Ala Champ
 
00:00/

The Robey

A Historic Art Deco Building Transformed Into One Of The Most Beautiful Design And Lifestyle Hotels In Chicago

SHIHARA LAB

Precise Minimalism With This Geometry-Based Fine Jewellery Line

ENDGAMƎ

The London-Based Producer Is Bringing Together A Global Community Of Experimentalists

Wild Life Archive’s Dance Music Culture 70’s To Present

The Underground Publisher Presents His Rare & Unseen Collection In Tokyo

KENGO KUMA DESIGNS THE NEW V&A DUNDEE

Japanese Architect Kengo Kuma Has Completed His First Project In The United Kingdom, Designing The First Design Museum In Scotland

AMOS REX

With Director Kai Kartio At The Directorial Helm, The New Amos Rex Art Museum By Architects JKMM Is Set To Highlight Helsinki’s Championing Of The Arts

SAHSYA KANETANAKA

Hiroshi Sugimoto's Mathematics-Driven Artistic Concept For An Architectural Structure - A Restaurant In The Heart Of Tokyo

TRUNK HOTEL

In Tokyo, Find The Most Conscious Boutique Hotel And Local Lounge

SAKURAI JAPANESE TEA EXPERIENCE

A Modern Tea Room In Tokyo Championing The Craftsmanship of Japanese Tea

CRETO DI BURRI

One Of The Largest Land Artworks In The World Found In The Outskirts of Palermo In Italy

IISE SEOUL

Brother Design Duo Are The Next Gen Merging Korean Craftsmanship In A Contemporary Context

AWA-ODORI

In Photos: An Annual Traditional Festival In Japan Celebrating The Art Of Dance

Michaël Borremans

A Complex Beauty In One Of The Most Important Painters Of Our Time

ISAMU NOGUCHI

"From Sculpture To The Body And Garden" At Tokyo Opera City Art Gallery

Reversible Destiny Lofts

The Vibrant Residences That Challenge Daily Perceptions Of Space & Movement, By Artist-Duo Arakawa & Gins

THE NEW MUSEUM OF CONTEMPORARY ART IN NEW YORK

Designed By SANAA Architects, We Revisit The New Museum Which Continues To Challenge The Typical Museum Format

HAKONE SUISHOEN

The Most Charming Luxury Hot Spring Ryokan in Japan's Hakone Mountains

September, 2018
Hakone Suishoen © Guestroom Private Onsen

Located just one hour by train from Tokyo, Hakone is one of Japan’s most popular destinations for hot springs and a spectacular mountainous landscape throughout all four seasons. On most days, it’s common to see the grandiose Mount Fuji from a number of points.

Hakone is the perfect weekend getaway, where you can soak in the abundance of natural hot springs and fresh air. It was a delight to discover Hakone Suishoen, a luxury hot spring resort with exceptional hospitality and spectacular gardens that only complimented the region’s mountainous view. “Deeply reminiscent of the Taisho-era” where Hakone was a peak luxury holiday destination, the hotel is a merge of a luxury overnight stay and a traditional ryokan Japanese inn.

Hakone Suishoen © Restaurant Momiji in Winter

Located in Hakone’s Ashigarashimo area, Hakone Suishoen is a short cable car ride to Kowakidani station where the hotel driver greets you to take you to your destination. It’s a generous gesture that is not to be underestimated, and immediately sets the tone where over the course of your stay, you are wholeheartedly taken care of. Founded only 10 years ago, the hotel is modern yet retains a sense of traditional classicism. Here, you enter a world where you can truly relax and concede to the nature around. In each of the hotel guest rooms, find a private hot spring and plentiful amenities to ensure a smooth stay, it really is found in the attention to details.

Hakone Suishoen's 95-year-old Restaurant, Momiji © JK / Champ Travel
Hakone Suishoen © Guest Yukata & Geta Sandals
Hakone Suishoen's Bamboo Garden © JK / Champ Travel

Hakone Suishoen have also created their own, original fragrance found in guest rooms and hotel spaces: Kouboku (translated in Japanese as smell and wood), adds a slight woody sweetness to the air. The well-stocked and complimentary fridge includes Yamagata-made apple juice, Yuagarido Cider, and generous jugs of chilled teas – perfect for much-needed re-hydration post-hot spring bathing. In the bathroom, luxury cosmetic amenities are supplied from Matsuyama, L’Occitane, Tsubaki and Thann.

Here, both the beauty in nature and personal beauty is deeply considered, with Suishoen Spa by French brand Sisley presenting luxury spa treatments offering massages, facials, and full-body treatments. We tried the Phyto-Atomatic Anti-Aging Facial (90 mins) designed to restore weakened skin with renewed resilience from selected ingredients and intensive hydration from Sisley’s anti-aging engineering. Our specialist Misa Matsuoka ensured that our visit was one of the best facials we have ever had. It is no surprise that the majority of their customers are returning guests.

