What it’s Like to Stay at the Hoshinoya Fuji: Hotel Review

SUMMARY

This was an overall amazing stay! The modern glamping concept occupies a nice space in between standard hotels and more traditional ryokan type lodging, while still maintaining an atmosphere that feels distinctly Japanese. While the photos vs reality of hotel views can often disappoint, the Mt Fuji views here are legitimately fantastic, and Hoshinoya Fuji lives up to its luxury moniker.

Hoshinoya Fuji Hotel Review

I immediately fell in love with Hoshinoya Fuji when I was browsing hotels in the area. We had plans to attend the Pink Moss festival, and while I was originally imagining a practical Airbnb near Kawaguchiko Station, those serene, modern rooms with Mt Fuji views hooked me.

Hoshinoya Fuji calls itself a “glamping resort”, a charming, if not entirely accurate label. Modernist guest “cabins” are connected in staggered rows along a wooded hillside facing Lake Kawaguchi, and you’re presented with a backpack full of camping essentials like bug spray and binoculars upon check-in. However, rooms offer all the creature comforts you’d expect from a luxury hotel, and feature stunning views of Mt Fuji.

Location

The location of Hoshinoya Fuji, set above Lake Kawaguchiko and directly across from Mt Fuji, was a major selling point for me. Sure, there’s no shortage of hotels in the area, but there’s fewer that can compete with the amazing views and luxury setting. (the other drool-worthy Fuji view hotel I was considering does have the added feature of onsen, but it’s twice the price!)

The hotel is a 20 minute taxi ride from Kawaguchiko Station, which is easily accessed from Tokyo. There’s a number of train and bus options that will get you to Kawaguchiko Station, including one direct Fujikyu Railways train. There’s onsite parking available as well if you’re driving.

Those who drive will find it easier to get around, but in general, a stay at Hoshinoya Fuji is best for rest and relaxation at the resort itself. With its location up on a hill, a bit away from town, you’ll want a car or taxi to leave the resort (though there are bicycles available to borrow if you’d like). Staff are happy to arrange a taxi and a ride down to the reception, but it’s a bit of a production. Taxi costs will also add up quickly.

This wasn’t an issue for us– in fact I appreciated those limitations. After 10 days running around Tokyo, I needed an excuse to relax.

Check-in

The resort is located on a hillside, up a winding, single lane private-access road. You’ll begin check-in at a small airy reception building at the foot of the hill, and select your preferred backpack to borrow from the large wall display. From there, staff drive you up the hill to check in at the main building, and deliver luggage directly to your room.

During check-in, staff will schedule your meal reservations and arrange sign-up for any activities you’d like to participate in. The two phase process and details to decide on mean that check-in takes a little longer, but you’ll be sitting with a glass of herbal tea and forest view for most of the process.

Note that check-in is only available from 3pm-9pm. You’ll want to contact the hotel beforehand if you must arrive outside of those hours.

The Room

We booked a D Cabin– described as King Bed with Mountain View on Expedia.

I’d recommend checking availability at Expedia and Booking.com first, as their room rates are significantly cheaper than booking directly through Hoshinoya. Hoshinoya’s booking process is also a little confusing, as they list rates per person, per night, so that what initially looks like a deal comes out to be quite a bit more expensive.

From reception, you’ll walk down to your private cabin. There’s umbrellas and rain boots for inclement weather just outside the door, and slippers inside.

We booked this stay roughly in the middle of a 2 1/2 week trip, sandwiched in between Tokyo and Osaka. The serenity of the setting was exactly what I needed, and I couldn’t resist sinking into the fluffy bed before snapping photos.

I thought the big cozy coats were such a cool touch, but as with everything else here, available sizes are tailored to the Japanese frame. Not an issue for me, but Devin looked like a giant trying to squeeze into the coat, with the sleeves stopping mid-forearm.

The large blackout curtain did a good, if not perfect, job of blocking light in the morning, and blinds can be lowered over the patio door as well.

