Today’s ryokans are putting a modern spin on a dependable format, helping carry the hotels forward into yet another millennium.
Let’s be clear: the ryokan does not need reinventing. These Japanese country inns have remained among the world’s finest hospitality experiences since they first began appearing in the eighth century. But the formula—traditional materials, tranquil seclusion, hot spring onsen baths, ceremoniously prepared meals—is as good now as it was then, inspiring these modern interpretations that will ensure it stays relevant for another thousand years.
Zaborin is every inch a classic ryokan, from its unspoiled natural setting to the elaborate artistry of its kaiseki dinners. But its unapologetically modernist influences is where it truly stands apart — most notably in the abundance of poured concrete, but also the technological luxuries like flatscreen televisions and Bluetooth sound systems.
Yes, Villa Rakuen is a modern, ten-story luxury hotel, but the classic ryokan experience is present in all the details, from open-air baths and tatami rooms to private Japanese gardens and miles of sea and sky outside the windows. Get past the height and vintage of the building and it feels like a natural update of the old tradition.
Izu Peninsula, Japan
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