Fuji Hakone Guest House
Japanese Style and Guesthouse Charm in Hakone
Fuji Hakone Guest House has excellent reviews and I can confirm that they are well deserved. On arriving we were greeted warmly and given a thorough introduction to the guesthouse and the surrounding area. It is easy to access all of Hakone from Fuji Hakone, and the Senkyoro-mae bus stop is steps away from the entrance. You can also walk to hiking trails or through Sengokuhara with its many excellent restaurants, shops and museums (Saint-Exupery and the Little Prince).
I was delighted to learn we were staying in the Hakone room, which was on the second floor and overlooked a river. Though we arrived early, we were allowed to check in and leave our bags in our room before venturing out to the requisite Hakone Ropeway course. Before leaving, we were instructed to sign up for use of one of the private onsen (one indoor, one out) for that evening and opted for the outdoor tub, something to look forward to upon our return.
This area of Hakone is quiet at night and things shut down early. After a soak and early dinner we retired to our room to rest. There was a small television though we never turned it on, as it would have drowned out the sound of the river. Instead we read and enjoyed the calm of our room. The Japanese style beds were incredibly comfy and we were lolled to sleep by the melodic sound of running water. After the most amazing night's sleep in memory, we awoke to bird songs and a beautiful sunrise, rested and ready for the day.
Our second day in Hakone, we did not use our Hakone free passes but did everything on foot: hiked Mt Kintoki and enjoyed an impressive view of Mt Fuji from the peak, took our time walking back through Sengokuhara to the guesthouse, stopping to nosh and sip iced coffee on the way. There are great food options and fun, though expensive, little boutiques along the street. Once back to our digs, the outdoor onsen was the perfect way to ease sore muscles from the steep hike.
Fuji Hakone has been open for 27 years. It is a family run establishment and they want guests to feel at home. The rooms are Japanese style, with tatami, Yukata robes, and Japanese table and cushions. They offer a unique, budget option in Hakone. Nightly rates are 5,250-6,300 per person (in Hakone this is budget) plus a small local tax of 150 JPY per person, per night. There are 15 rooms, half for 1-2 people and the rest for groups of 2-4. The rooms are close together, but the guesthouse is pleasantly quiet. Our fellow guests ran the gamut: couples, families, groups of friends and a single female traveler.
Though they do not have a restaurant on site, they have English menus for all the local restaurants in the lobby. This is very handy as there are many options and you can check the prices before venturing out. There is also a market, less than a minute walk from the guesthouse, where you can purchase food and drinks to take back and enjoy in your room or in the shared sitting area. Two nearby Japanese restaurants offer a shuttle service to and from Fuji Hakone. We loved China House with amazing Gyoza (try the shiso! A delicious, mint like herb) and walked there each evening for dinner.
Breakfast is optional (850 JPY) and a simple spread: fruit, boiled eggs, toast, yogurt and cereal. I found it was worth it for the fresh brewed coffee alone, and found it perfect for filling up before we hiked Mt Kintoki. The gracious host, Masami Takahashi, visited the dining room during breakfast to greet guests and make sure everyone was comfortable and having a good stay.
Our second, and final, morning after a soak, my companion went to the market and returned with a nice breakfast of yogurt and rice balls. I was thrilled to sit at our Japanese table and enjoy the tranquility of our room a little longer.