1. Noku, Kyoto
Kyoto was the capital of imperial Japan 1,200 years ago. Although the official capital is now Tokyo, the former city has established itself as the country’s cultural hub, and is home to many UNESCO World Heritage sites. Explore the traditional city while staying in a modern space at the new Noku Kyoto boutique hotel. A five-minute walk from the Kyoto Imperial Palace, the property has teamed up with Sumiya Kiho-an Hotel, a traditional Japanese ryokan a 40-minute drive away. After a city break, guests who book the onsen package will be transported to Sumiya Kiho-An, where they can enjoy both the public and private bathhouses. Post onsen, you can savour a kaiseki-style lunch.
2. Amanemu, Shima-shi
Overlooking Ago Bay, the latest property by the Aman group is set within Ise-Shima National Park in the south-western part of Honshu island. Many of Japan’s ancient pilgrimage routes and shrines are located nearby, including the UNESCO World Heritage-designated Kumano Kodo trails. The hotel houses nutrient-rich hot springs that are set within serene natural surroundings.
3. Hoshinoya, Tokyo
Tokyo, one of the buzziest cities in the world, has no dearth of luxury hotels. But the latest entrant, Hoshinoya (above), effortlessly combines traditional and contemporary influences in its downtown property. Each of its 17 floors are, in fact, ryokans – traditional Japanese guesthouses – except at this property, the interiors and facilities are understated and modern. The best-kept secret at this city hotel is its hidden natural hot spring, which was discovered in 2014. Apparently, a dip in its alkaline waters reduces fatigue and has revitalising effects. The hotel also offers gourmet dining and a walking tour guided by a local culture historian to ancient sights and monuments in Tokyo.
Adapted from Silver Kris.