The best hotels and ryokans in Japan range from charming traditional inns in the countryside, to stylish design hotels and some of the world’s most luxurious accommodations.

As experts in luxury Japan travel, one of the “hardest” parts of our jobs is visiting our favorite destinations in Japan — from Tokyo and Kyoto, to off-the-beaten-path gems — to check out unique and luxurious accommodation options around the country.

Based on our first-hand experience, and feedback from our clients, we’ve curated this list of Japan’s best and most splurge-worthy boutique and luxury hotels and ryokans.

Before you dive in, keep in mind that the “best” hotel or ryokan is ultimately one that matches your personal travel style. What may be the perfect property for one traveler may not be quite right for you (this is why we believe in highly personalized trip planning).

We hope our list, which features both small properties and larger luxury hotels, helps you decide where to stay during your Japan trip.

Originally written in 2014, this post was last updated on Feb. 5, 2024.

Villa Zaborin Hokkaido

Table of Contents: Japan’s Best Hotels & Ryokans

For context, we suggest reading (or at least scanning) each section, but if you’re ready to skip ahead here are helpful links:

Best Boutique and Luxury Hotels in Kyoto

Best Places to Stay in Japan Beyond Tokyo and Kyoto


Best Boutique and Luxury Hotels in Tokyo

The city of Tokyo is a hotel lover’s dream, full of properties that will almost make you want to simply stay in your room and enjoy the view.

The Tokyo metropolis is blessed with some top-notch luxury properties, and one thing they have in common is impeccable service (Japanese hospitality is one of our favorite things about Japan).

Here is a short list of Tokyo’s best and most unique boutique and luxury hotels.

Aman Tokyo

A minimalist’s dream, Aman Tokyo is truly a stunning property. Featuring an unbelievably spacious lobby with sweeping views over the Imperial Palace and the Tokyo metropolis, Aman’s rooms are also extremely spacious, with roomy suites and some of the largest entry-level rooms in the city.

Aman Tokyo Premier Room
The luxurious Aman Tokyo

Andaz Tokyo Toranomon Hills

The sleekest Hyatt property in the city, Andaz Tokyo Toranomon Hills is housed within the gleaming Toranomon Hills complex in central Tokyo. Enjoy beautiful city vistas (we love Tower View, but all rooms and suites feature views), and complimentary extras such as wine in the evenings.

The Capitol Hotel Tokyu

The Capitol Hotel Tokyu is a sophisticated, slightly understated luxury hotel in a quiet section of central Tokyo near the National Diet Building. On the map, the location would appear to be quite central and thus convenient, though in reality it can feel a bit isolated. Nevertheless, the Capitol Tokyu is a comfortable hotel with excellent service, and suitable for travelers not in need of a cutting-edge vibe.

Cerulean Tower Tokyu Hotel

Cerulean Tower is a classic high-end hotel offering sweeping views of Tokyo’s skyline. Unlike the majority of Tokyo’s luxury hotels, which tend to be situated in and around the Ginza, Tokyo Station, and Otemachi areas, Cerulean Tower’s location in Shibuya offers convenient access to many of Tokyo’s most stylish neighborhoods, such as Naka-Meguro, Daikanyama, Aoyama, and Omotesando. (Read more about Tokyo’s best off-the-beaten-path neighborhoods.)

Conrad Tokyo

The most luxurious Hilton-affiliated property in the city, Conrad Tokyo offers remarkable views over Tokyo’s skyline and Tokyo Bay. Located in the modern Shiodome district, Conrad Tokyo also offers convenient access to the nearby Ginza district and Tsukiji, along with the Odaiba area.

Four Seasons Hotel Tokyo at Marunouchi

Four Seasons’ original hotel in the city, Four Seasons Hotel Tokyo at Marunouchi offers a central, if slightly hectic, location. Some rooms are very nice, but note that others have disappointingly uninspiring views of nearby office buildings.

