Pulling into the Hakone station in the Romance Car was an unforgettable experience as was the walk through the quaint station towards the hotel. Thanks to my husband's iPhone we were able to locate the whereabouts of the hotel (it is very close to the station - will get back to that) but we had to stand like lost tourists (which we actually were, in a sense!) because we couldn't figure out which one of the buildings in the narrow street was the hotel. Thankfully, a kind passer-by noticed our predicament and pointed us in the right direction - we were standing right next to the hotel! A sign (even a tiny one) in English would have been nice.
The hotel itself is very home-ey. It was quaint, quiet and neat. It's an old building and I was pretty sure that we would have to drag our suitcases through three flights of stairs - but surprisingly (thankfully) they had a lift and we were spared the work out!
The gentleman who checked us in were very stoic, but pleasant. The lady, however, was super cheerful and bubbly and we felt very welcome.
The rooms have a small door (they write your names on name plates!) but once you enter it is impossible to not gasp a little. The tatami mats, the low ceiling, the black table, the lights...wow..it is imprinted in my memory! The bathrooms were tiiiiiny, but convenient. Thankfully, they have a small area outside the restroom with a basin, a mirror and plug points.
Now to the most exciting part of staying here - the onsen! You can choose between the private and the public onsens - we chose the private one. It was AMAZING. Seriously, you almost tread respectfully around the place! There's a small stone area for washing up before entering the onsen and the onsen itself is a beautiful jacuzzi-like pool of HOT, almost scalding water.
We went in at night, so we could only hear the river. But, if you closed your eyes and just sat there in the onsen it's easy to become meditative. I was a bit uncomfortable with the very open side of the onsen room (kept imagining someone with telescopic lens hiding in the mountains on the other end) but, it's quite far away and I was submerged in the onsen anyway!
Back to the room, at around 10pm we had a couple of hotel helpers come in and lay our beds. They worked with great precision and professionalism. Didn't linger in the room for even a second more than needed. The beds are sooooo comfy (you have to sleep on the floor, btw, on the mattresses they give) and call it the effect of the very hot water onsen experience, the zero sound of vehicles or the gentle flow of the river behind us, I slept like I hadn't slept in a very very long time!
In the morning, when I opened our window I gasped, again! The view of the river is absolutely breathtaking! Spent quite some time just enjoying the view with my husband!
Now, to another specialty - the breakfast spread. A lovely lady gently invited us for our breakfast. So, we go into another room and there's this big table (the kind where you have to sit on the floor) with traditional Japanese dishes. We were like, how are we ever going to eat all this! We did and even had second helpings! The lady kindly explained every dish to us, demonstrated how to eat them, explained where they came from, how it was cooked, had a genuine conversation with us and politely left us to have our breakfast. It is an experience to remember!
Coming back to the bit about it being near the station - at one point we realized that it was almost time for our train. We checked out and ran with our luggage to the station and thankfully, we caught it just in time! We were so happy that we chose this hotel because it was so close to the station!
We loved staying here, everything about this hotel was amazing!
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