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Just an hour from Tokyo, around Lake Ashi in the Hakone area, you can bask in the breathtaking views of Mount Fuji and bathe in traditional Japanese onsen, otherwise known as Japanese hot springs. It is the perfect day trip. And, if you’re fortunate enough, you too can stay at the Prince Hakone Lake Ashinoko, conveniently located on the shoreside of Lake Ashi.
The Prince Hakone Lake Ashinoko
On the shores of Lake Ashi (or Ashi-no-ko), the Prince Hakone Lake Ashinoko offers the perfect setting to enjoy your stay in the Hakone area, as well as many points of interest just a few minutes walk away. During our stay, we enjoyed a magnificent view of Mount Fuji from the Komagadatake ropeway, took a cruise on the lake and visited Kuzuryu shrine (Hakone Jinja) with its great torii in the lake. There are also a whole set of shops for you to enjoy.
When we arrived, we were greeted by a friendly and attentive team who spoke English, before making our way across the majestic lobby punctuated by a succession of stone pillars that supported a beautifully curved, wooden ceiling. The classical music being played in the background by an automatic piano without a pianist created an almost timeless atmosphere, while the architecture integrated itself perfectly with the forested nature along the shores of Lake Ashi.
Spacious Rooms with Natural Surroundings
All rooms have their own balcony for enjoying the scenic view of the hotel’s traditional, Japanese garden and the lake. 17 rooms even have the privilege of having a direct view of the famous Mount Fuji!
All rooms have a similar layout with a large entrance and a private bathroom. The main area is spacious and comfortable, completed by a seating area with armchairs and a desk. There are many facilities available including a mini bar, kettle, TV and speakers. And, since we are in Japan, we also have a yukata, the light cotton kimono, worn to go to onsen, as well as pajamas. All of these elements combined makes for a very good nights sleep.
After leaving our luggage, we went for a walk along the shore and after dinner we were able to enjoy the hot springs.
The Ryuguden Onsen, Main Building
Just a few minutes walk from the Prince Hakone Lake Ashinoko, is Ryuguden Onsen, whose historic main building was recently renovated and reopened in July 2017.
This building, nicknamed “The Ryu Palace”, was originally a hotel, built in 1938 on the shores of Lake Hamama, 180 km west from here in Shizuoka Prefecture. It was closed 1.5 years after and was later dismantled and transferred to its current location in 1957, along the shores of Lake Ashi. This is where the Ryuguden began a new chapter in the Hakone area.
Thanks to recent renovations, this historic building, whose architecture is now listed, has been completely transformed into a luxurious and traditional onsen offering an exceptional view of Lake Ashi and Mount Fuji, if the weather is mild enough.
For a perfect day of relaxation, you can also have lunch at the Yumedono Restaurant (service from 11 am to 6 pm), have a massage at the Kaeda Spa or simply relax on the tatami floor, enjoying the stunning views of the lake. Alternately, rent a lounge so you can keep your privacy (￥4,000 for 120 minutes).
The entry fee to Ryuguden onsen is ￥1,800, with yukata rental for an additional ￥200. Ryuguden Onsen is open from 10:00 to 20:00.
If you’d rather relax in the hotel, you can get free access to the onsen in Prince Hakone Lake Ashinoko Hotel. From 6 am to 11 am and 13 pm to 23 pm, the guests can enjoy both an indoor and outdoor bath. Unfortunately, as is often the case in Japan, access to the onsen is prohibited to people with tattoos.
Dinner at Lake Side grill
For dinner, we had several choices among the restaurants at the Prince Hakone Lake Ashinoko (reservation required):
- French restaurant: Le Trianon ( 17:30 – 20:30 )
- Japanese restaurant: Nadaman Garden (17:30 – 21:00)
- Fusion cuisine restaurant: Lake Side Grill (17:30 – 21:00)
We chose to dine in the Lake Side Grill restaurant, which was recently opened in April 2017. Here, the chef offers melas that combine Japanese, Chinese and French cuisines.
For starters, we had a creamy carrot soup and a choice of raw vegetables, verrines and cold meats from the free buffet. As a main course, we enjoyed grilled beef steak with vegetables and finally had a plate of small beautifully presented desserts including ice cream, matcha cake and mango cream.
The Lake Side Grill restaurant also offers breakfast (service from 7 am to 10 am) and lunch (service from 11:30 am to 2:30 pm).
A Royal Breakfast at the Trianon restaurant
For breakfast, we chose Trianon (service from 7:30 to 10:00, reservation required). We enjoyed this 5-star royal breakfast and even caught a glimpse of Mount Fuji (but only for a few minutes, before it became covered in clouds). Be sure to allow a good hour to enjoy all the dishes.
With a beautiful salad of colorful vegetables and accompanying refreshing smoothies, the first dish was a ballet of flavors. Following that was an assortment of pastries, bacon, vegetables, soup, and eggs benedicts with the choice of an accompaniment of lobster! If you haven’t done so by now, we highly recommend you try their coffee, which the staff will prepare for you in their own special way!
The hotel is located on the shores of Lake Ashi next to the Hakone-en bus stop. From Odawara Station, take the Izu-Hakone bus to Hakone-en (a 50-minute journey). To reach Odawara from Tokyo, take the Tokaido Shinkansen for 30 minutes (included in the JR pass).
Alternatively, from Hakone-Yumoto Station, take the Izu-Hakone Bus to Hakone-en (30-minute ride).
The hotel also offers its guests a free shuttle from Odawara Station. See their schedules and information here.
How to Book a Room?
If you are looking for equally luxurious accommodation in Tokyo, you can also check out our article on the Prince Tokyo Sakura Tower in Tokyo.
<ul> <li>144 Motohakone, Hakone-machi, Ashigarashimo-gun 250-0592, Kanagawa Prefecture</li> <li>144 Motohakone, Hakone-machi, Ashigarashimo-gun 250-0592, Kanagawa Prefecture</li> </ul>
Original article by fabienne