With so much natural light coming in the window, additional lighting wasn’t necessary during the day. The soft lighting above the bed could be adjusted with controls on either side of the bed and by a panel by the door. There were ample outlets by the bed, along with a small radio.

The bathroom was simple and spacious, with a deep soaking tub and Japanese toilet with all the bells and whistles. The shower setup in our room was a little awkward, as more often than not, Japanese bathrooms have a separate shower area, rather than showering in the tub.

Basic amenities were provided, including moisturizer packets and a Hinoki and Mulberry scented bath packet that smelled divine. I do think they missed the mark on the shampoo, conditioner and body wash, though, which had a chemical salon shampoo type odor. Something more natural (1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge’s incredible cedar scented toiletries come to mind) would have been welcomed.

I’m a sucker for a bathtub with a view, so I made sure to book a room with a bathroom view. All rooms have Fuji views, but only the King Bed rooms have views from the bathroom as well. Our large bathroom window looked out over the balcony and toward Mt Fuji. (I kept the blinds down for modesty, but they can be completely lifted for an unobstructed view).

Bath with a view of Mt Fuji (when it’s not cloudy)

The huge balcony cushion is such a pleasant spot to relax, and those provided coats came in handy. We visited in early May, but due to the elevation it could still be a bit chilly during the day and cold enough to merit the provided coat at night.

If you stay during the winter, your balcony will be outfitted with a kotatsu (and a couple rooms have an old-fashioned wood stove on the balcony!). But I imagine the resort would be incredible during the summer; still warm, yet a welcome relief from the stifling heat of Tokyo.

If you wish, staff will light the sunken fireplace in your balcony ledge each evening. It doesn’t put off any real heat, but does contribute to the glamping aesthetic.

The Property

The resort is arranged in levels up the hillside, with rows of staggered cabins at the lower level. Only guests are permitted on the property, and the relatively small number of cabins means that you don’t need to jockey for lounge space up on the terraces.

It probably goes without saying, but the property is not handicap accessible. Those with limited mobility may be able to work with the hotel to arrange a cabin closest to the road and easier to access. However, the sheer abundance of stairs will make it difficult to enjoy the full resort.

Several flights of steps up from the guest rooms is the Dining Hall and staff desk, along with a small gift shop. You can grab a drink here in the evenings, as well as at the Cloud Terrace.

At the top level is the Cloud Terrace, with wide patios and plenty of cozy seating areas.

The small Library Cafe building at the Cloud Terrace offers refreshments, s’mores fixings, and small snacks throughout the day, along with books, newspapers and even blankets for chilly weather.

At night, old movies are projected onto the canvas shades, a nice selection of Japanese whiskey is available for sipping, and there’s even live music.

Beyond lounging at the resort, Hoshinoya Fuji offers a number of nature activities like canoeing and hiking that you can sign up for– most for an extra fee. There are also a couple free activities: aerial stretching, a short hike for children, and participation in wood chopping for the bonfire. We were tempted by the hike in Aokigahara forest, but less so by the 6am start time and $60 per person fees, and ultimately didn’t take advantage of any of the formal activities.

Food

If you’re staying at Hoshinoya Fuji, you’ll probably be eating most of your meals there. As I mentioned in the location section, you’ll want a car or taxi to leave the resort, and won’t find much within walking distance.

We hadn’t fully considered those logistics when we booked, and I was originally thinking we might eschew the resort’s dining options for cheaper fare. Fortunately, the food turned out to be fantastic, and the relative isolation was a good excuse to relax at the resort for a couple days without the usual city FOMO.

There are multiple dining options, including room service, for each meal. You could theoretically order every meal delivered to your cabin to be enjoyed with that gorgeous Mt Fuji view.

Staff will schedule your meals when you check in. However, if you’re intent on a particular schedule or dining experience, I’d recommend contacting the hotel ahead of time, as you may find that some options are already booked up on the evening of your arrival.

