Hakone: Hotel de Yama
Quite possibly the best location you could stay at in Hakone.
Hotel de Yama, also known as Yama no Hotel, is a 4-star resort located right on Hakone’s Lake Ashi.
It began as a vacation home for Koyata Iwasaki, nephew of Yataro Iwasaki, the founder of Mitsubishi. It is designed in a Western style and has catered to both domestic and international guests since 1948, just as was desired by Iwasaki.
HOW TO GET THERE
The easiest way to get to Hakone is via the Odakyu Romance Car express train, a 1 hour 15 minute ride from Shinjuku station.
Once arriving at Hakone-Yumoto station, the last stop, there are a couple of options. The easiest way is catching a bus from across the station that goes to the Motohakone area. From Motohakone, there are shuttles to Hotel de Yama.
We stayed here for a weekend in Hakone in May, when the Azalea and Rhododendron flowers are in bloom for the Hakone Azalea Fair. The flowers, 800 JPY (free for guests), are a big attraction draws a pretty decent crowd.
Hotel de Yama is unlike a lot of the other resorts in Hakone. Due to it being a Western style resort, it’s not a typical ryokan and more like a full-service hotel that you’re used to.
We stayed in a Standard Type room, a 30㎡ room with two full-size beds and a view of the garden and Lake Ashi. Prices vary depending on the room and season but will typically start at around $300/night.
The resort, of course, has an onsen hot spring as well. One thing to keep in mind though, is that the male onsen is not as good as the female onsen. While females have an outdoor area with a view of the surrounding forest, males have high walls lining the perimeter of their bath and there’s no view.
In addition to the hot springs, Hotel de Yama also has a spa, karaoke room and banquet hall.
There are a few places to eat and drink as well. Salon de thé Rosage, a French cafe, Vert Bois, which specializes in French cuisine, the Lounge Bar for drinks, and Tsutsuji no Chaya, a Japanese kaiseki restaurant. We stayed with the Western theme for our meals.
Salon de thé Rosage
Salon de thé Rosage is separated from the main Hotel de Yama building and is right on Lake Ashi. They have both inside and outdoor seating.
The cafe has a cake set for 1,350 JPY that lets you pick from 4 different options - mont blanc, orange mousse, strawberry shortcake, chocolate cake - and pair it with tea.
Dinner at Vert Bois was a 6-course French meal by Chef Kiyotoshi Yusa. It also had a pretty nice list of wines to choose from - both by the bottle or in 1-3 glass sets.
Breakfast was also at Vert Bois and featured eggs (sunnyside up or omelet), salad, miso bacon, an original juice, pineapple, coffee/tea and bread.
Checkout is at 12PM which gives you a lot of time to hit up the onsen one last time and relax in one of the massage chairs located in the dressing room.
Maybe the biggest benefit for people like me who enjoy taking photos is being close to Hakone Shrine. From the hotel, it’s easy really easy to walk on over to the picturesque torii gate before the massive crowd does (by 8:30AM). Nice hotel, fantastic location.