The World’s Oldest Hotel Has Been Dispensing Hospitality for More Than 1300 Years

Japan’s Nishiyama Onsen Keiunkan has been in operation since 705 CE.

The Nishiyama Onsen Keiunkan in Japan.
The Nishiyama Onsen Keiunkan in Japan. / Boltor, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 4.0

There are old buildings, and then there’s the Nishiyama Onsen Keiunkan. When guests step into this ornate hotel near Mount Fuji in Japan, they’re continuing a tradition that dates back to 705 CE—making the Keiunkan the oldest continuously operated hotel in history.

Located in Yamanashi Prefecture, the inn’s main attraction is its hot springs, which are said to have run without interruption since the business opened 1300 years ago. For 52,000 yen (about $355), guests can enjoy a mountain view and bathing privileges in the springs. There are both indoor and outdoor baths available, and guests are welcome to drink from the springs. (Though you’ll want to avoid sipping the bathwater.)

The inn was founded by Fujiwara Mahito during the Keiun era, hence the name Keiunkan. (Nishiyama means “western mountain,” while onsen means “hot springs.”) It’s reportedly played host to remarkable guests over the centuries, from shoguns to current Japanese Emperor Naruhito. To honor its heritage, the inn embraces traditional iconography, with handwritten signs and waitstaff in kimonos.

The endurance of the business hasn’t been without challenges. Fires in the early 20th century damaged the building, which has been moved multiple times. It has also endured natural disasters like typhoons. Its status as the world’s oldest hotel earned it a Guinness World Records acknowledgement.

If you feel like a tour of other near-immortal attractions, you can also check out the world’s oldest restaurant. The Restaurante Botín in Madrid has been serving customers since 1725.