Four Seasons Hotel Tokyo at Otemachi Deluxe Room Imperial Garden View
Four Seasons Hotel Tokyo at Otemachi

Four Seasons Hotel Tokyo at Otemachi

The brand’s newer property, Four Seasons Hotel Tokyo at Otemachi, is a welcome addition to Tokyo’s luxury hotel scene. Walking distance from the East Gardens of the Imperial Palace, Four Seasons’ Otemachi location offers beautiful city views and has one of the city’s few open-air rooftop terraces.


Hoshino Resorts is a major player in the Japanese accommodations world, and their Tokyo property is a stunner. Styled to feel like an urban ryokan, HOSHINOYA Tokyo is a great choice for travelers seeking a highly Japanese aesthetic when visiting the city.

Hotel Niwa Tokyo

Hotel Niwa Tokyo is one of our favorite mid-range properties in Tokyo. Not quite a luxury or boutique hotel, Hotel Niwa is ideal for travelers seeking a pleasant stay in a convenient, comfortable hotel with helpful staff.

Hyatt Centric Ginza Tokyo

Hyatt Centric Ginza Tokyo is a nice upper mid-range hotel with a very convenient location in the heart of Ginza. Even the smaller, entry-level rooms are fairly spacious by Tokyo standards, and all rooms and suites feature a pleasant if relatively basic modern style. While not as luxurious or unique as many of the other hotels on this list, Hyatt Centric Ginza can be a great practical option for travelers not looking to splurge all the way.

Janu Tokyo

The first hotel from Aman Group’s Janu brand, which focuses on connection and vibrancy (in contrast to Aman’s emphasis on tranquility and seclusion), Janu Tokyo is the only hotel in Tokyo’s innovative Azabudai Hills complex. Many of its rooms and suites, designed by Jean-Michel Gathy of Denniston, feature private balconies looking out over the city.

K5 Hotel Tokyo
K5 Hotel Tokyo


One of Tokyo’s surprisingly few Design Hotels members, K5 is a beautiful boutique hotel tucked away in Kabutocho, a quiet section of Nihonbashi in the center of Tokyo. The colorful rooms range from cozy to luxuriously spacious.

Kimpton Shinjuku

It’s hard to call this a “favorite,” but if you must stay in the Shinjuku area (not something we typically recommend), Kimpton Shinjuku is a nice and relatively reasonable option (and a go-to for pet-toting locals).

Mandarin Oriental, Tokyo

No article on Tokyo’s best luxury hotels would be complete without mention of the Mandarin Oriental, Tokyo. One of the city’s most renowned high-end properties, the Mandarin Oriental also has a legendary concierge team (though most of the city’s luxury hotels have excellent concierges).

Lobby Mandarin Oriental Tokyo Japan
Mandarin Oriental, Tokyo

Palace Hotel Tokyo

One of our perennial favorites in Tokyo, Palace Hotel Tokyo features bright, elegant rooms — many with balconies overlooking the Imperial Palace gardens. The Palace is a fantastic option for travelers seeking a luxury hotel not run by one of the major international hotel chains.

Park Hyatt Tokyo

Legendary for its role in Lost in Translation, the Park Hyatt Tokyo is a classic luxury hotel in the city, though some travelers may find its location (deep in Shinjuku) on the inconvenient side. Whether you stay at Park Hyatt Tokyo or not, it’s always fun to enjoy a whisky at the New York Bar, which offers wonderful city views.

The Peninsula Tokyo

Certainly one of Tokyo’s most famous luxury hotels, The Peninsula Tokyo is blessed with a convenient location by the Ginza district. While not our favorite hotel in the city (there are so many other great properties), The Peninsula Tokyo remains popular among visitors to Tokyo.

The Prince Gallery Tokyo Kioicho

The Prince Gallery Tokyo Kioicho is a nice high-end hotel in the business district of Akasaka (not to be confused with historic Asakusa). We are not especially drawn to its location or style, which is attractive but not standout, though as a member of Marriott’s Luxury Collection, it’s quite popular with travelers using Bonvoy points.

