Off the beaten path is the way (rather “non” way) to go in ways to travel this year. Venture on an off the beaten path trip while still maintaining your inborn love for city breaks by travelling to Japan’s capital and then picking a couple of nearby destinations to explore within 2 hours from Tokyo via the incredibly reliable Japan Rail!
Time from Tokyo: 15 minutes by train
Hotel pick: Hotel New Grand
Off the beaten path: Rent a kimono and become a time-travelling off the beaten path wander the Yokohama Red Brick Warehouse (think Hamburg’s Speicherstadt), then visit the Cup Noodles Museum to create your own custom made cup noodles!
The hotel: We can’t get enough of the bayside location and the fact Charlie Chaplin and Babe Ruth were guests way back in the day!
Time from Tokyo: 15 minutes by train
Hotel pick: Tokyo Disneyland Hotel
Off the beaten path: Wander the beautifully landscaped gardens of the Tokyo Disneyland Hotel, based off of the Queen of Hearts’ garden (minus the flamingos) and, like Alice, follow a rabbit off the beaten path. The magical thing about Tokyo Disneyland, while full of people, is that park-goers create their own imaginative journey through the land of make believe which is pretty off the beaten path if we do say so ourselves.
The hotel: Take that imaginary world home with you by staying in a character room, such as the Tinker Bell room pictured below, at Tokyo Disneyland’s flagship hotel.
Time from Tokyo: 30 minutes by train
Hotel pick: Wakatake Ryokan
Off the beaten path: Another warehouse district! Not red brick but clay-walled with black-tiled roofs, the stretch of warehouses from the Edo Period, now shops and restaurants, is a great path to wander along – you’ll feel like you’re in 19th century Japan!
The hotel: The Wakatake Ryokan is our hotel pick as it’s a 15-minute walk to the warehouse district (Kurazukuri Street) and right by the Kawagoe-shi Station which the Tobu-Tojo Line goes directly to from Tokyo (30 minutes by express trains).
Time from Tokyo: 30 minutes from by train
Hotel pick: Hakone Hotel Kowaki-en
Off the beaten path: Wander on and off the Old Tokaido Road – the first well policed Edo-era road linking Tokyo with Kyoto, and experience the top notch hiking trails the Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park have to offer, the best of which is the hike from Owakudani to Lake Ashinoko.
The hotel: In the centre of Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park is the hot springs spa resort and water park, Hakone Kowaki-en, which comes complete with four open-air baths.
Hotel pick: Hotel Okada
The hotel: Imagine the Hotel Okada is the bathhouse from Spirited Away – stay here and you’d travel to another dimension let alone off the beaten path! A massive hot spring hotel, comprising 13 large baths, the spa hotel could very well be Miyazaki’s inspiration!
Time from Tokyo: 70 minutes by train
Hotel pick: Fuji-View Hotel
Off the beaten path: One of the Fuji Five Lakes, easily accessible from Tokyo by rail. Where to go in Kawaguchi? Park yourself anywhere on the shore of Lake Kawaguchi and spend all daylight hours admiring Mt. Fuji.
The hotel: With 25 acres of garden each of the members of your family will find their own off the beaten path! John Lennon, Yoko and their kids stayed here!
Time from Tokyo: 60 minutes by train
Hotel pick: Kamakura Prince Hotel
Off the beaten path: Japan’s ancient capital, the seaside town is renowned for its resorts and historical shrines. Go off the beaten path on a hike of East Kamakura, discovering many temples along the way.
The hotel: We see why Kafka was drawn to the shore when standing on the hilltop coastline of Kamakura, looking out into the deep blue pacific. All views from the bayside Kamakura Prince Hotel have guaranteed poetic views of the ocean and Mt. Fuji.
Time from Tokyo: 65-80 minutes by train
Hotel pick: Karuizawa Prince Hotel
Off the beaten path: Surrounded by forests and waterfalls, Karuizawa invites visitors to go off the beaten path and explore on either bike or foot. If journeying here in winter, you can carve out your own unique path on the ski slopes.
The hotel: The highlight about the Karuizawa Prince Hotel is that accommodations include fully furbished cottages! Now we can’t think of staying in anything but a cottage in this foresty area!