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“Great bar”
Review of Kamenoi Besso

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Kamenoi Besso
Ranked #14 of 149 Hotels / Ryokan in Yufu
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed 10 April 2017 via mobile

Great place to have a drink and listen to a little jazz. It old wood beams are beautiful and give a comfortable warmth to the place. There is a library upstairs and old jazz albums on the walls. The wait staff speaks a little English and was very helpful.

Stayed: April 2017, travelled as a couple
Thank Lance S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed 19 March 2017

Located in Yufuin Onsen in Oita Prefecture, this ryokan is one of the three most famous in the area, with many rating it as the top of the three. Many people regarded the success of these three ryokans as the reason why this small town was so popular for visitors. The ryokan has more than 80 years of history, covering 30000 sq.m with traditional village style houses, and adjacent to the beautiful Lake Kinrin.

Hearing our car approaching the staff came out already to greet us, and taking our luggage inside. The reception area is beautifully decorated, having a renovated contemporary feel in a traditional village home construction. The staff were able to communicate nicely in English and check us in without any problem.

There are only a total of 15 houses and the staff led us walk through the corridor to our house, while at the same time explaining the location of the public bath and library. Our house is No. 6, on the outskirt of the complex, and approaching the door it gave me a good feeling of going home.

The house is huge in size. The Japanese style living room is spacious, and an interesting facility is the pot heater at the side. This heater is fueled by charcoal pieces, prepared before we entered the room, and the metal pot sitting on top already got hot water waiting for us. The staff helped to brew us some wonderful green tea while confirming our dinner and breakfast time, and also explaining the neighborhood for us to walk around.

Adjacent to the living room is a small balcony looking out into our private garden. Apart from two comfortable chairs, there is also a water basin and small pantry at the side so we can prepare coffee and tea. An interesting modern contrast to the charcoal heater in the living room.

The bedroom is Western style, with two comfortable beds and also windows on two sides, again looking out into our private garden. It is cozy and warm, and even before sleeping I already knew it would help me relax and giving me a sweet dream.

Like most such luxurious ryokan, the toilet, changing room and bathroom are separated. The bathroom has two water basins so you don't need to fight in the morning, and there is also a towel heater to ensure you got a warm one after enjoying your bath, which is so thoughtful in the chilling season.

The bathroom has a semi-open bath, with the wooden bathtub big and allowing a good stretch to relax during the bath. And the windows on the sides can both be completely opened, adding the glass rooftop it is a wonderful and highly soothing space to enjoy your time.

After checking out the room we went out on the backdoor to the private garden. And also from the outside we could better appreciate the look and feel of the house itself. The garden is very large, effectively surrounding the house on two sides. There is a tranquility in the air, with everything very quiet and peaceful. The weather on the day was also perfect, with good sunlight, cool but not cold, and also ideal for coming out to watch the stars in the evening.

We then decided to take a look at the other facilities in the ryokan. First we went to the library, which is a standalone building in the complex, When I took a photo of the building, the window on the top floor reflected the beautiful mountains at the back and it looked like a large painting indeed.

Inside there are some comfortable coffee tables and chairs, and a gramaphone playing nice music. But the most notable is certainly the smell of wood fire! At the side there is a fireplace and in it there are some logs burning, offering the warmth to the room and also the fragrance.

There are coffee and tea served in the library which are free for guests to enjoy, and as it is a library, there are also plenty of books on the bookshelves for one to spend a relaxing afternoon reading.

We decided to go to the public bath in the next morning, so after walking out to the main street for some sightseeing and snacks, retired back to the room before changing to yukata and went over to the restaurant Yunotakean for dinner. The ryokan guests were seated in a side room, and we were provided with menu.

The first and second course is Japanese Vegetable with Seasoning, and Home-made Sesame Tofu. The vegetable are very fresh and boiled in stock to bring out and enhance the original taste, while the tofu is rich in sesame flavors. However, on the plating and quantity it is a bit mediocre for me and let me wonder whether the meal would be anywhere close to what I had experienced in other famous ryokan so far.

