Kinosaki Onsen Ryokan – The dreamy town of Kinosaki Onsen is only 2.5 hours away from Kyoto, but based on its fantasy-like atmosphere and gorgeous historic building structures, it may as well be worlds away.
Hidden off the beaten path of hot spring towns that foreigners generally tend to visit, there is an air of nostalgia here that’s heightened by the lack of crowds, visitors quietly exploring on foot in their gorgeous yukata and geta (traditional Japanese robes and wooden sandals), weeping branches of trees hanging across the town’s river, and of course, the romantic illumination of the town after dark.
The old-school aesthetic of this town is the main draw. Time slows down at this place, and people find that the simple task of going for a stroll can immediately put people in a good mood.
This is also a popular location for couples who are looking for a romantic getaway, as what can set the scene more than dressing up in gorgeous yukata, walking underneath the weeping willows hand in hand, taking in a beautiful night scene of lit up ryokans and canals.
If you’re planning to visit this onsen town, chances are, you’ll want to stay in a traditional Japanese inn. Whilst we cannot cover every ryokan, we’ve listed below 12 gorgeous Japanese inns for an unforgettable stay.
They range in size, price, and location, so we’re sure there will be one listed here that’s perfect for anyone reading this article.
The 11 Best Ryokans in Kinosaki Onsen
Here is our selection of the best Japanese traditional inns in the lovely onsen town of Kinosaki. You will be able to check them out one by one below.
- Nishimura Honkan
- Nishimuraya Hotel Shogetsutei
- Hanakouji Saigetsu
- Kinosaki Yamamotoya
- Onishiya Suishoen
- Tsubakino Ryokan
- Yuraku Kinosaki Spa & Gardens
- Utsuroi Tsuchiya Annex
Described as one of the top picks in this onsen village, Morizuya is an authentic traditional inn that offers a premium ryokan experience. From the undivided attention from the host family, to the enviable location along the mountainside, to the spacious rooms that have been immaculately furnished, to the public indoor and outdoor onsen available to all guests – this one just ticks all the boxes.
What’s more, the ryokan also boasts a superb traditional kaiseki meal is served for dinner in the privacy of your guest rooms using only the freshest local ingredients, and if privacy is your thing, you can even book the onsite onsen baths for private use during the weekday if you’d like!
Guest Tips: If you stay overnight here, you will receive a pass to enter all 7 onsen baths around town during your stay. If you’re all dressed up with your traveling partner but have no one to take photos of you, simply ask the kind host! They will willingly oblige and will go all out to get the best pics for you.
Book It Now: Morizuya Ryokan
2. Nishimuraya Honkan
Looking for the ultimate luxury ryokan experience? Want an accommodation that is fit for royalty? Seeking something that is unapologetically Japanese but at the same time exudes opulence like no other?
If you’ve said yes or one or more of the above, then you will need to book Nishimuraya Honkan – and way in advance if you can!
This 5-star ryokan accommodation right in the centre of Kinosaki Onsen is an absolute bombshell. It boasts a history that is more than 150 years old, a gorgeous Japanese garden that rivals that of Kenrokuen and Korokuen, and is fitted like it has come straight out of a 1800s lifestyle magazine.
Onsite it boasts a gallery that features prominent traditional artwork, its meals tend to fluctuate between premium wagyu beef or fresh crab (depending on the season), and once you step foot into one of the traditional onsen baths, you’ll never want to leave.
It is impressive to say the least. And because of that, it is always going to be a popular choice, so if you’re even contemplating visiting this town, make sure you look into the availability of Nishimuraya Honkan first thing!
Guest Tips: This place can cater for gluten-free diets, but you will need to let them know in advance. If you’re staying for more than a night, maybe opt to visit Sanpou, the restaurant next door one night, as it is amazing.
Book It Now: Nishimuraya Honkan Ryokan
Mikuniya is the perfect ryokan for those who are after an authentic experience but without the insane price tag you would normally expect. It’s a relatively small, humble accommodation that’s located right on the main strip of Kinosaki Onsen town, which means if you stay here, you’re never really far from anywhere that you need to be.
