The Ritz-Carlton, Nikko
Peaceful, Minimalist Luxury, Cultural Retreat
2482 Chugushi Nikko, Japan +81 288-256666 www.ritzcarlton.com
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At a Glance
The Ritz-Carlton, Nikko is an escape 95 miles north of Tokyo on Lake Chuzenji at the middle of Nikko National Park that effortlessly blends gorgeous scenery, design and tradition, creating a restorative, immersive retreat. The property allows guests to experience Japanese onsen culture, with a beautiful indoor-outdoor onsen.
- The hotel’s calming ambience, felt the second you walk through the door, with a minimalist yet warm interior design and a strong sense of place
- The indoor-outdoor onsen connected to the spa, directly sourced from historical Japan’s natural hot springs discovered 1,200 years ago
- The seasonal menus at both the Japanese and Western restaurants on-property
The Ritz-Carlton, Nikko Review
Ninety-five miles north of Tokyo, Nikko is known for its UNESCO World Heritage Sites, particularly Toshogu Shrine complex, a gilded memorial to the founder of the Tokugawa Shogunate, which ruled Japan during the Edo period. International tourists tend to visit Nikko as a day-trip, but Japanese travelers consider it a year-round wellness destination—often spending two or three nights to rest and refresh among gorgeous scenery.
Overlooking Mount Nantai, The Ritz-Carlton, Nikko stands in an area known locally as OkuNikko, or “deep Nikko,” providing an ideal home base to enjoy the area to the fullest. Since the 19th century, diplomats and other dignitaries have made this neighborhood their holiday residence. The area provides easy access to Nikko’s natural and cultural jewels, like the 318-foot cascade of Kegon Falls, the Senjogahara marshlands and multiple shrines and temples. (Nikko’s climate causes the peak timing of the cherry blossoms and the fall foliage to occur later than Tokyo and other parts of Japan, allowing those traveling later in the season the chance to catch these sought-after colors.)
Upon arrival, guests are taken to the library and lounge area—where sleek bookshelves, cozy seating and roaring fireplaces, plus a gracious greeting from the hotel staff, make for a warm welcome. The 94 rooms and suites are tranquil and sophisticated, with light wood interiors and neutral, stone-colored accents. Every room has a balcony and porch, a nod to Japan’s engawa veranda of traditional residential design, with a floor-to-ceiling sliding glass door that immerses guests in nature, no matter the time of year. Inside of the cabinet on the veranda, you’ll find a Nespresso coffee maker and a tea kettle. Oversized stone bathrooms feature Asprey amenities, a deep tub with a sliding door out to the veranda and a separate shower. Both mountain- and lake-view rooms are available, but we recommend facing the lake—especially for when taking a bath in the rather large square tubs. In the walk-in closet you will find an original yukata (bathrobe) and sandals for you to wear to the spa.
One of the property’s biggest draws—and where we’d recommend spending at least an hour every morning, afternoon or evening—is the traditional Japanese onsen, accessed through the spa and open from 5:30 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. The elevated levels of sulfur in natural hot-spring water gives it healing properties, allowing for a natural detox. The spa itself has four treatment rooms, as well as one suite with its own private onsen, and the fitness studio is open 24/7.
There are two restaurants on property, The Japanese Restaurant and the Lakehouse (or Western restaurant), as well as a sexy bar in the lobby lounge which serves fine whiskies and cocktails. The chefs and mixologists do an excellent job of crafting seasonal menus which feature flavors and local produce from the Tochigi Prefecture—home to vineyards, strawberry farms, sake breweries and more. At The Japanese Restaurant, adorned with intricate woodcarvings on the walls and ceiling, guests can experience decadent Kaiseki multi-course meals or fresh sushi from the sushi counter. À la carte menus are available as well. The Lakehouse is a beautiful spot to dine on Western cuisine created with fresh Japanese ingredients, with views of the lake and an outdoor terrace.
Many cultural and outdoor activities may be enjoyed both on- and off-property—paddleboarding on Chuzenji Lake; experiencing a traditional Buddhist fire ceremony at the Chuzenji Temple; wood-carving with an expert; taking an e-bike history tour with a visit to the mesmerizing Kegon Falls; morning meditation with a Buddhist monk and more. A visit to the UNESCO World Heritage Toshogu Shrine is a must. Some activities are seasonal: in the winter there is fresh powder for skiing and snowboarding; in the summer, try fly-fishing for brook trout on the lake where fly fishing was first introduced to Japan.
Who Should Stay
The Ritz-Carlton, Nikko is popular among Japanese leisure travelers who treat Nikko as a wellness destination—a place to unwind, to relax amidst gorgeous mountain scenery and the expansive Chuzenji Lake, and to take advantage of time at the Onsen. International travelers who want to experience a unique, more relaxed side of Japanese culture but who still want the fantastic service and amenities of a Ritz-Carlton will be very happy here. There is hiking and biking, activities on the lake, and many traditional and cultural activities to experience.
- Sydney Lapin