MUST READ – Where to stay in Hakone (2019)

In this guide on where to stay in Hakone, Japan we cover the 5 best areas by style & budget. Most places have access to beautiful onsen...

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Just 100 kilometers to the west of Tokyo lies Hakone. A complete night and day difference from the monstrous, buzzing metropolis of Tokyo, Hakone is famous for its tranquil and traditional natural hot springs.

Hakone is part of the Fuji-Hakone-Izu National park, so you can relax in nature and gaze across the serene Lake Ashinoko at Mount Fuji.

This is also a great base for hiking and outdoor activities; it’s magnificent to visit year-round. Cherry blossoms bloom in the spring, trees turn golden in the fall, and snow falls in the winter.

We wrote this guide on where to stay in Hakone so you can figure out which area or neighborhood is best suited for your interests and budget.

Because of its beautiful natural setting, Hakone is hugely popular with Japanese weekenders and international tourists alike.

You’ll definitely want to book your accommodation ahead of time, so it’s best to do your research now.

Many of our recommendations have access to a private or nearby Hakone onsen – traditional Japanese hot spring – so you can “soak in” this relaxing, Japanese tradition in style.

Read on to learn about the 5 best areas in Hakone, Japan.

 

Quick Tips – Where to Stay in Hakone

  • Where to stay in Hakone for the first time – Tonosawa
  • Where to stay in Hakone on a budget – Hakone-Yumoto
  • Where to stay in Hakone for Nature – Motohakone
  • Most beautiful place to stay in Hakone – Gora
  • Best neighborhood in Hakone for families – Sengokuhara

 

In a hurry? Here’s my top neighborhood for first timers:

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Tonosawa
The area of Tonosawa, with its perfect spot next to the river, is where to stay in Hakone for anyone wanting a more secluded, mountainous holiday.
Places to Visit:
  • Eat traditional soba (buckwheat noodles) at Soma
  • Try a bit of ziplining at Forest Adventure Hakone
  • Get lunch at Kinjiro’s Rice and Makunochi Bento

 

Where to Stay in Hakone

Don’t mind what area of town you stay in Hakone? Well, take a look at our top picks for accommodation below…

 

Best Hostel in Hakone: K’s House Hakone – Onsen Hostel

Hostels in Japan aren’t quite like anywhere else, and this one comes with its very own onsen. Unwind in the onsen – a traditional Japanese hot spring bath – after a day spent hiking in the nearby hills.

The atmosphere is relaxed but fun, and it’s a fantastic place to meet new friends. The dorms are neat and clean, and there’s a kitchen to make meals in.

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Best Hotel in Hakone: Mount View Hakone

Surround yourself with nature in this hotel with amazing views of Mount Fuji. This is our pick for the best hotel with a Japanese onsen.

Enjoy time in the hotel’s special onsen and choose from either open-air or indoors baths.

Rooms are spacious and immaculate; if you choose a deluxe room you even get a small onsen in your room! The bus stop is just outside the hotel, making the location very convenient for travelling around the sights.

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Best Apartment in Hakone: Hotel Hakone Terrace Annex

Hotel Hakone Terrace Annex offers air-conditioned apartments with a fully equipped kitchen, balcony and free WiFi. This is an excellent valued accommodation in Hakone for groups and families.

The location is also very convenient, as you are close to the train station, restaurants and bars, and a four minute walk from Hakone Gora Park.

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Neighborhood Guide to Hakone

Quick Summary: The Best Places to Stay in Hakone

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Tonosawa

  • The area of Tonosawa, with its perfect spot next to the river, is where to stay in Hakone for anyone wanting a more secluded, mountainous holiday.

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Hakone-Yumoto

  • This town is the gateway to Hakone and as a result has also become the area’s tourist centre, featuring a whole plethora of shops, hotels, restaurants, museums, and people dressed in 19th-century Edo period costumes.

Check Top HostelCheck Top Hoteltbbn-table__image

Motohakone

  • This is the main section of Hakone proper and one which features the area’s most famous sights, the prime two of which are Mount Fuji (this area arguably has the best views), Lake Ashinoko, and Mount Hakone.

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Gora

  • Gora is surrounded by beautiful natural landscapes, which is great for outdoor onsen and therefore perfect for city-dwellers looking for a slice of countryside. It can be reached via the Hakone Ropeway, which is quite an adventure in itself.

