Despite its proximity to Tokyo, the KAI Hakone offers a complete contrast to the hectic pace of the capital city. The hotel sits at the bottom of the Sukumo River Valley surrounded by volcanic peaks and deep green forest and although modern in design with huge light-flooding windows, it offers guests the traditional ryokan experience, along with both indoor and outdoor onsen bathing. The staff are welcoming and the service is both friendly and obliging.
While Western rooms are available, we’d recommend staying in one of the spacious Japanese suites. Large picture windows and balconies offer magnificent forest and river views. Expect tatami mat flooring, seating area, low frame beds and furniture, en-suite bathroom, flat-screen TV, yukatas (Japanese-style kimono robes), air-conditioning, and fridge. The most popular rooms are KAI Signature Rooms, which include local Hakone marquetry and artworks.
The hotel offers a Japanese breakfast and dinner, and kaiseki dining, involving a series of beautifully presented and delicious courses crafted from seasonal premium ingredients. Do try the classic Hakone dish of broth-boiled beef and vegetables. Meals are served in your room and while there is no bar, in-room fridges are stocked with water and beer.
Fed by 1,200-year-old hot springs, the hotel offers both indoor and outdoor onsen bathing, where you can soak in baths lined with ancient hinoki cypress wood, to the gentle sound of the burbling river. There is also the opportunity to try your hand at the traditional craft of parquetry. KAI Hakone also has a small travel library, shop selling quality souvenirs and a tranquil lounge to relax in.