We wanted to stay at a higher-end ryokan and picked Nishimuraya Honkan because of its reputation online and travel materials we read had great things to say about the ryokan. We stayed one night and ordered the seasonal kaiseki dinner + breakfast. We weren't disappointed!
Upon arrival, we were greeted with a staff member who spoke English very well. He provided a very helpful explanation of the room, how to wear a yutaka, our bath house passes, customs, etc. All-in-all his explanations were invaluable to us (two relatively clueless tourists about to experience our first onsen experience).
Upon checking into our room, we were wow'd by the size of the unit and view. There was an amazing garden view from the main room which also had an adjoining tea room/solarium overlooking the a cool waterfall in the garden. There was a bathroom en suite -- nice to not have to share with others at this price range.
Location: the hotel is located at what appears to be towards the end of the main strip. There really is only two main arteries in Kinosaki Onsen so it's pretty hard to get lost. Once we got off the train, a tourist information staff person immediately knew we were tourists and offered to help us... all in English, so smooth sailing from there!
Facilities: the ryokan has two onsite bathing areas -- not sure if they are the same onsen or separate ones. Technicalities aside, the two bathing areas are designated either male or female and then switched up later so the guests have an opportunity to try both. There's an onsite museum with very very cool artifacts and historical pieces. Apparently, there's history behind the ryokan... we hear it's over a hundred years old and survived a major earthquake that wiped out most of Kinosaki Onsen. There's a spa at a sister property. We didn't get a chance to check out the sister property but it looked pretty enticing from the marketing brochures.
Service: very thoughtful service. They provide everything you need to start your onsen experience, including a pass, yutakas, wooden slippers, two towels (large and small), socks, etc. Just show up and start onsen hopping. The staff was super friendly as well.
Kaiseki dinner: really awesome minus the sashimi. They set up dinner in your room -- lovely experience having dinner brought to you. I have a sea crab allergy (imagine that visiting Kinosaki) but the staff was very accommodating... no allergies the next day! The courses were very well done, everything from the steamed fish, appetizers, apertif etc. Flavors came together well, great presentation, all-in-all every thing was great. The sashimi (raw platter) was "ok" (caveat, we're foodies, so our standards may be a bit picky). My partner also found a friendly critter in her sushi garnish. We brought this to the server's attention. They immediately gave us a replacement platter and the manager provided a free beverage voucher for the lobby bar. We also felt a bit rushed throughout the whole thing ... the courses rolled out quickly and I felt like we were barely keeping up.
Bed: We slept great! Who would've thought Japanese futons could be so comfortable. They set up the futons after clearing out the room we had dinner in.
Breakfast: wonderful, no complaints. Ours was Japanese style, though I believe there's a western option as well. Again, they bring breakfast right to your room.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Nishimuraya Honkan is a traditional Japanese ryokan, located in the famouse hot spring town of Kinosaki Onsen, near Kyoto/Osaka. Our ryokan has more than 150 years of history and was selected as "best onsen ryokan" in Japan by Lonely Planet and is also listed in the Michelin Guide. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Nishimuraya Honkan Hotel Toyooka
- Kinosaki Onsen Nishimuraya Honkan Japan/Toyooka, Hyogo