Arashiyama monkey park with a monkey in front and Kyoto in the background

Where to stay Kyoto edition: best areas and hotels

Kyoto is definitely one of the most beautiful cities in Japan. There are so many interesting things all over the (huge!) place to see and do that finding the best place in Kyoto where to stay is not that easy.

That’s why I’ve compiled this list of different areas in Kyoto and the reasons why it’s a good place to stay in. Or not, for that matter.

Plus, I’ve done the not-easy job of reading different hotel reviews to find the best ones in those areas!

Here you go!

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The best areas of Kyoto to stay in for your first trip

Booking.com

Well, obviously, the best area to stay in Kyoto for your first trip depends on your priorities, what you enjoy and what you want to see.

But shortly, the area around Kyoto station, Downtown Kyoto (the area north of the railway station alongside the metro line towards Gojo and Shijo stations), as well as southern Higashiyama and Gion are all perfect places for accommodation.

There are plenty of places to eat and the areas are convenient for getting to various places of interest.

Kyoto offers a range of hotels, from luxury to standard business hotels, as well as ryokans. So, it’s not really easy to choose the best area. But I myself prefer these three.

There area where we stayed in Kyoto – Downtown Kyoto

As mentioned in our Kyoto itinerary, we stayed in the Shijo area, specifically the Smile Hotel Kyoto Shijo. Shijo is actually a part of Downtown Kyoto.

 I talk more about it later in the article, but Downtown Kyoto is a really good area to stay in, especially for first-timers.

Kyoto Station – the best area in Kyoto where to stay for first-timers because of the great transport connections

a sign in Hiroshima station in Japan

Kyoto station, as the name suggests, is a railway station. Actually, it’s one of the biggest ones in Japan – which is saying something. You’ll definitely find yourself going to Kyoto station if you want to check out different sides of Kyoto.

This is the station where Japan Rail Pass trains depart from and arrive, so if you plan to use the JR Pass, it’s definitely convenient to stay here.

There are not too many temples around the station but still, the abundance of restaurants, shops, and entertainment options make up for it. Plus, unlike in many other countries, the area around the Kyoto station is safe.

lunch in a restaurant in Kyoto station
Kaiseki lunch in Kyoto station

Where to stay in Kyoto Station Area

Luxury

The Thousand Kyoto

The Thousand Kyoto is located 2 minutes from the Kyoto station. That means, it’s definitely a good place in Kyoto where to stay for those who want to use public transport often.

The rooms are very big and very… luxurious, really, that’s one of the most precise ways to describe them. The design is quite minimalistic and more Western-y than the Japanese style, but you still get that Japanese traditional touch. It’s hard to explain, better check the pictures.

Some rooms even have terraces with small gardens, and there’s even a spa suite which has its own onsen in the room. Of course, all of the rooms have amenities that should be in a five-star hotel. And – hand-made tea sets. Fancy.

The Thousand Kyoto has a spa and wellness area, as well as a gym. You can enjoy an onsen (surcharge) and massages. There are two restaurants available – a traditional Japanese seasonal one and an Italian one -, and a tea house. If you want to try anything else, though, the Kyoto station area offers whatever you can dream of.

The only downside of the Thousand is the price. It’s luxury, alright, and you reaaaly pay for it.

Read more information and reviews on Booking.com
Hotel Kanra Kyoto

Kanra Kyoto is located a bit of a walk from Kyoto station – 14 minutes, according to them, but still, it’s quite close enough. The best thing about this location is that it’s quieter than right around the station.

The rooms are big and light, and some of them even have terraces. What’s interesting is that the baths in the rooms are made of wooden cypress. Some rooms offer their own personal onsen outside on the balcony or terrace. Luxury at its finest! Of course, toiletries are for free, and you get a yukata to use as nightwear.

There’s a spa available as well in the Kanra Kyoto, with massages and different treatments available. And there’s a possibility to have a pre- or postnatal massage as well.

Kanra Kyoto has two restaurants on-site – a teppanyaki and an Italian. For breakfast, you can choose between a traditional Japanese one or a western one. My suggestion – go for the Japanese one!

Read more information and reviews on Booking.com
two people in front of kinkakuji golden temple in kyoto, japan

Midrange hotels in the Kyoto station area

Hotel Granvia Kyoto

Granvia Kyoto is located within Kyoto station, so it’s pretty much the best place where to stay in the Kyoto station “area”, haha. Some rooms here come with a view of the Kyoto tower.

