You Can Book The World's Oldest Hotel For A One-Of-A-Kind Experience

Japan is a fascinating country. It's where East meets West, modern meets tradition, and old meets new. If you've ever wanted to travel back in time while being a hop-skip away from modern day (and in some major Japanese cities, the future), a visit to Japan should be in order. While the country is filled with many unique experiences, whether it's hanging out at a maid café or a cat café in Tokyo, visiting Fushimi Inari Taisha in Kyoto, or chasing cherry blossom sightings for the sole week they are in full bloom, Japan is a place for adventure. If you're looking to relax and indulge in a historical experience, however, a visit to the world's oldest hotel, Nishiyama Onsen Keiunkan, needs to be added to your bucket list.

Located in Hayakawa-cho, a town surrounded by mountains (the Southern Japanese Alps, the Kushigata Mountain Range, and the Minobu Mountains), Nishiyama Onsen Keiunkan offers a pristine and serene experience for visitors looking to get out of the chaotic Japanese cities. Staying in a ryokan (a traditional Japanese inn) such as Nishiyama Onsen Keiunkan is a unique way to experience the mesmerizing country of Japan.

A historical experience

Nishiyama Onsen Keiunkan is 1,300 years old. In the year 705, the oldest son of the powerful aristocratic family Fujiwara no Kamatari discovered hot springs along the Yukawa River. Shortly thereafter, a ryokan was built. While the hotel was always a sacred place for folks to get out of the city, it really took a turn in popularity after the Guinness Book of World Records declared it the oldest hotel in the world in 2011.

There are approximately 27,000 hot springs in Japan and approximately 3,000 onsens (onsens are the facilities surrounding hot springs, while ryokans are specifically the hotels). However, only Nishiyama Onsen Keiunkan can say it's the oldest one in the world.

Aside from some infrastructural changes, the ryokan has retained its original integrity. Today, the 4-star hotel offers 35 rooms (though, not all rooms are always open), starting at 52,000 yen, or approximately $355/night. 

What to expect when visiting

Getting to Nishiyama Onsen Keiunkan is not necessarily difficult, but it's also not the most straightforward, requiring several transfers. First, guests must pass through Shizuoka, a prefecture that is best known for Mount Fuji and producing Japanese green tea. About an hour train ride from Shizuoka, guests will reach Minobu. From there, visitors will take another hour-long drive until they finally arrive.

Once at the hotel, guests can treat themselves to one of the six designated hot springs. While most Japanese onsens prohibit guests with tattoos (tattoos are often recognized as being associated with yazuka gangs), two of the indoor hot springs allow reservations for those with tattoos. This is just one of the many things to take into consideration when visiting Japan.

Guests will also be able to enjoy a five-course meal, typically including tofu, sushi, grilled meat, and soba noodles made from local acorns as opposed to buckwheat, all served with locally made wine. Dinner is served in a private room, offering guests the utmost serenity.

After dinner, guests come back to an entirely new room, as the staff transforms each living room into a bedroom with futons on the floor. Overall, the experience at Nishiyama Onsen Keiunkan is peaceful, serene, and leaves guests with the bragging rights that they have officially stayed at the oldest hotel in the world.