With so many steps, a room service cart won’t cut it here. Still, I was surprised to see our breakfast box delivered by a staff member wearing a huge metal framed backpack filled with all our goodies. The same held for our glamping curry shown below, even with all the heavy pots!

The breakfast box (about $25 a person) above, was a favorite, and one of the better values available. With fresh bread, salad, soup, omelet, sausage, veggies, yogurt, and granola, it’s a huge–and delicious– breakfast.

Dinner in the Dining Hall (about $90 a person), was also excellent.

Presentation is consistently careful and beautiful. The high quality fresh veggies in the appetizer paired with the miso dip were a revelation–and the server was kind enough to write down the recipe for the miso dip when I expressed interest.

The only meal we weren’t as impressed with was the glamping curry. This room service option looked awesome on paper, but fell a little flat. At around $50 for two people, it was comparatively economical, but the portion sizes were on the small side, and the food was just ok. The presentation was nice, and hewing to the rustic theme, they include small bottles of spices along with a heavy cast iron spice grinder to doctor up your curry if you like.

There are additional neat food experiences, like a Forest Pizza Workshop, and Dutch Oven dinner in the outdoor Forest Kitchen. With nicer weather, I’d have given one or both a try.

The Forest Kitchen is roped off when it’s not in use, so I wasn’t able to snap any photos of that dining area. But all of Hoshinoya Fuji’s outdoor dining spaces looked lovely, and I’d definitely recommend taking advantage of the beautiful setting to eat al fresco if weather permits.

Service & Amenities

When you check in, you’ll be asked to select a backpack from the wall to use during your stay. The backpack includes a headlamp, binoculars, bug spray, a small inflatable seating mat, refillable water bottle and biscotti. The biscotti is complimentary and the water bottle is yours to take home. All other items must be returned at the end of your stay.

While there is minimal lighting to assist in navigation throughout the resort at night, you will probably want that headlamp or the flashlight provided in your room. I loved that they didn’t go overboard with the nighttime lighting: it made a trip up to the Cloud Terrace feel a little more like an adventure.

I can’t believe I forgot to take a photo of it, but the room keys (real, solid keys!) include a wooden fob that doubles as a bird call. It’s a beautiful touch, and representative of how committed Hoshinoya Fuji is to the rustic aesthetic of the property, even in the small details.

Rooms are stocked with comfy cotton pajamas that I was very tempted to take home! (you can also purchase them in the gift shop). As with the coats, sizes are limited. Larger sizes are available on request, but only up to about a women’s large/ extra large.

Rooms are stocked with tea, coffee, tin camping style mugs and electric kettles. You’ll find a selection of juice and alcohol in the mini fridge, along with gelato and tinned meat (I wasn’t too eager to try that). The bottled water in the fridge is complimentary, and re-stocked daily, which I appreciated.

There’s no TV in the room for obvious reasons, however the WiFi is excellent, and free.

Hoshinoya’s custom Jeep Wranglers provide drop off and pick up anytime you’d like to come and go. Staff deliver and pick up luggage directly to and from your room.

Service was predictably great throughout our stay. Every staff member we interacted with spoke English, and was gracious and friendly.

We’d saved up some postcards to mail, which the staff quickly took care of for us, adding the nominal fees to our bill. Any dining or other purchases made at the resort are added to your bill, so there’s no need to carry a wallet (Service fees are added to dining, but tipping is not otherwise expected for handling luggage, etc.). If we’d stayed a little longer, I imagine I could have racked up quite a bill sampling Japanese whiskey each evening!

When I booked via Expedia, I remember seeing a note about a separate resort fee charged at the hotel, but there was no additional charge on our final bill.

Overall Impressions

This was an overall amazing stay! The modern glamping concept occupies a nice space in between standard hotels and more traditional ryokan type lodging, while still maintaining an atmosphere that feels distinctly Japanese. In my experience, photos vs reality of hotel views can often disappoint, yet the Mt Fuji views here are legitimately fantastic, and Hoshinoya Fuji lives up to its luxury moniker.


Check rates for Hoshinoya Fuji on Booking.com and Expedia


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