The Ritz-Carlton, Tokyo

Located atop the Tokyo Midtown complex in Tokyo’s Roppongi district, The Ritz-Carlton, Tokyo is a classic luxury hotel in the heart of the city. It’s worth splurging on Club Floor rooms to be able to savor the Club Lounge. The surrounding Roppongi area is full of dining options, not to mention some of Tokyo’s best art offerings.

Club Lounge Ritz Carlton Tokyo Japan
Club Lounge at the Ritz-Carlton, Tokyo

The Tokyo EDITION, Ginza

Ian Schrager and Kengo Kuma have teamed up once again on The Tokyo EDITION, Ginza, a stylish luxury property located in the backstreets of the elegant Ginza. The hotel’s rooms and suites feature natural, calming tones. While the Ginza district is home to many of Tokyo’s best restaurants and bars, the hotel also boasts a destination cocktail bar, modern French restaurant, and rooftop wine bar.

The Tokyo EDITION, Toranomon

The Tokyo EDITION, Toranomon was the city’s first hotel designed by superstar hotelier Ian Schrager and iconic Japanese architect Kengo Kuma. While the Toranomon district remains rather sleepy, the location is highly central and convenient, with great access to all of central Tokyo and beyond. Enjoy spectacular views, and consider booking a room or suite with a private terrace.


Located just off Cat Street, a pedestrian-friendly street connecting the Shibuya and Harajuku neighborhoods, TRUNK(HOTEL) Cat Street remains one of the city’s most original design hotels. Formerly known simply as TRUNK, this boutique hotel was renamed following the opening of its sister property in Yoyogi (see below). TRUNK Cat Street tends to have a bit of a party atmosphere, which will come as no surprise when you pop in for a coffee or cocktail at its uber-stylish bar.

Trunk Hotel Tokyo Japan
The stylish TRUNK Hotel Tokyo (photo by Kensington Park CC BY-SA 4.0 )

TRUNK(HOTEL) Yoyogi Park

Located in Shibuya’s quiet and charming Tomigaya district, TRUNK(HOTEL) Yoyogi Park is an upscale boutique hotel. In contrast to its lively sister property (see above), TRUNK Yoyogi features a more subdued, relaxing atmosphere. Guest rooms and suites boast playful yet sophisticated design. In your downtime, enjoy views of the verdant Yoyogi Park from the 6th floor rooftop pool (heated for year-round enjoyment).

Yuen Bettei Daita

Just ten minutes on foot from the lively Shimokitazawa neighborhood, Yuen Bettei Daita offers relaxing accommodations in Tokyo’s quiet Setagaya-ku (Setagaya Ward). The mid-range property offers compact but attractive guest rooms, with soothing onsen (hot springs) on-site.

Best Boutique and Luxury Hotels in Kyoto

The hotel scene in Kyoto is booming, with exciting new openings every year.

The ancient capital is also home to some renowned traditional ryokans. However, for most travelers we typically suggest staying at a comfortable and convenient hotel while in Kyoto, and saving your ryokan experience for a sublime stay in the countryside (some of our favorites are below).

Here is a selection of our favorite boutique and luxury properties in Kyoto.

Ace Hotel Kyoto

Despite being an American brand, Ace Hotel Kyoto manages to feel properly Kyoto-esque, in a definitively contemporary way. Designed by architect Kengo Kuma, and located in the vibrant ShinPuhKan complex, Ace Kyoto is a great option for creative travelers seeking a modern Kyoto experience in a fantastic location.

Aman Kyoto Living Pavilion
Aman Kyoto’s lush grounds

Aman Kyoto

Aman Kyoto is a true retreat, located in a secluded section of northern Kyoto, about 15 minutes on foot from Kinkaku-ji (the Golden Pavilion). The Kerry Hill-designed pavilions feature an elegant blend of modern and traditional touches. While a bit removed from the sights, this is an excellent option for rejuvenation, with a wonderful spa and rejuvenating onsen, including open-air hot springs.

Four Seasons Hotel Kyoto

Located in Kyoto’s Higashiyama district, not far from the Kyoto National Museum, Four Seasons Hotel Kyoto is more or less on par with The Ritz-Carlton, Kyoto (see below) in terms of luxury. While not a boutique property, lovers of the Four Seasons will be happy at this luxurious hotel.

