Visit The World's Oldest Hotel In This Popular Asian Country

For most people, when they think of historic hotels, grand European establishments like the Ritz in Paris or the Hassler in Rome might come to mind. But did you know that the world's oldest hotel isn't in Europe at all, but in Asia? Japan, to be precise. It's a hidden gem, nestled in the Yamanashi Prefecture near Mount Fuji, and it has been welcoming guests for over a millennium — Nishiyama Onsen Keiunkan.

Established in 705 A.D., this hotel has been a beacon of Japanese hospitality for a whopping 1,318 years and counting. To put it in perspective, when this inn started its operations, Europe was still in the Dark Ages! The Nishiyama Onsen Keiunkan has thrived through the years, remaining in the hands of the same family from the very beginning. Since its inception by founder Fujiwara Mahito (son of a renowned aide who served the 38th emperor of Japan) in 705 A.D., the hotel has been passed down within the family lineage for 52 generations. 

Nishiyama Onsen Keiunkan is a type of hotel known as ryokan. A ryokan is an inn that hosts guests with precise Japanese hospitality — from kaiseki dining to futon beds, the experience is steeped in tradition. Although it may seem intimidating (due to various formalities), a ryokan stay is typically a very relaxing and special experience. They have been around since the eighth century A.D, and of course, Nishiyama Onsen Keiunkan takes the Guinness World Record title as the oldest hotel and ryokan. 

Nishiyama Onsen Keiunkan: historic hot springs

Over the years, the inn has seen countless renovations, adapting to modernity while retaining its essence. According to Sora News 24, The walls of this hotel hosted a wide variety of guests ranging from figures of ancient Japan, like 16th century Yamanashi samurai warlord Takeda Shingen, and Tokugawa Ieyasu, the ruler who started the final shogun dynasty, to celebrities and politicians. Despite the inevitable changes brought by time, some things at the Nishiyama Onsen Keiunkan remain unchanged.

The word "onsen" is in the hotel's name for a reason — it means hot springs. The inn is permeated by four natural hot springs which, at a rate of 265 gallons per minute, flow into two indoor baths and four open-air baths — Boukei, Hakuho, Kawane, Seoto, Hikou, and Sekifu. Rich in sodium, calcium nitrate, and chloride, the water's healing properties are said to help with digestion, skin, body pain, and other health problems. This isn't your average hotel spa; this is nature's spa, crafted by Mother Earth over millennia.

And then, there are the views. While you can't see Mount Fuji from the inn, you will see it in the distance as you make your way there, and the calm ambiance of the inn amid lush forests, ravines, and Japanese countryside offers a tranquil escape. It's a glimpse into the past, a journey back to a time when life moved at a gentler and more natural pace. For additional nearby sightseeing, after bathing in the hot springs at Nishiyama Onsen Keiunkan, you can witness Japanese macaques (also known as snow monkeys) literally do the same thing at Jigokudani Monkey Park.

Japanese tradition meets modern luxury

The hotel houses 37 rooms, each echoing the traditional Japanese aesthetic. Expect tatami mats, sliding fusuma doors, and delicate artwork synonymous with Japanese décor. Every room tells a story, offering a blend of comfort, tradition, and luxury — and despite the historicism, Nishiyama Onsen Keiunkan has free Wi-Fi across the board and even a karaoke room. For food, the Mountain Kaiseki Banquet serves traditional multi-course Japanese meals prepared by an award-winning head chef using exclusively fresh local ingredients. Try the A5-rank Koshu beef grilled on hot lava stone.

Reviews of Nishiyama Onsen Keiunkan are consistently stellar across every platform from to Expedia. Some perks at the hotel include free train station pick-up, half-board meals, a Japanese garden for relaxation, and all staff at the hotel wearing nibushiki (two-piece) kimonos. Given its rich history, unparalleled service, and the experience it promises, a stay at the Nishiyama Onsen Keiunkan is surprisingly affordable — prices begin at $408 per night. If you're enticed by the idea of stepping into traditional Japanese hospitality and soaking in the ryokan's onsen, booking your visit is just a click away.

If you are planning a trip to Japan, consider taking a step back to a time when simplicity met luxury, where history was the backdrop to relaxation. The Nishiyama Onsen Keiunkan offers this very experience. In a world that's constantly racing ahead, it stands as a timeless testament to the enduring beauty of tradition. "Irasshaimase", or "welcome", to the world's oldest hotel.