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Sengokuhara

  • The large area of Sengokuhara, to the north of Hakone, is a wonderland of natural beauty and outdoor activities. There are hills here that offer amazing views across a romantic and awe-inspiring landscape; long suzuki grass covers the hillsides becoming a spectacle as the seasons change, particularly in the autumn months.

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Just 100 kilometres to the west of Tokyo lies Hakone, part of Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park. Visitors flock to the area to bathe in Hakone’s famous natural hot springs and to gaze across the serene Lake Ashinoko at the ever-impressive Mount Fuji.

Because of its stunning natural setting Hakone has over time become a hugely popular tourist destination: Tokyoites enjoy weekend breaks in the clean country air away from the rush of the city.

The area is beautiful year-round – in the spring cherry blossom frames images of Fuji and as the seasons change the trees turn golden and then snowfall builds a magical winter landscape.

Most visitors to Hakone make the relatively short train ride from the centre of Tokyo to arrive and then hop on the small local trains that ferry passengers around the area. But what where should you stay in Hakone overnight?

We start with Tonosawa, a small area served by a train station of the same name on the way to the centre of Hakone. Nestled in the arms of a picturesque valley, and located in the east of this region, this area is renowned for its hot spring resorts. It’s a quieter place to base yourself on a trip to Hakone.

Bordering Tonosawa to the east is the relatively large area of Hakone-Yumoto: the gateway to Hakone. Though not very far from Tonosawa, Hakone-Yumoto has more shops, temples, shrines and things to see.

At Hakone’s centre, however, there’s Motohakone, which features the main bulk of sightseeing activities in the area, including Lake Ashinoko and Mount Hakone itself.

To the northwest of Motohakone is the region’s main town area of Gora. This area features more shops and urban amenities than other areas, including parks, a selection of hotels, and a number of restaurants.

And lastly, there’s Sengokuhara. Located to the north of Gora this large area features its own small mountains, a slew of hotels, restaurants, museums, golf courses, and a country club.

All the areas in and around Hakone are beautiful, but some are quieter than others whilst some are better for hiking and tranquillity. Let’s explore them in more detail…

 

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5 Best Areas to Stay in Hakone

A mountainous valley full of hiking opportunities, Hakone is famous for its views of Mount Fuji reflected in the waters of Lake Ashinoko.

Aside from the natural wonders, however, Hakone is filled with opportunities for luxury getaways, with many top-class onsen resorts dotting the area.

To get around, the Hakone Rail Pass is invaluable to anyone who wants to see all of what this city has to offer.

There are many things to do in the area Hakone aside from onsens and natural beauty, including museums, temples, and restaurants.

Let’s run through the top five areas of Hakone and see if you can find one that reflects you and your budget best.

 

1. Tonosawa – Where to Stay in Hakone for a Secluded Holiday

The area of Tonosawa, with its perfect spot next to the river, is where to stay in Hakone for anyone wanting a more secluded, mountainous holiday.

Here you can dip into one of several onsen, for which Tonosawa is famous, among the stunning views.

The atmosphere in this small town to the east of Hakone is exquisitely charming. With its old wooden houses lining the streets and peaceful atmosphere, this is a slice of old traditional Japan.

Tonosawa, Hakone

source: ?64 (Wikicommons)

 

Things to See and Do in Tonosawa

– Eat traditional soba (buckwheet noodles) at Soma.

– Try a bit of ziplining at Forest Adventure Hakone.

– Climb Mount Tonomine…

– … And admire the Buddhist temple of Amidaji halfway up.

– Check out the charming unmanned Tonosawa Station sandwiched between two tunnels.

– Get lunch at Kinjiro’s Rice and Makunochi Bento.

 

Affordable Hotel in Tonosawa: Senki

In place of a hostel, you can stay in this budget hotel with its very reasonable rooms. Choose from clean Western-style rooms or traditional tatami (Japanese-style straw mat) rooms; both come with private bathrooms and views of the stunning mountainside.

There’s a delicious breakfast served in the rooms every morning and its onsen are well maintained and perfect for relaxation.

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Best Hotel in Tonosawa: Fukuzumiro Ryokan

There’s nothing quite like staying in a ryokan (traditional Japanese inn), especially one that was built over 100 years ago. Treat yourself to a world of Japanese hospitality and comfort; this is the kind of hotel you will never forget.

The traditional inn sits alongside the Hayakawa river, which you can hear as you sleep on tatami. Bathrooms are shared, but there are some incredible traditional onsen for you to try out. This is the best ryokan with a private onsen.