Genji Kyoto

A member of Design Hotels, Genji Kyoto is a friendly and unpretentious boutique hotel located in a quiet, non-touristy neighborhood near the Kamogawa (Kamo River). Though it is slightly removed from the hustle and bustle of central Kyoto, Genji Kyoto still provides relatively easy access to the ancient capital’s many highlights. In fine weather, enjoy the rooftop garden, which offers lovely river and mountain views.



HOSHINOYA Kyoto is a rejuvenating retreat for travelers seeking a relaxing experience. Access to the small resort, located in the Arashiyama district, is primarily by traditional wooden boat. While not necessarily ideal for travelers who plan to spend time actively exploring Kyoto, given its relatively remote location, HOSHINOYA Kyoto is one of the ancient capital’s most beautiful hotels.

Hotel Kanra Kyoto

One of Kyoto’s original boutique hotels, Hotel Kanra Kyoto offers attractive accommodations in the heart of the ancient capital. Kanra’s rooms and suites feature contemporary Japanese design along with modern comforts, and the hotel’s kind staff provides excellent service. While the city center location is not as charming as Kyoto’s historical districts, it offers seamless access to each corner of the city and beyond.

Hotel Kanra Kyoto
Hotel Kanra Kyoto, a lovely boutique hotel

Hotel The Mitsui Kyoto

Hotel The Mitsui Kyoto is a luxurious oasis located by Nijo-jo (Nijo Castle). Complementing splendid design by André Fu, the hotel boasts an elegant garden surrounded by its bar and restaurants, and a spa with soothing thermal springs.

Hyatt Regency Kyoto

Located just steps from Sanjusangen-do temple and the Kyoto National Museum, Hyatt Regency Kyoto offers comfortable accommodations, warm service, and convenient access to Kyoto’s many highlights.

Maana Kiyomizu

Maana Kiyomizu is an intimate 3-room property tucked away on a quiet residential street in Kyoto’s Higashiyama district. Within walking distance, you’ll find the Kyoto National Museum, Sanjusangen-do, as well as traditional sweet shops and welcoming cafes. Inspired by the understated elegance of traditional machiya townhouses, rooms are decorated in a soothing palate of earth tones, with decor fromPOJ Studio.

node hotel

The small and stylish node hotel, a member of Design Hotels, features unique artworks throughout its guest rooms and common spaces. The boutique property’s staff is helpful, its location is central and convenient, and the space often serves as a location for local art gatherings and events.

Park Hyatt Kyoto

Park Hyatt Kyoto is one of central Kyoto’s preeminent luxury hotels. The property boasts a privileged location in the heart of the historic Higashiyama district, overlooking the iconic Yasaka Pagoda and just steps from the bustling Ninenzaka street. The relaxing accommodations offer a peaceful haven to complement city explorations, and the hillside location affords spectacular views of Kyoto’s traditional skyline.

The Ritz-Carlton, Kyoto

The Ritz-Carlton, Kyoto has arguably the best location in the city, offering convenient access to both central Kyoto as well as the Higashiyama district. Located along the picturesque Kamogawa (Kamo River), the hotel’s low-rise design blends beautifully with its surroundings. We recommend splurging on a Grand Deluxe Kamogawa River View room — the views are worth it.

The Shinmonzen

Possibly the most sublime small hotel in Kyoto, The Shinmonzen is a stunning boutique property located on Shinmonzen-dori, a quiet traditional street in the historic Higashiyama. Overlooking the picturesque Shirakawa canal, the hotel features design by iconic architect Tadao Ando, and cuisine by Jean-Georges.

Sowaka Kyoto Japan


Sowaka is a high-end boutique property with a lovely location in the backstreets of Gion. A member of Small Luxury Hotels of the World, each of the hotel’s unique rooms and suites features authentically traditional elements and contemporary comforts.

Best Places to Stay in Japan Beyond Tokyo and Kyoto

Of course, many of Japan’s best boutique and luxury properties are not in Tokyo or Kyoto.