And even more than that, as you can see, it’s a 5-star hotel. But don’t let that scare you – most of the year, it costs around 100$ a night to stay in a double room in Granvia Kyoto. So, basically, you can stay in a luxury hotel for a midrange price. Obviously, during times such as Cherry Blossom season, the price goes up – even five times higher. But that’s for all the hotels.

The rooms in the hotel are quite large and beautifully decorated, with big beds and a seating area. You get all the amenities that you’d expect from a five star hotel, such as brand toiletries, robes, pyjamas, razors, and so much more. You can even get a humidifier on request.

There’s a fitness centre and a wellness area. That includes a pool, sauna and a hot tub. Sadly, though, there’s an extra charge to access those, unless you’re staying in the Deluxe rooms or the suites. To access the pool, you have to wear a swimming cap (which can be rented at the hotel). You can book a massage as well.

 As for food, you’d be near the station, so there are plenty of options there. But still, there’s breakfast – Japanese or “American”, which can be served in-room as well. Plus, there are many restaurants where you have different choices of food for dinner or lunch.

Read more information and reviews on Booking.com
Daiwa Roynet Hotel Kyoto Ekimae

Daiwa Roynet is just a 4-minute walk away from the Kyoto station. The hotel and the station are directly connected by an underground passage, so you don’t have to worry about traffic or the weather.

The rooms are not the biggest, but they aren’t small, either. I like the design, which is kind of darker Japanese modern. And you get all the amenities you’d expect in a hotel in Japan, such as toiletries, toothbrush and paste set, nightwear, etc. Plus, there’s both a bath and a shower in the hotel. And of course, the high-tech toilet!

There’s a breakfast buffet with options from Western, Japanese, and Vietnamese cuisines. So, there’s everything from croissants to curries for breakfast.

One of the facilities that Daiwa Roynet provides that’s worth mentioning is luggage storage. So, if you arrive before check-in or plan to explore Kyoto after your check out, you don’t have to worry about storing the luggage or picking it up before the train.

Read more information and reviews on Booking.com
Richmond Hotel Premier Kyoto Ekimae

Richmond Hotel Premier Kyoto Ekimae is located just a short walk from the station. It has a lovely Japanese garden inside the premises which looks very lovely.

The rooms in the hotel are not the biggest, but they do offer all you need for a comfortable stay in Kyoto. You get all the amenities which you’d expect in a hotel. There’s a bath in the room, which allows for a nice soak after exploring all day.

The breakfast options seemed a bit confusing to me. The English website states that you can choose a “meal” type breakfast out of 6 options – Grilled fish meal of today’s recommendation, “Tai-chazuke” Porridge with roasted bream meal, American breakfast meal, Curry udon meal, Duck’s meat soup, with Kyoto vegetable meal, and Beef Boul meal. But the Japanese website states that there’s a buffet breakfast. Anyways, it’s supposed to be a very good breakfast.

What is quite special about the Richmond, though, is that in addition to the breakfast, you get some other meals for free. There’s afternoon tea with soft drinks and sweets; and there’s aperitif with snacks such as local Kyoto sake and pickles.

Read more information and reviews on Booking.com
Ryoan ji stone garden in Kyoto

Budget options in the Kyoto station area

Hotel Kuu Kyoto

Located less than a 10 minute walk from the JR Kyoto Station and right next to the Shosei-en garden, Kuu Kyoto offers simple rooms with all the amenities you need in a hotel.

But what’s so special about it is that, although it’s a 3* hotel, it has a sauna and an onsen available. There are actually 3 baths – one outside, and one big and one small inside. Plus, a sauna and a cold water bath. The water in the hot spring is from rivers in Kyoto and the outdoor bath and the cypress-scented smaller bath use volcanic rock from Mt. Fuji.

The room facilities and amenities include everything that is needed and more. The rooms themselves are reasonably sized, and there’s even a suite decorated in traditional Japanese style.

There’s a breakfast served every day in the hotel Kuu Kyoto. The same restaurant serves dinner as well, and you can choose from different original dishes, including Wagyu beef.

