Culturally speaking, Kanazawa is one of the richest places in Japan, but it is short on great hotels. The Beniya Mukayu, in historic Yamashiro Onsen is less than an hour away and provides the perfect place to stay. Like our other favourite Ryokans – the Hoshinoya in Kyoto and Gora Kadan in Hakone – the Beniya successfully combines modern elegance and comforts with the traditional Ryokan experience.
Upon arrival, you will be instantly greeted into a light and airy spacious lobby, which provides a welcome relief from the usual shadows cast by the dark woods in most Ryokans! Despite this modern take, you will still experience the authentic Old Japan Ryokan culture here, from wearing yukata kimono robes to sleeping on futon beds during your stay. Also, in keeping with true traditional aesthetics, the 17 rooms of the Ryokan are fitted with authentic tatami-mats. The added luxuries of private open-air onsen baths and views of the magnificent ornamental garden are a huge plus. The picturesque greenery that surrounds the ryokan lends a zen-like, tranquil feel especially as a teahouse sits in the heart of the manicured garden, harmoniously balanced with a modern sculpture.
You are bound to experience immaculate service at this Ryokan – on top of ‘omotenashi’, the attentive yet discreet customer care that Japan is renowned for, you will be treated to the typical high-end hotel hospitality of a Relais Chateux property.
Nakamichi-san, the owner, is a tea master and guests can share the tea ceremony experience with him here. The public areas are minimalist yet inviting, with an art installation by Satoru Matsuzaki, CEO of Muji. Excellent 'kaiseki' seasonal cuisine is served in a western-style restaurant with a sun terrace looking down into the garden copse. In typical Japanese fashion, this dinner is an intricate multi-course ritual - complete with platters of varying colours and flavors, depending on the season and local delicacies – so will certainly be memorable.
A private stairway and lift provide direct access to the iconic bath house of Yamashiro Onsen with its healing mineral-rich waters, but it is the atmospheric ryokan itself and the exceptional service of several English-speaking staff that are the real highlights.