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2. Hakone-Yumoto – Where to Stay in Hakone on a Budget

This town is the gateway to Hakone and as a result has also become the area’s tourist centre, featuring a whole plethora of shops, hotels, restaurants, museums, and people dressed in 19th-century Edo period costumes.

Staying here is convenient for a quick trip into Hakone from Tokyo since its the closest area in Hakone to the capital. There’s more going on here at night than any other area and the hot springs in Hakone-Yumoto are particularly famous.

Hakone-Yumoto, Hakone

source: jreika (Shutterstock)

 

Things to See and Do in Hakone-Yumoto

– Choose from a selection of outdoor pools in the beautiful and traditional Tenzan Onsen.

– Learn about the area at the Hakone Town History Museum.

– Check out the antique toys and models on show at the Antique Toy Museum.

– Try out glass-blowing at the Glass Art Experience Workshop, close to the train station.

– Pay your respects at Kumano Shrine, one of the oldest in the area.

– Try and buy some sweet and tender traditionally made tofu at Hagino Tofu.

– Walk a section of the Old Tokaido Road – the ancient walking route between Tokyo and Kyoto.

 

Best Hostel in Hakone-Yumoto: GuestHouse Azito

Close to the train station and bus stop, this budget hotel and hostel is the perfect place for budget travelers. Everything is very clean – even the shared bathrooms. Guests have the choice of private rooms or really well-designed bunk beds in the dorm.

Staff will welcome you and give you recommendations for what bars and restaurants to try out in the town.

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Best Hotel in Hakone-Yumoto: Yumoto Fujiya Hotel

Nested among green trees, this hotel sits just across from the main train station. It’s accessed by walking across a traditional red bridge.

Staff are very helpful with anything guests might need and serve excellent evening meals. The rooms here are large. Spend some time before bed in the onsen and then wrap up warm in the yukata (Japanese pajamas) provided.

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3. Motohakone – Where to Stay in Hakone for Nature

This is the main section of Hakone proper and one which features the area’s most famous sights, the prime two of which are Mount Fuji (this area arguably has the best views), Lake Ashinoko, and Mount Hakone. As a result, this area is often – especially during the holidays – busy with tourists.

This area can be quite pricey – especially the lakeside onsen, which are of course stunning. But it’s the beauty of the area – the lake’s shores, volcanic valleys, and hiking trails – make everything, including the price, worth it.

Motohakone, Hakone

 

Things to See and Do in Motohakone

– Ride the Hakone Ropeway and marvel at the incredible vistas it affords.

– Take a pirate ship (honestly) sightseeing cruise on the lake for great views of Fuji.

– Check out the recreation of an Edo-period Tokaido Highway Checkpoint.

– Visit the former Imperial Summer Palace.

– Take the funitel up to the awesome volcanic valley of Owakudani…

– … And try a kuro-tamago, an egg with a black shell boiled in the volcanic water!

– Eat from a delicious and eclectic menu at the cute Bakery and Table restaurant.

– Take a stroll around Hakone-en, a lakeside wetland garden with woodland plants.

– Go to the Peace torii (shrine gate).

– Visit the less touristed Hakone Shrine.

– Admire the beautiful Japanese paintings on show at Narukawa Art Museum.

 

Affordable Hotel in Motohakone: Moto-Hakone Guest House

Tucked away in the hills behind Motohakone is this family-run guest house. If you’re looking for a ryokan in Hakone that doesn’t break the bank, try out the ryokan-style accommodation on a budget (great for backpackers) and enjoy spending time with the owners, soaking in the onsen and sleeping in yukata on tatami mats.

The area, close to the lake and museum, is very peaceful – ideal for delving into the Japanese lifestyle.

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Best Hotel in Moto: Hakone Villa Bizan

With balconies that look over the lake, this charming hotel is in the best location for a bit of peace and quiet. The owners will make sure your stay goes smoothly and help you with local recommendations.

Rooms are decorated in a warm, modern style and there is a restaurant and bar downstairs to enjoy in the evening.

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4. Gora – One of the Most Beautiful Places to Stay in Hakone

Specifically created to be an onsen town – hot springs were discovered here as the railroad was being built in the early 20th-century – Gora is one of the most popular places to stay in Hakone. Hotels in Gora get very busy (so book in advance), but this also means that the town itself has quite a bustling energy to it.

Gora is surrounded by beautiful natural landscapes, which is great for outdoor onsen and therefore perfect for city-dwellers looking for a slice of countryside. It can be reached via the Hakone Ropeway, which is quite an adventure in itself.