Read more information and reviews on Booking.com
Henn na Hotel Kyoto Hachijoguchi

Henn na Hotel Kyoto Hachijoguchi is located just by the Kyoto JR Station Hachijo East Exit. Supposedly, it’s Henn na is the holder of the Guinness World Records for the first hotel where robots work. Yes, at the check-in, you’ll find robots. Dinosaur robots.

The rooms are quite nice and well-sized. Single rooms are tiny, though. And there’s a “higher level” of rooms, called Phiten. It’s a company that provides many body care products to the world’s top athletes. A water-soluble metal technology “Aqua Titan” are used to impregnate the wallpaper, carpet, bedding, etc. of these rooms to “help the body return to its natural state of relaxation.”

There are quite a few amenities, including air purifiers. Some of the things, like tea sets and gowns, are distributed at the front desk. In the Phiten rooms, you’ll find even foot massagers. Overall, the Phiten rooms sound nicer and have better amenities. Since the price difference is quite negligible, I definitely recommend those.

There’s a Japanese-style breakfast served either in the restaurant or in a bento box in your room. If you’d like something else, there are lots of options available at the restaurants near or in the station. But in that case, make sure to choose a room rate that doesn’t include breakfast!

Read more information and reviews on Booking.com

Things to see and do in the Kyoto Station area include:

  • The station itself is an interesting object to see
  • Kyoto tower for the views from the top
  • Higashi Hongan-ji temple
  • Shosei-en garden
Michal pointing at shinkansen in Osaka station Japan

Pros of staying in the Kyoto Station area for your first time in Kyoto

  • Some of the best transport options in Kyoto, including Shinkansen, buses, and the metro.
  • Great for day trips
  • Plenty of good food and entertainment options

Cons staying in the Kyoto Station area

  • Not so many options for sightseeing directly there, but they are close by
  • A busy area

Gion and Southern Higashiyama – the best area of Kyoto to stay for being surrounded by history

Kyomizu-dera temple in Kyoto

Gion and Southern Higashiyama are arguably the most famous areas to stay in Kyoto.

I put these two areas together because Gion is really a part of Southern Higashiyama

Here, you’ll be surrounded by incredible ancient temples, traditional houses, and the oldest Geisha district in Kyoto.

Since this area is so touristy, you’ll find a plethora of restaurants and entertainment. And downtown Kyoto is nearby if you fancy a bit of nightlife.

Where to stay in Southern Higashiyama

Luxury options

There are “luxury” options in Southern Higashiyama, Kyoto where to stay for that extra touch. And then there are “Ultra-luxury” hotels in Southern Higashiyama, Kyoto where to stay if you’d like to be treated like royalty – and like to pay the price for that. I’ve listed just the plain old Luxury ones, as the ultra-luxury cost upwards of like 800 euros a night at a minimum – and some nights, even more than 2000 euros.

If you’d like to see some, check these out:

But now, on to the luxury options.

Hyatt Regency Kyoto

Hyatt Regency is located in a peaceful part of Southern Higashiyama, within walking distance from the Kiyomizu-dera temple. A lush bamboo grove marks the entrance to the hotel, and there’s a Japanese garden

The rooms at the Hyatt are large and light. They are Japanese style but have such nice modern touches as 42in TVs, Blu-ray players, and coffee machines. The deluxe rooms come with cypress baths and the suites – both a cypress bath and a rain shower. Some of the rooms have balconies which overlook the Kyoto National Museum or the hotel’s exquisitely decorated Japanese-style garden.

The Riraku Spa and fitness centre guests can enjoy such beauty and holistic treatments as shiatsu, acupuncture, aromatherapy and other. The fitness centre has a gym with a full range of modern exercise equipment, including cardiovascular and isotonic machines, free weights, and personal fitness programs. In the spa, there is a whirlpool bath, steam room (for women), dry sauna (for men), and of course, showers, vanity areas and lounges. Towels and bathrobes are provided.

And the food, of course. There are three restaurants on-site – French, Japanese, and Italian, as well as a bar, a pastry shop and room service. The breakfast is fabulous, according to reviews from booking.

As a cherry on top, there’s a free taxi from JR Kyoto Station.

Read more information and reviews on Booking.com
Dhawa Yura Kyoto – Banyan Tree Group

Dhawa Yura Kyoto is a boutique hotel located right next to the Sanjo station and not far from Gion.

The rooms in Dhawa are nicely sized and well decorated. They say, the old meets new and the west meets the east in the hotel, and honestly, it looks like that. Of course, the rooms have all you need, including an espresso machine and slippers.