The third course is Trout Marinated with Kelp. The kelp is a form of seaweed which is full of nutrients and the trout is fresh and tender, with the ginger mash and the yam paste giving a kick as well as the unique texture, though not particularly impressive.

The fourth course is Japanese Radish and Wild Boar. The radish has fully absorbed the stock so it is rich in flavors and tasty, plus the wild boar pieces has a more chewy texture, offering stronger pork flavors at the same time.

The fifth course is Watercress Soup. Similar to how a French restaurant would serve such soup, the staff used a small jug to bring the soup in, and the bowls were settled in front of us before the staff poured the soup from the jug. The color is a beautiful matcha green, and the aromas are really nice that you can smell it without even drinking a single drop. It is also served in a teacup.

The sixth course is Fried Surf Smelt, which are essentially tempura of fish, shrimp and vegetables. All the ingredients are very fresh and the tempura is able to keep the original good taste of them. However, it is a bit too oily with a clear oil stain on the piece of paper underneath after finishing the tempura, which I hope the ryokan can improve in future.

The seventh course is a Salad to cleanse our palate, and for my setting they brought me some pickled radish instead, mainly because I changed from the beef to eel for my main course. Even though simple, the radish is right in the sweet and sour balance and are nice and I can't stop eating.

The eighth course is my main course, which is Grilled Eel. The original menu is serving Steak of Japanese Beef but I opted for this, and without regret, as the eel is grilled perfectly, with the sauce giving a great savory taste. The quality of this grilled eel, in my opinion, could compete with some of the more renown restaurants.

The ninth course is Rice with Grilled Trout Fish, served with Miso Soup and Pickles. It is a really good dish, with the small trout light and tasty, grilled perfectly. After showing us the rice and fish the staff then helped to detach the meat from the fish and mix well with the rice, and then served us with them. A form of traditional village delicacies I believe, it is a great example of how the rural style can make some wonderful dishes.

The dessert is a Vanilla Ice-cream, plus a small glass of black sugar syrup(?). It is also a bit too simple and probably also sum up the overall feedback from me on the dinner. Frankly if this is what the ryokan can offer at this price level, it is a bit disappointing.

After a good night sleep we got up early in the morning to enjoy the sunshine, and then walked to the public bath to enjoy some private time. Ivy had the luck of having the whole bath for herself, but I have to share with another gentleman. The bath is comprised of indoor and outdoor part. With the indoor portion built like having a tree in the middle, branching out to hold the roof. The outdoor got a similar bath as the one in our house, plus another circular bath. Overall it was a nice setting and highly relaxing.

Returning to the room our breakfast is also getting ready. It is a traditional Japanese breakfast set, with egg, fish, salad, pickles, tofu, rice and miso soup. Not much frill for the dishes, but I like it even better than the dinner on the previous night. And having the meal served in our room also provided a good privacy and comfort as well.

Overall I would say the hardware for this ryokan in terms of the environment, the atmosphere of a rural village style yet offering comfortable houses are one of the best experience, only that the quality of the food could substantially improve to make this ryokan matched its fame.

The cost for my stay is 97,608 yen, and my overall rating is 7.5/10.

  • Stayed: March 2017, travelled as a couple
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Service
Thank Peter C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 19 November 2016 via mobile

With the disappointment at Ryokan Tanokura, just across the road within the beautiful precinct of Lake Kinrin lies Kamenoi Besso.
The entrance garden was amazingly beautiful. The lobby was filled with very tasteful mid century Scandinavian furniture yet the moment you step out on the path to your room, its classic Japanese ryokan at its best.
The room is classical and immaculately maintained (the ryokan was built in 1900 by a beppu businessman as his private resort).
Best of all, the food is yum yum yum. The pairing of the dishes is 3 star Michelin if not more.
Would I return? Most definitely, YES!

(Ryokan Adventure in Kyushu-Takefue, Tanokura, Kameou Besso)

Stayed: November 2016, travelled as a couple
2  Thank BorneoNomad
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 2 July 2016 via mobile

I spent one night at this lovely hotel. It was really a great place to relax. I booked a Japanese Western room, which turned out to be a house with a small backyard, with onsen in the bathroom. There was a Japanese living room, and a bedroom with two beds. This is great for people who are not used to tatami in Japanese rooms.

