My parents wanted to come and visit me in Japan and I was keen to give them a real Japanese experience: traditional accommodation, kaiseki cuisine (traditional Japanese multi-dinner course) and a nice onsen (hot spring). At the same time, I also had some worries, as my parents are neither used to sleeping or sitting on the floor nor to Japanese food. So I was looking for something special, hoping that this would also come with a bit of flexibility, especially in terms of food. My efforts in researching paid off, Hotel Shikisai proved to be the perfect choice.
This traditional hotel is located a stone's throw from beautiful Lake Chuzenji, between Chuzenji-onsen and Ryuzu Falls. I gave the hotel a call when we arrived at the bus terminal at Chuzenji-onsen and it did not even take five minutes until we were picked up - just as promised, great start! After a very short drive we were greeted in front of the hotel by at least five staff with a hearty irrashaimase (Welcome). We checked in, confirmed our preferred dinner and breakfast times and we were then accompanied to our rooms. The corridors of the hotel did not look so promising to be honest, but I have learned during my time here, that this is very often the case when it comes to Japanese hotels. However, when the staff opened the door to the room, I knew we could not have done any better: beautiful wooden floor in the small entrance, leading into the room itself with great tatami flooring and tasteful furnishing. We could see a jacuzzi, and behind that a small private terrace facing the forest and the lake behind it - simply fantastic.
We put on our yukata (traditional Japanese bathrobe) and got ready for the onsen. Stunning setting is all I can say! Both areas (male and female) came with one indoor and two outdoor baths each, offering excellent lake views. The temperature was perfect, just below 40°C, so we could really relax and enjoy the panorama for a while, without getting too hot.
Finally, dinner time! Sitting there in our yukata, we could not take our eyes off the beautifully arranged dishes they served us. Everything had been chosen carefully, respecting our special requests in terms of the food that we could or could not eat. The variety was unbelievable and the taste absolutely amazing.
The next morning, we were served another abundant meal, a perfect mixture of Japanese and western style breakfast. I had initially understood that they usually serve Japanese breakfast only, so another nice surprise!
After breakfast, the free hotel shuttle took us up to the Ryuzu Falls and Yumoto-onsen. There is even a free shuttle to and from Nikko once a day, so if you have space in your schedule, this will certainly come in handy.
It is a bit of an expensive place to stay, but given the comfort, the food and the service overall, I can really recommend it if you want to give yourself a nice treat. The staff were super friendly throughout, and I felt they would have done anything to make us feel even more comfortable.
In a nutshell, my parents just loved it, and so did I.