So to give you a taste of what to expect elsewhere in Japan, here is a short list of our favorite hotels and ryokans around the country.

A note about ryokans: while Japan has no shortage of amazing hotels, we highly recommend the ryokan experience for at least one or two nights. It’s one of the best ways to immerse yourself in Japanese culture, and a lovely way to experience Japan’s legendary hospitality.


Asaba is a luxurious ryokan with healing onsen (hot springs) and impeccable service. Located in the Izu Peninsula’s charming Shuzenji Onsen, it is also featured in our sample itinerary, Luxury Ryokans & the Japanese Countryside.

Local cuisine Azumi Setoda
Local cuisine at Azumi Setoda

Azumi Setoda

In recent years, Japan’s Setouchi region has become increasingly popular with travelers, thanks in great part to Naoshima (the “art island”) and, to a lesser degree, Onomichi and the Shimanami Kaido. The Seto Inland Sea and its many islands are often referred to as “Japan’s Mediterranean,” and with good reason: think citrus and olive oil, fresh seafood, pristine islands, and charming fishing villages.

On the small island of Setoda — a key stop along the Shimanami Kaido cycling route — you’ll find Azumi Setoda, a charming rural property spearheaded by Aman founder Adrian Zecha. Amanjunkies beware: this is a lovely property, but not quite luxurious in the Aman sense. On the other hand, it’s an appealing option for travelers who love unique, off-the-beaten-path properties in rural, traditional surroundings.

Beniya Mukayu

Located in the beautiful Hokuriku region (about an hour from historic Kanazawa), the modern-yet-traditional Beniya Mukayu is a wonderful option for travelers seeking an appealing balance of traditional Japanese hospitality and modern comforts. Enjoy splendid cuisine, soothing onsen (hot springs), and the option to relax or partake in authentic cultural activities.

Benesse House

While not a luxury hotel in the conventional sense, art and architecture lovers tend to fall in love with Benesse House. Designed by iconic Japanese architect Tadao Ando, the unique property doubles as a hotel and modern art museum, and is arguably the most interesting place to stay on Naoshima, Japan’s most famous art island.

Benesse House Museum and Hotel Naoshima Japan
Benesse House (Photo: Tadasu Yamamoto)

FUFU Kawaguchiko

FUFU Kawaguchiko offers a lovely balance of traditional elements with modern luxury. In clear weather, the property offers stunning views of Mount Fuji, and each suite features a soothing hot springs bath. Meals feature local and seasonal ingredients prepared in a modern kaiseki style.

Gora Kadan

One of a handful of Relais & Chateaux properties on this list, Gora Kadan is an old-fashioned ryokan housed in stunning historic surroundings. The property is located in the Gora area of mountainous Hakone on the grounds of a former Imperial summer villa. The service at Gora Kadan is highly traditional, and kaiseki meals are prepared utilizing seasonal ingredients.


guntû is a boutique cruise that leisurely traverses the scenic Seto Inland Sea. The small vessel features cabins with a modern Japanese aesthetic, and dining and sitting areas created to showcase the exquisite views of the surrounding landscape. On board guntû offers mouthwatering local cuisine, and during the day the cruise offers a variety of unique excursions oriented around daily life in the remote and laid-back islands of the Setouchi region.


The playful HOSHINOYA Fuji is located on a hillside overlooking Kawaguchiko (Lake Kawaguchi), with virtually uninterrupted views of the iconic Mount Fuji (clear conditions permitting). A self-proclaimed “glamping resort,” HOSHINOYA Fuji is perhaps more aptly described as a glamping-themed boutique hotel, offering a fun and peaceful escape to nature.


kishi-ke is a modern private ryokan located by the ocean in beautiful and historic Kamakura. The stylish property’s concept is chisoku, being fulfilled in the present moment. Functioning as a private villa, kishi-ke accommodates just one party at a time, giving you the chance to fully unwind as the only guests. Every aspect of the experience — from the thoughtful service (provided by Kishi-san, his wife, and their small team) to the property’s award-winning design and architecture, which complements the surrounding ocean and hills — is geared towards helping guests find tranquility in the now.

