Fancy Ryokan close(ish) to Narita Airport?
June 9, 2014 5:18 PM   Subscribe

My good friend and I will be in Japan this August for two weeks! Most of the time we're staying at budget ryokan, but for our last night in the country we wanted to find someplace more special....and convenient to the airport.

Some details:

-- We'll be coming from Kyoto.

-- We'll have JR passes.

-- My friend is fluent in Japanese -- we don't need the staff to be able to speak English, and we can navigate Japanese websites in order to make reservations.

-- Our flight leaves around 4PM on a weekday. We'd like to have time to wake up, eat a nice breakfast, and take the train to the airport. So we need to be close to Narita, but not necessarily THAT close.

-- Short cab rides are fine; we can figure out busses if that's the public transit available.

-- We're especially interested in good food, and will eat basically anything.

-- We don't mind shared bathrooms or baths.

Any suggestions? I'd particularly like to hear about places you've personally stayed at, or had friends tell you about.

Thanks so much for any help you can offer!
posted by Narrative Priorities to Travel & Transportation around Narita, Japan (7 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
If your flight leaves at 4PM, you will need to show up at the airport by around 1PM. You would want to leave Tokyo (Shinjuku, Tokyo, or Ueno) by around 12 to reach the airport (the airport is about 40 minutes by JR express train from any of these three stations).

So, if you were coming from Kyoto, and wanted to stop in a ryokan on the way, you would have to make sure your rail connection (Shikansen) reached Tokyo station (a shinkansen stop) by around 12, so you could make a rail connection to get to Narita by 1. Obviously if you got to Narita at around 1 or 130 that would be good, so there is some leeway there. You would have to budget 30 minutes at Tokyo station to get the JR NEX express out to the airport without freaking out. I personally hate rushing for trains in Tokyo or Shinjuku station. Too stressful.

I don't know myself of any charming ryokan near Narita, although I am certain they exist, perhaps in Kamogawa or Tateyama. Maybe someone has some ideas. If you did choose something in Chiba, you would have to figure out how to get out there from Kyoto. If it takes about 4-5 hours to get to Narita airport from Kyoto, it's going to take 5-6 hours to get to a Chiba ryokan from Kyoto.

Obviously there are other options between Kyoto and Tokyo.

I run a tour planning business, and last year we sent some folks to this ryokan in Hakone. They (3 women - 2 daughters and their mother) liked it a lot apparently.

Hakone is on the southeast slope of Mount Fuji, and is about 15-20 minutes by local train from the Odawara Shinkansen stop. So, you could leave your hotel in Hakone at 10am, and expect to reach Narita by 1:30 at the latest.

Atami is another onsen town between Tokyo and Kyoto, and has its own Shinkansen stop. You can take a train from the Mishima stop to Shuzenji, which is another nice old onsen town.

But the ryokan I linked-to above is the only I could recommend based on the feedback from our clients.
posted by KokuRyu at 6:41 PM on June 9, 2014

If you want to spend money, you might want to take a look at the Tokyo Station Hotel. I haven't stayed there, but they gave me a tour when they first opened and it looked fabulous.

Or, Japanese-style rooms at the Claska. I stayed there and their service is really good, even compared to other Japanese hotels. The only problem is that if you have all your luggage with you, you'll have to take a taxi to the station because the location is a little inconvenient.

Andon Ryokan is also pretty great and probably only an hour and a half from the airport.
posted by betweenthebars at 9:00 PM on June 9, 2014

I would maybe reconsider the positioning of the top ryokan night.

There are a couple of nice ryokans in Narita - try these two? But I'd probably choose to do the treat night elsewhere, in the most amazing ryokan that works for your itinerary, rather than the last night. The best ryokan experiences I've had in Japan have all been in smaller places, a bit off the beaten track. The site I linked above has some good ones, plus there's no shortage of articles recommending them...

You could also consider using the awesome Takkyubin service to get your bags to the airport and just have light packing in your carry-on for your last night or two. I did this on the last trip as we'd been snowboarding - all the equipment went straight to the airport. Worked like a charm and well worth the (very reasonable) price to not be hauling huge bags around Tokyo. I agree 100% about not rushing the airport day - it's a surprisingly long way and there are some odd gaps in the NEX timetables where you can be in trouble if you miss your planned departure.
posted by tardigrade at 4:59 AM on June 10, 2014 [2 favorites]

I agree with tardigrade. Staying at a ryokan - a real one, not just a B&B with the word "ryokan" in its name - is supposed to be relaxing. You don't want to wake up and be worrying about catching your train. You arrive at around 3 or so, have some tea in your room, watch TV, and go take a bath (if it is a hot spring hotel). Dinner is served pretty early (they usually want to serve you no later than 6 if at all possible) and dinner lasts at least an hour, and hour and a half as different courses are prepared for you. After dinner you go for a walk around the neighbourhood, come back, take another bath, and turn in. You wake up in the morning and take another bath. While you're doing that they come and put away your futons, and get breakfast ready. You finish break by around 9, and then get changed. While checking out you lounge around in the lobby and drink coffee and buy souvenirs, and relax. And then, when you are mentally and spiritually ready, you leave.

Rushing to catch a train ruins the whole thing, I say (from past experience).
posted by KokuRyu at 10:08 AM on June 10, 2014 [3 favorites]

Adding to the "try to make your fancy ryokan stay somewhere else" chorus: while I'm not fortunate or moneyed enough to stay at one when I was there in 2008, there are plenty of fancy ryokan in Kyoto. So maybe that would be something you can consider if you haven't booked your Kyoto accommodations yet.
posted by Tsukushi at 11:05 AM on June 10, 2014

Response by poster: I understand why you're all pushing for us to reschedule, but part of the point of this is to soften the trip from Kyoto back to Narita airport. I'd consider finding room for two nights instead of one, so we could better enjoy the experience, but I can't really move it to a different part of the trip very easily. We've also booked the rest of our accommodations already.
posted by Narrative Priorities at 3:34 PM on June 10, 2014

Sounds like you need to have a look at Webpage looks a bit ... off compared to how it used to look, but it's legit and has lots of great reviews.
posted by Ms. Moonlight at 8:17 AM on June 13, 2014

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