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Reviewed 7 November 2014

As far as ryokans go, Hibikino was one of the best we've stayed with, combining a stunningly beautiful interior; spotless, comfortable rooms; excellent hot spring baths; and the warm, courteous service one learns to expect from Japanese ryokans. This is however somewhat marred by its distance from the Ikaho Onsen town center and the various attractions in the vicinity. You'll likely find yourself taking the bus to get anywhere, which is limiting when the buses are infrequent and don't run late.

Getting to the ryokan from out of town isn't difficult: one can take the JR Highway Bus from Shinjuku and stop at the "Ikaho Onsen" (伊香保温泉) bus stop, then find the hotel after a 5 minute walk downhill. We arrived in autumn and the trees outside were already turning shades of yellow and red. The ryokan's interior was just beautiful - the lobby area and the walkway to the dining rooms were some of the prettiest I've seen. The traditional japanese rooms were pretty standard-issue, were clean, spacious and comfortable - though the lack of a balcony was for me a minor disappointment. Uncharacteristically, even the standard japanese rooms came with private toilets AND baths - an important plus for foreign travelers not comfortable with shared bathing.

That said, one should certainly strive to experience the onsen baths. The public (gender-separated) baths include a great open air, roofless tub sitting just a couple of meters away from the wooded garden - sublime atmosphere for a hot dip. For a fee you can also reserve one of four private onsen baths to yourself for forty five minutes at a time. The one we tried was really nice and luxurious (and hot!), but was small and would fit only one or at most two people at a time.

Dinner kaiseki was served not in-room but in a designated dining room - one of a dozen or so dining rooms lining the beautiful decorated walkway on the second floor. It was delicious, featuring an interesting original dish where one oil-fries some colorful looking items on sticks that turned out to be savory. Portion-wise it was a little on the small side compared with some of the other kaiseki dinners we've had. Breakfast was served at the same place, and was simpler but also very tasty. The waitress who served our food was very polite and tried her best to communicate with us even though most of us didn't speak japanese.

The ryokan does appear to be lean on staff count, and it can get very quiet in the lobby area especially in the hours before check in time (which is 3pm). We were a little surprised showing up at 12pm to an apparently empty lobby, though someone came running once we called a greeting. We noticed the staff member at the front desk doubled as the cashier in the souvenir store, and when we left at around 2pm there were only a pair of staff members in the vast lobby, who nonetheless sent us off with deep bows and warm thanks. Few of the staff seemed to be comfortable speaking english, and while they gamely tried to communicate with all of us, most of the important conversations were carried out in Japanese with myself, being the one person in our group who spoke passable japanese.

While we enjoyed the ryokan immensely, it was a little harder than we'd prefer to get around town from the ryokan. There is a bus stop directly in front of the ryokan, but the sole bus that stops there is very small (kind of like a van). We couldn't squeeze on several times and had to walk 5 minutes steeply uphill to Miharashita bus stop instead for a few more bus lines. Ikaho is a small town so the buses are quite infrequent, so I'd recommend looking up the bus schedules beforehand, or failing that to immediately take pictures of the schedules posted on the bus stops. It is unfortunately quite unfeasible to get to places on foot, as most of the major points of interests are quite far from the ryokan. You'd probably want to save your leg energy for walking around rather than towards the attractions.

Of course, if you come in your own vehicle, these issues don't apply. The ryokan even has a parking lot.

  • Stayed: October 2014, travelled with family
    • Sleep Quality
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    • Service
1  Thank Jasonmoofang
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 6 May 2018 via mobile
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Stayed: May 2018, travelled with family
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 11 February 2018 via mobile
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Stayed: February 2018, travelled as a couple
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Reviewed 13 January 2018 via mobile
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Stayed: January 2018, travelled with friends
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Reviewed 18 October 2017
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  • Stayed: October 2017, travelled on business
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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