Hotels in Japan are a different ball game compared to other places throughout Asia. The vast majority is rather dated, although well maintained and generally very clean.
Rooms tend to be small which is an issue when travelling with larger pieces of luggage. We prefer to travel light with hand luggage only or duffel bags when on longer journeys as hardshell suitcases take up too much of the limited floor space. Also ensuite bathrooms can be very small, but we’ve never had any issue with the water pressure or temperature of the water.
Service is almost always super friendly and staff will go out of their way to help even with rather limited English language skills.
Whilst Japan has amazing high-end hotels with all the comforts, mod-cons and suites to rival the best in the world, this list does not include any of them. We paid around ¥15,000 – ¥25,000 (US$130 – US$220 | EUR115 – EUR190) per double room per night which might seem a lot compared to accommodation options in other Asian countries, but isn’t that much in Japan at all.
Please bear in mind that things can change quickly, prices go up and down and the quality of rooms/hotels change over time. We stayed in these places between 2019 and 2022.
Myoko Forest Lodge
Myoko, Niigata Prefecture (Honshu)
Run by an Australian husband and wife team, Myoko Forest Lodge is a gem and felt like a home away from home. We loved the minimalist rooms, great common area and fabulous food and hospitality plus the snow was unbelievable!
Nishitetsu Hotel Croom Nagoya
Nagoya, Aichi Prefecture (Honshu)
Nishitetsu Hotel Croom Nagoya is a Japanese business hotel done right. Centrally located and fairly new, offering modern rooms at a very good price. Great location, subway access. We wish there’d be more hotels like that.
Mascos Hotel Masuda Onsen
Masuda, Shimane (Honshu)
What a gem! We discovered Mascos Hotel Masuda Onsen on our long road trip through Western Honshu in December 2021 / January 2022 and it was a breath of fresh air after staying a string of rather mediocre rooms. Brand-new Mascos is beautiful, the use of concrete and wood throughout feels luxurious and grounding at the same time. Breakfast is served in the light filled restaurant on the ground floor which is buzzing with the local hip crowd in the evening.
Sierra Resort Yuzawa
Yuzawa, Niigata Prefecture (Honshu)
This hotel sits quite high up on a hill and right next to a ski slope and chairlift. The common areas are modern and airy, the bar feels intimate and cozy at night. Our room was larger than average, but somewhat dated. We’d stay there again despite the dated rooms as we loved the common areas, location and views.
My Lodge Naoshima
Naoshima, Kagawa Prefecture (Shikoku)
A lovely small lodge on a hillside, My Lodge Naoshima is located within walking distance from the ferry port. Our room with a little balcony overlooking the ocean was small, but super comfortable and modern. The restaurant downstairs serves great breakfasts and one of the best dinners in the area.
Shonai Hotel Suiden Terrasse
Tsuruoka, Yamagata Prefecture (Honshu)
What a place! Shonai Hotel Suiden Terrasse is an architectural masterpiece designed by award-winning Japanese architect Shigeru Ban. The light filled structure was built using vast amounts of wood, concrete and glass and sits in the middle of a rice field. We loved the spacious simplicity of the rooms, the lovely common areas (including a self-serve sake on tap bar) and the farm-to-table food in the restaurant.
Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture (Honshu)
Noku Kyoto is a great place from where to discover all that Kyoto has to offer. Located right above a subway station and with a bus stop across the road, most of the city’s sights are in easy reach. The hotel is new, the rooms large and beautifully appointed. We loved the personal touches of local snacks and treats that were waiting for us when we arrived.
Solest Takachiho Hotel
Takachiho, Miyazaki Prefecture (Kyushu)
We really enjoyed our stay at Solest Takachiho. The fairly new hotel is centrally located and offers modern and comfortable rooms. Takachiho Gorge, the main attraction, is just down the road, about 20 min walk away.
Hotel Alegria Gardens Amakusa
Amakusa, Kumamoto Prefecture (Kyushu)
Alegria Gardens Amakusa is a hotel and wedding venue. The common areas and larger than (Japan-) average rooms could do with a bit of a refresh, but are clean and well maintained. The biggest draw is the hotel’s location – perched at the edge of the water, the views are amazing and there are plenty of options for coastal walks nearby.
Lake Biwa Otsu Prince Hotel
Otsu, Shiga Prefecture (Honshu)
We usually prefer staying in small and intimate hotels, we chose this hotel for it’s great view across Lake Biwa, the largest fresh water lake in Japan. Located right at the edge of the lake, the location is a perfect starting point for long walks along the waterfront.