We stayed for one night at Beniayu in August 2012. It's a beautiful location on the northern end of Lake Biwa, and quite easy to get to: you get off the shinkansen at Maibara and take a 20 minute local train ride to Takatsuki Station, where the ryokan staff will pick you up in a van to drive you the few minutes to the inn, and take you back to the station in the morning after you check out. This made it very easy for us to spend a night at this ryokan while we were transitioning from Osaka to Tokyo during our trip.
While the building is not "old," it's very nice inside and the rooms are large. Each room has an onsen (hot spring)-fed bath with a view over the lake. The service was great, and the food (we had the kaiseki B meal) was absolutely terrific; we were served a nine-course meal delivered with an English-language menu describing each course in detail, and each course was delicious. Dinner was served in our room, and breakfast the next morning (also delicious) was in a common room. Not all staff spoke English, but there was at least one English speaker present on staff at all times.
While all ryokan that serve kaiseki meals of this quality are expensive, Beniayu was actually economical compared to other ryokan that we considered. We would go there again very happily and definitely recommend this ryokan.
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