Gora, Hakone

source: Hamdan Yoshida (Shutterstock)

 

Things to See and Do in Gora

– Chill out at the Hakone Gora Park with its pretty rose garden, tropical greenhouse, and fountain.

– Stop for traditional tea at the tea house here.

– Go to the Hakone Art Museum and admire its beautiful moss gardens.

– Take a look at the Hakone Museum of Photography celebrating the natural beauty of the area.

– Grab a coffee whilst you’re there!

– Eat traditional-style tonkatsu (pork cutlet with egg and rice) at Tamura Ginkatsu-Tei.

– Glimpse into the past at Hakone Meissen Antique Museum.

– People-watch in the morning at Cafe Meissen near Gora Station.

 

Affordable Hotel in Gora: Hakone Guest House Gaku

Experience Japanese culture and meet new people in this fun guesthouse. Rooms a large, neat and clean with soft futon beds.

The shared living room means space to relax and have a chat with fellow travellers; plus the rooftop terrace has incredible panoramic views of the area.

The local railway station is close by and you can keep costs low by sharing the dorm-like tatami space with your friends.

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Best Hotel in Gora: Hakone Gora Kanon

Newly decorated and very comfortable, this warm and welcoming hotel offers the ideal mix of fantastic location and modern Japanese design.

Sitting just on the banks of the river, guests can spend time relaxing in the stone rooms or enjoying onsen with views that look out over the treetops.

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5. Sengokuhara – Where to Stay in Hakone for Families

The large area of Sengokuhara, to the north of Hakone, is a wonderland of natural beauty and outdoor activities. There are hills here that offer amazing views across a romantic and awe-inspiring landscape; long suzuki grass covers the hillsides becoming a spectacle as the seasons change, particularly in the autumn months.

This is a great area to truly take in the flora and fauna of Hakone.

There are also golf courses for those interested in a game, as well as many Japanese cottages and hotels set away from the more touristed places further south.

Don’t expect big shopping areas and restaurants: the isolated tranquility in nature here comes without the crowds that go with it in Sengokuhara.

Sengokuhara, Hakone

source: Seiya Ishibashi (Flickr)

 

Things to See and Do in Sengokuhara

– Visit the subterranean Pola Museum of Art – also offering a serene forest trail.

– Gaze upon the Susuki Grass Fields, which are particularly known for their beauty in autumn.

– Browse the jewellery and glassworks at Lalique Museum Hakone.

– Try some very good sushi with interesting options (and an English menu) at Hakone Sushi.

– Go to the Little Prince Museum honoring 100 years of the book and its author.

– Stroll around Hakone Botanical Garden of Wetlands.

– Eat delicious baked goods, including egg tarts, at Hakone Rusk.

– Play a spot of golf at Hakone Country Club.

– Chill out at the parkland of Sengokuhara Plateau.

 

Best Hostel in Sengokuhara: Japan Countryside

With its amazingly helpful and kind staff, this guesthouse stands out above others in the area. The owners here will go out of their way to make sure your stay is the best it can be.

Located just across the road from a bus stop, it’s easy to travel around Hakone from here.

The rooms are simple but clean and come with views of the mountains. The guesthouse also has a cafe so you don’t have to go far to grab some tasty food.

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Best Hotel in Sengokuhara: Hakone Sengokuhara Prince Hotel

For a hotel room with scenic rooms, this hotel is perfect. The staff at this hotel are friendly and will help you with directions around Hakone.

There is a shuttle service for guests to the main train station, which is convenient for those travelling in groups or with family. The rooms on offer are nice, of course, but it’s the onsen here that are spectacular; they have been newly remodelled and the baths have the most amazing views.

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Final Thoughts on Where to Stay in Hakone

Nestled among some of Japan’s most beautiful places and settings – the nearby mountains, lakes, and onsen – Hakone is one of the most beautiful and relaxing stops on any Japan trip.

Still not sure where to stay in Hakone?

K’s House Hakone – Onsen Hostel is the best hostel in this area and even includes an onsen. It includes a communal kitchen, clean dorms, and a relaxed atmosphere.

Mount View Hakone is our top pick for the best hotel in Hakone because of its special onsen, open-air and indoors baths, and spectacular views. The deluxe rooms even include small onsen! 

Have you been to Hakone? Let us know in the comments!

Don’t forget to sort your travel insurance! We’ve put together a roundup of the best travel insurance for backpackers – check it out here, or if you’re low on time, get a quote from World Nomads now, our favourite travel insurance provider.

 

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