It offers guests decent sized guest rooms, each characterised by tatami flooring and shoji screen doors.
If you’re looking for a private onsen experience, this place is perfect. It’s got an impressive three onsen baths onsite, all of which may be reserved for private use, free of charge, at the front desk.
Guest Tips: It’s literally 250m away from the station, so if you’re traveling heavy, this might be a consideration!
Book It Now: Mikuniya Ryokan
4. Nishimuraya Hotel Shogetsutei
A sister hotel to the famous Nishimura Honkan, you can expect this ryokan to be no less impressive. This 5-star accommodation is located in the woods near Mount Kuruhi, and yet is only 5-minutes away via shuttle bus, and yes, everything here is simply world-class.
Each stunning guest room here offers ample space to relax and unwind, boasting private bathrooms and serene views of nature. You’ll feel elements of rustic Japan throughout the entire complex, and yet there will never be a time where anything feels outdated.
For those who are after a bit of choice, the guest rooms offered here are in the form of traditional Japanese style rooms with tatami flooring, lowered furniture and futon beds, or western style room with elevated bedding and regular furniture. However, whichever choice you make, it will be classy.
Guest Tips: If you want to indulge, reserve the private onsen. If you’re after absolute peace and quiet, the location of this is slightly out of the main strip but is perfect for winding down.
Book It Now: Kinosaki Onsen Nishimuraya Hotel Shogetsutei
5. Kinosaki Onsen Hanakouji Saigetsu
Sometimes, all you’re after is a humble yet thoroughly authentic cultural experience – this is exactly what Kinosaki Onsen Hanakouji Saigetsu provides, and its what people love it for. Located only a stone throw away from the station, this very easy-to-get-to ryokan is the perfect choice for those who want to avoid a massive price tag without compromising on their experience.
I mean, with the most common compliment from past guests being how large and spacious the rooms are here, you can imagine that there are plenty more features that it offers. Although 2-star, you would guess that it is much higher by just looking at its location (for one), the quality seasonal breakfast and kaiseki dinner option, and even the Slumberland mattresses that they proudly advertise.
Guest Tips: The food served here is amazing, but if you’re planning to head out to eat, make sure you check the closing times because restaurants close earlier than normal here.
Book It Now: Kinosaki Onsen Hanakouji Saigetsu
6. Kinosaki Yamamotoya
For a ryokan experience that’s got that extra touch, Kinosaki Yamamotoya is a great option. It’s smaller in size than many others, but it means you get a more personalised experience with the hosts, who are fantastic by the way. The number one selling point of this onsen isn’t the attention you’ll receive though.
In fact, it’s something entirely unique – the ryokan offers an onsite brewery! If sipping on an ice cold local beer after a day of exploring in your yukata sounds like a dream to you, then we urge you to stay at Yamamotoya just for that reason.
This onsen sits only a few minutes walk away from the station, but it also provides a free shuttle service to and from. There is an onsite hot spring bath, and whilst every guest is provided a basic yukata to don before heading out to explore, you can also purchase your very own yukata at the shop located inside the ryokan. You will fall in love with all the beautiful designs.
Guest Tips: This one is in a great central location for those looking for somewhere convenient. There is also a Familymart outside.
Book It Now: Kinosaki Yamamotoya
7. Tajimaya Ryokan
For a no-strings attached traditional ryokan experience that offers you exactly what you would expect, no more and no less, then Tajimaya is a great choice. It provides a free shuttle to and from JR Kinosaki Station, is only a 5-minute walk from Kinosaki Onsen Ropeway, and also offers bikes for rental, so already that may appeal to those who want to minimise traveling plans as much as possible.
Some of the more premium features here include the in-room massage service available which you can book at reception, the traditional kaiseki dinner which may feature Tajima beef and crab, and the private onsen baths which can be reserved.
Guest Tips: Even the cheapest kaiseki dinner option is worth it, so if you’re looking to not blow a hole in your pocket, but want the full experience, it is so worth it!