Masuichi Kyakuden

Deep in Nagano Prefecture, in the charming and historic town of Obuse, you’ll find the lovely Masuichi Kyakuden, a stylish boutique property featuring modern comforts with a tasteful local flair. This is a wonderful property for travelers who love unique, comfortable hotels with highly personalized service. Spend a couple of days or more exploring Obuse’s offerings (which include excellent sake, art museums, secret gardens, and the famed local chestnuts) and savoring the slow pace of life in the Japanese Alps.

Naoshima Ryokan ROKA

Naoshima Ryokan ROKA is a small luxury property featuring spacious Japanese-style suites. The materials are drawn from the Setouchi region, with earthen walls, handmade washi paper, and traditional tatami, and ROKA’s local seafood-focused cuisine is also a highlight in and of itself.

Nara Machiyado Kidera no ie

Run by a Nara-based family of architects, Kidera no Ie features beautifully renovated machiya townhouses. Each unit has a unique layout and provides the opportunity to submerse yourself in traditional Japanese culture without forgoing modern amenities. Its location in the quiet Naramachi district makes it especially appealing.

Nara Machiyado Kidera no ie

Nishimuraya Honkan

The most luxurious ryokan in the hot springs town of Kinosaki Onsen, Nishimuraya Honkan is an irresistible destination for lovers of kaiseki cuisine, rejuvenating onsen, and wonderful hospitality. Surrounded by beautiful gardens, and with a range of healing baths to enjoy, a stay at Nishimuraya Honkan is a delight.

Ryokan Kurashiki

Ryokan Kurashiki is an intimate property located along the canal in the historic center of Kurashiki, a town known for its textiles and pottery. The ryokan’s renovated guest rooms and suites feature a combination of Japanese decor, local antiques, and western-style comforts. The ryokan is famed for its traditional hospitality and exquisite cuisine.

Ryokan Kurashiki Japan
Ryokan Kurashiki, a wonderful traditional ryokan


Shiguchi offers guests the chance to disconnect, deep in the countryside of Niseko on the northern island of Hokkaido. Each luxurious villa boasts private hot springs, soothing views of the surrounding valley and forest, and meticulous design by local creative Shouya Grigg.


Kurokawa Onsen, deep in a remote section of Kyushu, is a beautiful getaway for onsen enthusiasts. Kurokawa is home to a handful of amazing ryokans, none more luxurious than the magnificent Takefue, which features an irresistible selection of Japanese-style suites.

Takefue Ryokan Kurokawa Onsen Kyushu Japan
Japanese luxury at Takefue Ryokan

The Ritz-Carlton, Fukuoka

The Ritz-Carlton, Fukuoka offers elegant accommodations in the heart of the trendy Daimyo district, with outstanding food and beverage options, an excellent spa, and views across Hakata Bay.

Wasure-no-sato Gajoen

In off-the-beaten path Kirishima, at the southern tip of rugged Kyushu, you’ll find countryside luxury at Wasure-no-sato Gajoen. With thatch-roofed buildings located in a tranquil setting along the Amorigawa (Amori River), Gajoen aims to recreate the atmosphere of an ancient hamlet. Each room features private onsen, and the farm-to-table dining showcases local Satsuma cuisine, with produce from the inn’s farms and gardens.


One of the original top-end luxury properties in Hokkaido’s Niseko area, Zaborin features spacious suites with private hot springs, fabulous cuisine, and minimalist design amidst the beautiful natural surroundings.

Looking for More Trip-Planning Inspiration?

Japan has too many outstanding accommodations to include in one list, but we hope this introduction to Japan’s best hotels and ryokans helps you as you plan your itinerary.

Looking for more inspiration? Don’t miss our article on the best luxury ryokans for a short Japan trip.

Free Japan Trip-Planning Resources

About Andres Zuleta

Andres founded Boutique Japan to share his passion and enthusiasm for Japan, and over the years he has had the opportunity to help countless wonderful travelers from around the world experience Japan in a truly personal and immersive way.