer, you can set up your own mattress/comforters on the tatami mats (usually for the 3rd & 4th person in the room) and sleep the Japanese way! Do note that the setting up of tatami mat is self-service, no one will enter your room while you dine to set it up for you unlike the other full-service ryokans I visited in Hokkaido. To be honest, my expectations for this ryokan was pretty low as we paid relatively little for a room with private onsen. I kind of set my expectations according to the price I paid.
Although $351/night may sound like a lot of money, this is a lot cheaper than the rest of the other onsens which charge at least $500 for a room with private onsen!!
Entrance to our ryokan, nothing fancy.
Although you can’t see in the photos, this room comes with a private toilet (near the entrance) and a washing up area (sink) which is beside the showering area. Do note that the showering area is the bath house concept. You have to sit on a stool, face your reflection (mirror) and use the shower head to wash yourselves. After you are done with cleaning yourself up, you can open up the sliding door to the “outdoor/open-air” onsen. The water in the onsen is transparent and clear (I don’t know much about onsens to advise further).
Below Left – night view while you’re soaking yourself in the onsen. Right – what the onsen “walls” look like. How did I take these photos? I brought in my phone with a towel and kept it beside me while playing music. It is recommended that you soak no longer than 15 to 20 minutes. Towards the end, I was feeling very dehydrated (probably due to the sake we drank for dinner) and I kind of dashed out of the toilet to get some water before I could possibly faint. I guess the music made me stay longer.
Oh, and yes this private onsen should be able to fit two person inside at the same time.
Also, do note that being on the first floor, you might feel a little “exposed” as you are able to see the second floor windows of the next building but the ryokan assured that the second floor windows from the other building is tinted/blurred.
Public Onsen (Close from 1am to 5am for washing)
According to a review that I read on tripadvisor, he/she claimed that there were only two rooms without private onsen. This means that the public onsen should not be too crowded since most people would already be satisfied with their in-room one. However, to make my money worthwhile (and for my blogging content) and not wanting to see anyone else inside the public onsen, I forced myself awake at 6am to visit the public onsen. As predicted, I was the only one throughout my entire 20 to 30 minutes session.
Their public onsen (with 1 indoor alkaline pool and 1 outdoor sulfurous pool) is very small. Total Capacity per gender is listed as 8 and max of 6 people in the outdoor pool.
Since I was in the onsen alone and without music, things were done pretty quickly. I returned to my room within 30 minutes and snuggled back into bed without my friend realizing. This included the walking, the washing up, the soaking and the hair drying.. I guess if you’re alone, things gets done very quickly.
Half Board Dinner
It might not look like a lot of food at the beginning but trust me you will be quite full towards the end!
For the choice of food and taste wise, I would rate it 7/10 because I’ve tasted and experienced much better ones in Hokkaido. However, in relation to the price we paid, it was pretty alright.
Here’s the menu and I don’t suppose that the menu will change even if you’re staying multiple nights. It is quite the norm for most ryokans so I don’t suggest you stay more than 1 night in a ryokan.
Miso flavoured Sukiyaki isn’t exactly my favourite Japanese dish but ryokans tend to serve food which is representative of their area. In this case, they made their tofus from the spring waters of Hakone and the pork pigs were bred in Hakone too.
Steamed seafood – look at that scallop!! The selection below was little more on the dry side though.
#randomfriedfish This fish was one of the last to be served and I felt that it was a little awkward among the other food.
Since we booked the hotel directly from their website, we were entitled to a free side dish (worth 600Y) and we chose Horse Meat Sashimi as it was something we wouldn’t have otherwise ordered. The taste was nothing worth remembering and I might not be eating such a thing again =/
We ordered a bottle of sake for 2000Y .
Breakfast was a simple affair with fried/grilled fish which was never a favourite of mine. I love their half-boiled eggs. They have all sorts of sauces for you to pair it with. They also gave us a small container of 纳豆 which was this sticky thing which I can’t seem to appreciate. There was also a pot of soup but I remember the taste being quite bland.
That’s all I have to say about this Ryokan!
The location was good for me as there was a direct bus from Hakone Open Air Museum (where we were before this) and a direct bus to Gotemba Station. However, for the bus to Gotemba Station, there were only like 3 timings (since it was a Saturday) if we were to take that particular bus. In the end, we decided to drop by Little Prince Museum in the morning after we checked out. We took a 5 mins bus ride but if the waiting time is long, you can also take a 15 mins walk down a winding path. Please be careful while you’re on the roads as the turns are all pretty sharp.
Any thoughts about this ryokan? Feel free to leave a comment below!