There’s a small fitness room and a spa. The 8elements spa offers different treatments, including massages and facials. For the treatments, you need a reservation (and they are paid), but the gym is open 24/7 and free.

There’s a lovely lounge called “the nest” in the front area, where guests can relax and enjoy drinks and sweets from Kyoto shops for free. I think it’s a nice touch. Isn’t it?

And of course, dining. There’s a restaurant on site, which serves breakfast, as well as lunch and dinner. And there’s a bar available as well.

Read more information and reviews on Booking.com

Mid-range options

a busy street in kyoto japan
Rinn Gion Kenninji

Rinn Gion Kenninji is located close to Gion Shijo station and many temples. The hotel itself is a fusion between the traditional and modern Japanese taste, with a bit of a bamboo grove taste thrown in for good measure.

The rooms are not the biggest, but they contain everything that’s needed for a good relaxation after exploring the whole day. They look quite traditional,

There are amenities that will make the typical Westerner go “wow”, such as slippers and yukata, razors, and even oral care kits. You’ll even find a fridge in the room and a microwave near the reception.

The only thing that I don’t like about Rinn Gion Kenninji is that they don’t provide breakfast. If you’re ok with going to one of the many multiple restaurants nearby, then this is a good place in Kyoto where to stay for enjoying the incredible Gion.

Read more information and reviews on Booking.com
Kyoto Granbell Hotel

Ok, Kyoto Granbell Hotel is quite luxury price-wise, but still, from what I could see, for much of the year, it fits into the midrange option. But the hotel looks so great that it’s actually worth that little bit more.

The hotel is located just 2 minutes from Gion Shijo station, making it a very convenient place where to stay in Kyoto. It’s always nice to be close to a train station.

The design of Kyoto Granbell hotel is kind of a modern twist on the traditional Japanese. And you can choose a room in either traditional Japanese or Western style, with the difference basically being that the traditional rooms have a tatami mat floor. The rooms are not the biggest, but they do have all you need.

 The best thing about the Granbell, though? It has an onsen onsite. And there’s a traditional Japanese garden just by the onsen. Plus, there’s a relaxation lounge with free coffee.

Read more information and reviews on Booking.com
Hotel Alza Kyoto

Another hotel that fuses the modern and the traditional, Hotel Alza Kyoto is located on the banks of the Kamo River at Gion Shijo. Theoretically, it’s a luxury hotel, but the price, just like the Granbell, is more mid-range.

The hotel looks nice – the common premises are decorated in a traditional Japanese style, with paintings from a local artist from the Edo era and mosaics by an Italian. The guest rooms are nice and big – and they have spa baths in them! And of course, all amenities that are needed.

What’s special is, you can choose rooms that have a city or river view, Sakura/Fall colour view, or a luxury room with a view of the Kamo river.

Breakfast is served in your room, which is quite cool. And you can choose between a Japanese or Western-style breakfast.

Read more information and reviews on Booking.com
yasaka pagoda in kyoto Japan
Yasaka pagoda

Budget hotels

Honestly, if you’d like to stay in Kyoto on a bit of a budget, Southern Higashiyama is not the best place. The value for money that you get is much, much worse than you’d get somewhere like in the Kyoto station area or Downtown Kyoto.

I’ve found some places that looked like they might be interesting, but really, I strongly suggest that you suggest the other areas of Kyoto where to stay for your trip.

Rc Hotel Kyoto Yasaka

Budget for Higashiyama standards, RC Hotel Kyoto Yasaka is located quite close to Kiyomizu-dera temple. So, the perfect place where to stay in Kyoto for sightseeing.

It’s a stylish inn that has a really unique design. Each floor has rooms with a specific theme: vegetation, folk handicraft, and art. The design of the room is made around the theme – with artwork, for example. The amenities include everything that is needed – from toiletries to bathrobes.

The best thing about the Rc hotel, though? The view. You can see Hokan-ji pagoda (Pagoda Yasaka) from the rooftop terrace.

The bad thing, though, is that there’s no breakfast. So if you’re ok with figuring out your own food, definitely consider Rc Hotel Kyoto Yasaka.

Read more information and reviews on Booking.com
Urbain Kyoto Kiyomizugojo

Urbain Kyoto Kiyomizugojo is located not too far from the Kiyomizu Gojo station.

