Nishiyama Onsen Keiunkan, The Oldest Hotel in the World

Nishiyama Onsen Keiunkan (西山温泉慶雲館) is a hot spring hotel in Hayakawa, Yamanashi Prefecture, Japan. Founded in 705 AD, it is the oldest hotel and one of the oldest companies in operation. In 2011, the hotel was officially recognised by the Guinness World Records as the oldest hotel in the world.

Nestled among a number of picturesque hot springs in the mountains, the traditionally styled Nishiyama Onsen Keiunkan is a modern, four-star facility, last renovated in 1997 and boasting everything from 37 traditional tatami mat-floored rooms to a karaoke bar to a restaurant serving locally sourced koshu beef, the swank establishment sits over six natural baths frequented by patrons eager to drop €250 to €650 per night to get away from it all.

It was first established as a traditional Japanese “onsen” (hot spring) where people can come to relax and unwind by Fujiwara Mahito in 705 AD. The natural hot springs in the area enabled Mahito to build several healing baths that drew guests from all over Japan, including famed shoguns, samurais, and other military men who helped to popularize the inn.

From its inception, the Keiunkan Onsen has been passed down within the original family (including adopted heirs) through the centuries. 52 different generations of descendants have cared for and operated the inn, growing the space and modernizing it slowly with each passing era.

By comparison, the oldest hotel in Europe, Zum Roten Bären in Freiburg, supposedly dates back to 1120. Yet it pales in comparison to the second, third, and fourth oldest inns in Japan, all of which soundly predate it. In fact, six of the world’s ten oldest continually run businesses are in Japan, and 56 percent of the world’s companies older than two centuries are Japanese. Germany comes in a far second, housing 14 percent of all the worlds two-centuries-old companies.