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Hoshinoya Karuizawa
Karuizawa

Like the original property in Kyoto, Hoshinoya Karuizawa seeks to combine the best of traditional Japanese ryokan hospitality with luxury modern comforts and dining. This killer combination has been successfully created here, as the retreat has many traditional elements - from a well-manicured zen garden to authentic hot spring onsens with mineral-rich soothing water, as well as more Westernised elements - such as comfortable futon beds that sit on raised platforms in the villa-like pavilions.

Located just an hour by bullet train from Tokyo, it is a great mini-break for well-heeled Tokyo-ites and one of the finest places for foreign visitors to stay while making their way through the Japan Alps. Enjoy this unspoiled rural area that offers complete immersion in a serene environment and an idyllic spot for bird watching. We recommend soaking in a cedar wood bath in your spacious lakeside villa while gazing out at the mountain forest scene to embrace this location to its full effect. Or, if you’re in need of even more pampering, the spa offers Japanese shiatsu massage treatments in an equally scenic and calm atmosphere.

The accommodation is an architectural feat best described as a collection of modern Japanese ryokans. The beautiful Mizunami pavilions sit upon the river banks, while the bigger Niwarajoi villas sit among the Japanese garden making them an ideal choice for families. Yamaroji pavilions are set within the wild bird sanctuary so would suit nature lovers best.

Enjoy a luxurious 12-course ‘kaiseki’ traditional feast made with local, fresh ingredients at Kasuke restaurant, or French cuisine with Japanese accents at Bleston Court. Note that dinners are not included, and Wi-fi is available in the lobby area but not the villas.

As is typical of Hoshinoya properties, the service here is of an excellent quality. Friendly and amenable staff are at hand to help and speak fluent English, so you will always feel very well looked after during your stay. You can also try your hand at traditional Japanese cultural activities here, for the resort offers experiences and workshops to guests of all ages – choose between a selection of workshops, such as soba noodle making classes. For more active visitors, many hiking, horse riding and cycling routes can be found in the countryside that surrounds this gem of a hotel.

>> See more of our Ryokon Hotels here

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I can't think of anything that excites a greater sense of childlike wonder than to be in a country where you are ignorant of almost everything.
Bill Bryson