Hakone Suishoen's Suishoen Spa by Sisley © JK / Champ Travel

Hakone Suishoen’s surrounding garden that joins each annex is simply beautiful, with bamboo trees, regional pine and rock placements carefully coordinated to create a unique journey. In fact, the stellar garden was created by the same landscape designer as the legendary engineer and automotive founder Soichiro Honda’s own villa garden. What is most endearing and convenient about hotel ryokan’s in Hakone, is that your yukata cotton summer kimono and geta sandals can be worn throughout your entire stay – including to dinner and breakfast. The traditional garden pathways transport you to another world, as you traverse through the scenic route to your guest room, or restaurant, or large open-air onsen hot spring bath.

Situated central to the hotel ground, is the restaurant Momiji: a 95-year-old former besou summer house and private villa owned by the Mitsui zaibatsu financial clique and family. The restaurant is a spectacular example of traditional Japanese sukiya architecture, completely constructed from wood and it’s original timber sourced from the surrounding region. The restaurant structure has had additional builds, including a renovation in 2002 when the hotel adapted and increased room ceiling heights to accommodate modern lengths, with additional wall extensions constructed in March 2018. It’s hard not to feel overwhelmed by the complete authenticity of this space, with traditional earthen walls and intricate timber joinery, including original and robust taisho-era glass – now a rarity to find due it’s specific technique in production – the glass has curved elements is not straight unlike glass produced in industrial years.

Hakone Suishoen Restaurant Momiji © JK / Champ Travel
Inside Restaurant Momiji © JK / Champ Travel
Inside Restaurant Momiji © JK / Champ Travel

For dinner, we walk past the restaurant’s front corner bar “Ito” (perfect for an evening whiskey) before we are seated for a traditional Japanese kaiseki meal known as a ‘time-honoured culinary tradition’ due to its lengthy structure of 7-8 dishes that are presented in particular order; zensai, suimono, tsukuri, yakimono, shiizakana, shokuji, mizugashi. Momiji’s head chef Koji Matsumori has helmed both Hakone Suishoen and sister hotel Atami Fu Fu’s kitchens for 7 years. With an exceptional orientation for presentation and deep understanding of seasonality, Matsumori’s technique makes the dining experience unforgettable. It is a journey in colour, texture, flavour, and their perfectly complementing contrasting surprises presented in a variety of Japanese porcelain and wood bowls.

Our first dish zensai was prepared in traditional Hakone presentation and a sculpture in itself. Here, chef Matsumori has truly taken into consideration seasonality and locality by including a stream of susuki grass tied in gold and silver string, alongside a ichio gingko leaf and momiji maple leaves – all abundant in Japan’s brisk autumn season. Next, suimono; a light soup of autumnal matsutake mushrooms, with conger eel and sudachi citrus to squeeze over served in beautiful earthenware. Following, tsukuri dish of seasonal sashimi including toro tuna, tai snapper, and squid paired with fresh wasabi and soy sauce and white ponz sauce. Our stand-out dish was yakimono; grilled golden eye (red) snapper with satoimo Japanese taro and sweet green pepper.

Our fifth dish, shiizakana, was a hot pot of pork in white soup with seasonal maitake mushrooms and chestnut mochi, an interesting pairing yet one that made this a second lead-runner for the evening. For this dish, we paired it with a trio sake sampler of Kanagawan sake from Ebina. Next, our shokuji dish was kettle-friend rice in a large mizen yaki hot pot, served in a kama hot pot. Pacific saury fish was stirred through the rice serving, alongside a traditional lacquered urushi bowl of miso soup. For mizugashi dessert, offers two servings – the first being a black sesame brûlée with a hint of anko red bean. Next, a fresh and light chilled pear soup with nacho pear and muscat grape, paired with red grape sherbet and peach Japanese jelly. A well-balanced and subtly sweet end to our monumental meal.

Hakone Suishoen's Restaurant Momiji © JK / Champ Travel
Matsutake Mushroom Soup With Conger Eel, Sudachi © JK
Hakone Suishoen's Kaiseki Menu By Head Chef Koji Matsumori © JK / Champ Travel

For breakfast we return back to the hotel and are seated in the former tea room overlooking the garden. Mango juice and tea to start, followed by hot tofu with an onion sauce salad accompanied by miso soup, grilled rolled egg and salmon, tuna sashimi and additional vegetable dishes. With a much-needed coffee, we finish with a sweet pineapple and lychee sorbet and mandarin jelly.

Alongside the restaurant is a 300-year-old Japanese maple momiji tree is found, spectacular in Japan’s famed autumn koyo months, and an impressive sense of grandeur throughout all other seasons. The tree is perfectly situated taking centre place next to the restaurant, where guests can dine and admire it’s grandeur over breakfast or dinner.

At Hakone Suishoen, the hospitality from the staff is wholeheartedly genuine and sincere, and is the essential ingredient to the refined luxury found here and what sets it apart from the rest. The classic charm and elegant simplicity is only complemented by it’s abundance of nature to provide the revered sense of zen unlike anywhere else.

Hakone Suishoen © Public Onsen Outdoor Bath

HAKONE SUISHOEN
519-9 Kowakudani, Hakone,
Ashigarashimo District, Kanagawa Prefecture 250-0406

Hakone Suishoen © Guestroom Private Onsen
September, 2018