The zen-like experience of staying in a ryokan generally revolves around soaking in the onsens, enjoying the natural surroundings, drinking green tea, napping and indulging in memorable meals. Other activities include strolling around the gardens and local neighbourhood. Traditionally, ryokans have been simple lodgings, sparsely decorated with none of the frills and facilities of a standard hotel. However, in recent years, hoteliers have taken the concept and transformed the humble ryokan into the ultimate luxury accommodation option.
Ryokans vary greatly in terms of size, quality, cost and style. Some are small and family-run, while others can have hundreds of rooms. As a general rule, ryokans tend to be smaller than hotels. On the whole, ryokans charge a per-person rate and you can expect to pay on average between 15,000 and 50,000 Japanese Yen per night, with the most luxurious ryokans charging up to 80,000 per person. Tipping, however, is neither expected nor common. As ryokans tend to be more expensive than the average hotel, they are rare in cities such as Tokyo and Kyoto and are more often found in rural areas, providing a relaxing, rejuvenating escape for city dwellers. Common features include peaceful grounds, an emphasis on nature and, more often than not, beautiful views of the mountains.