Book It Now: Tajimaya Ryokan
8. Onishiya Suishoen
This ryokan is located slightly outside of the city centre, but this just adds to its illustrious charm. Onishiya Suishoen focuses on providing a premium-a-grade ambience, an authentic traditional Japanese experience, both at a highly affordable price. If you’re worried about its location, don’t worry it does offer free shuttle service to and from the station for its guests.
Here, you’ll be welcomed to spacious guest rooms, private bathrooms, entertainment including karaoke, massage services, and onsite onsen baths.
Guest Tips: If you’re not bothered about walking, it is only a 5 to 10-minute walk away.
Book It Now: Onishiya Suishoen
9. Kinosaki Onsen Tsubakino Ryokan
This fantastic ryokan located close to the station provides everything you could need and even want in a ryokan experience. From immaculately maintained and presented guest rooms which feature tatami flooring and lots of natural lighting to the wonderfully decorated interiors of all common areas, this place is a treat for the eyes!
You’ll feel an atmospheric nostalgia the moment you step in here, as the hosts are very careful to ensure the authenticity is unmasked here. Throughout the year, you can experience onsen bath-hopping, cycling, and even skiing here.
Guest Tips: If you want a bit of an exercise challenge, it’s highly recommended to hike up the mountain rather than going up the gondola. It’s steep, but the view over the village is well worth it.
Book It Now: Kinosaki Onsen Tsubakino Ryokan
10. Yuraku Kinosaki Spa & Gardens
This stunning 4-star ryokan is like something out of a historic Japanese movie. Surrounded by luscious greenery, serviced to impeccable standards by knowledgeable staff, only 5-minutes away by free shuttle – what more could you want?
There are indoor and outdoor public hot springs available as well as the option to reserve a private onsen bath, massage services are available and can be booked at reception, and a wonderful Japanese kaiseki course using only the freshest local ingredients is served for dinner.
Guest Tips: Please make the time to book the private onsen to unwind, it’s unreal. Also, don’t plan to jog or exercise here – you won’t fit it!
Book It Now: Yuraku Kinosaki Spa & Gardens
11. Utsuroi Tsuchiya Annex
Utsuroi Tsuchiya Annex is a stunning ryokan encasing the perfect balance of classic ryokan charm and sleek modern aesthetics. Its exterior could almost be mistaken for a cafe, with its large open windows and inviting furniture, but once you head inside, it’s unmistakably a traditional Japanese inn.
The guest rooms offer beautiful minimal traditional furniture for lounging, plenty of tatami flooring areas for relaxing and sleeping, and a special hanging egg chair to relax in and observe the streets from the balcony.
Come bedtime, and you can swap the furniture for the softest, fluffiest futon bedding set you can imagine.
There are quaint and cozy private hot spring baths available for all guests to use; simply make a request at the counter once you’ve checked in. We highly recommend looking at securing a time when you’ve returned from exploring the town; soaking in the hot bath and letting your muscles ease is the perfect way to complete the day.
The hosts go far beyond to make your stay comfortable and memorable, so don’t hesitate to ask for tips, information, and a little help getting to and from the station if you need it.
Book It Now: Utsuroi Tsuchiya Annex
Kobayashiya Ryokan first opened in 1925 but has since been renovated in 2015. Whilst it still retains its former structural glory, it’s elevated its comfort factor ten-fold!
Modern luxuries perfectly mix with tradition in Kobayashiya, with simple yet elegant touches featured throughout the ryokan. The lobby has been brought back to life with subtle modern aesthetics, whilst certain guest rooms still feature traditional washi wallpapers and hand-crafted Japanese pottery.
Some guests will be treated to stunning views of the river, and others will be able to take in the afternoon glow from their balcony area. Simply staying at this ryokan is an experience!
Book It Now: Kobayashiya
The beautiful ryokans of Kinosaki all deserve a visit, to be honest, as they’re all just so unique in their own right. From quaint and humble to colossal and overwhelming, you can pick and choose the type of experience you’re after. Regardless of whichever you decide on, though, we know the charming town of Kinosaki will welcome you with open arms.
By the way, you also need to know that some special rules apply when you stay at a Japanese traditional inns so make sure you check out this article after your booking: Ryokan Etiquette.