The hotel is right next to a small beautiful lake. They also gave us a map for a one hour walk in the neighbourhood. It was a nice walk passing by many different places such as temple, bridge, farmland, garden and the beautiful lake.

Food was great as well. We had lunch at the restaurant but dinner and breakfast in the room. All of them were delicious, with a good variety of seafood, vegetables and tender beef.

Stayed: June 2016, travelled as a couple
Thank chandg
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 4 November 2015

Kamennoi besso is one of the best luxury ryokan in Japan. It is also one of the first ryokan which revitalized Yufuin and made Yufuin famous as in today.

Its interior and Japanese garden are perfectly beautiful beyond a word can explain. It makes you suddenly forgot that you are in a 21th century. It is like a dream that you were in Japan in Meiji era. The experience is really worth the money that you pay.

Another great thing is their authentic Japanese cuisine. I had a fantastic 11 courses dinner here. Many exotic dishes that hard to find even in Japan. Sushi of many exotic fishes, very fresh uni, matsuska beef, grilled matsutake mushroom soup, and many more. I also asked the staff to pair sake for me and I got Fukuoka sake which matched perfectly with the cuisine.

  • Stayed: March 2015, travelled with family
    • Value
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3  Thank Karn C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 18 February 2015 via mobile

A traditional style ryokan but everything in tip top condition. I especially like the cozy sitting areas at the lobby where they serve complimentary plum wine to guests. We had a very nice and spacious western room with twin beds. There's an onsen bath inside the bathroom but I prefer the public open baths at the ryokan. They provide massage chairs in the changing room. The highlight of our 2-night stay had to be the exquisite dinners (and breakfasts) they served. The kaiseki dinner on the first night was a feast to the eye by itself, everything was artistically presented and tasted so good. The second night we had Shabu Shabu and it was wonderful as well. Last but not least, our serveur was most attentive and friendly (sorry, forgot his name) and handsome too, he looks more like an actor :))
The only thing we didn't like was the access to the hotel. You have to drive in and out through narrow roads and battle with oncoming cars and endless crowds of tourists- which was really a pain. Nevertheless, Kamenoi Bessou will still be our choice should we visit Yufuin again.

  • Stayed: December 2014
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
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Thank TPHK
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 20 August 2013

Very traditional Japanese Ryokan. Modest and warm service of "ryokan" is very different from that of a "hotel", but this is what I wanted. Yufuin has gotten so touristy and the whole town was full of Korean/Chinese/Taiwanese tourists. But once you enter the Kamenoi entrance, there is this quiet garden with thatched roofs. These roofs/building/garden must be extremely hard to maintain, and I have understood the price to stay at this hotel.
I have stayed in June but there were some ants crawling in our room. Its some problems that old buildings might have and was not to the point which annoyed me. As for the rooms and facilities, there is a normal bath in your room and also a very small tub in your garden. The water quality was okay but as I prefer sulfur springs and heavy water, it felt a little bit plain. There is one public bath (which I did not try), and was a small coffee lounge/library where you can read books while you listen to the classical musics (coffee was quite nice). Few walks away and you can go to their shop which is open to public.
Dinner was very traditional and nice, nothing to complain - they made us the rice balls with the left over rice for our late night snacks.

I have stayed in Murata as well, Murata is more of the modern and comfortable room/service while Kamenoi is more of the traditional Japanese style. Its two different style and hard to compare.

  • Stayed: June 2013, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
2  Thank erika-lux-miller
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Kamenoi Besso

Address: 2633-1 Yufuin-cho Kawakami,, Yufu 879-5102, Oita Prefecture
Region: Japan > Kyushu-Okinawa > Oita Prefecture > Yufu > Yufuin Station , Yufuin Onsen
Hotel Style:
Ranked #14 of 149 Hotels / Ryokan in Yufu
Price Range: $586 - $1,099 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Number of rooms: 21
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