The rooms in this hotel are quite small, but they fit a bed and a bathroom – what else is needed? And of course, there are free toiletries and slippers, as is normal in Japan.

The rooms have tatami floors, with a futon bed and a little table.

Unlike many other budget hotels in Southern Higashiyama, Urbain Kyoto actually serves breakfast. It’s a buffet breakfast with quite a few options.

The location of the Urbain Kyoto Kiyomizugojo is nice, close to a station and a 24/7 shopping mall, as well as lots of sightseeing.

Read more information and reviews on Booking.com
an empty street in kyoto japan

Things to see and do in Gion and Southern Higashiyama

  • Temples: Kiyomizu-dera, Kennen-ji, and others
  • Gion
  • The streets of Southern Higashiyama themselves
  • Enjoy some great food

Pros of staying in Gion and Southern Higashiyama

  • Amazing food options
  • Many incredible temples
  • Historic atmosphere
  • Nightlife
  • Might see Geisha

Things you might not like about Gion and Southern Higashiyama

  • It’s a touristy place, so might get quite loud and crowded
  • Prices are a lot higher than in other areas

Downtown Kyoto – a great area for being centrally located

Although Downtown Kyoto is not really great for sightseeing, it is, obviously, quite centrally located. It means that you can get to wherever in Kyoto quite comfortably – and the amount of metro stations helps immensely.

Plus, there’s an abundance of shops and restaurants so you’d be well covered in that department if you chose Downtown Kyoto for your stay.

As I mentioned already, Downtown Kyoto includes the Shijo district where we stayed when visiting Kyoto.

Where to stay in Downtown Kyoto

a garden by the silver pavillion in kyoto japan

Luxury hotels in Downtown Kyoto

Downtown Kyoto – and pretty much the whole of Kyoto – has so many incredible luxury hotels that it was incredibly hard to just choose a couple of options. Like, really. Check any of these, and I know you’ll agree (those are luxury hotels in the whole of Kyoto).

Villa Sanjo Muromachi KYOTO

Villa Sanjo Muromachi has been listed in the Michelin guide Kyoto, Osaka 2020 as a very comfortable hotel. It’s a luxury hotel, located not too far away from the Kyoto International Manga Museum and the Choho-ji Temple.

This villa is pretty much a boutique hotel. It has only 12 rooms, which are all very nicely decorated. The wallpaper in the hotel is handmade and is actually Kyoto karakami, a decorative paper done by hand at Karacho, a papermaker with a 400-year history. Pretty much all of the things in Sanjo Muromachi are made in Kyoto, by traditional artisans.

There’s a gallery in which you can find books on Kyoto, contemporary craftworks as well as antique tableware, and so much more. In a lounge on the first floor, you can relax and enjoy some sake made right there in Kyoto.

The rooms themselves are large and each has a bath. The amenities include things traditional in Kyoto or made in Kyoto. For example, you’ll find Inoda Coffee in the rooms, as there’s a saying that a Kyoto morning starts with the smell of Inoda Coffee.

Read more information and reviews on Booking.com
Ace Hotel Kyoto

Ace Hotel Kyoto is another one of those incredible-looking luxury places with a more interesting vibe than the traditional luxury hotels – it’s a design boutique hotel with TURNTABLES in each room. Yes, that is right. You can get vinyl albums from a library to play on your turntable.

Note – I was considering putting Kyoto Shijo Takakura Hotel Grandereverie on this list instead, as it just looks so elegant and some of the rooms have stone bathtubs. But the turntables won me over.

The rooms in the Ace hotel are quite large and light. The décor is warm and contemporary – the hotel itself describes it as “West meets East in a celebration of Kyoto’s legacy of craft and beautiful, functional design”, and there’s art by local artists on display. And obviously, there’s all you need in the rooms for a comfy stay, such as custom robes and Biodegradable Bamboo Amenities.

If you don’t feel like you’ve walked enough during the day, there’s a gym available. Or, if you’d just like to relax, there are two restaurants and a rooftop bar. You can even rent bicycles – for free!

Read more information and reviews on Booking.com
View from the Togetsu Kyo bridge in Kyoto
View from the Togetsu Kyo bridge in Arashiyama

Ultra-luxury option

I just loved the Ritz-Carlton so much that I decided to write about it, haha.

The Ritz-Carlton Kyoto

Yes, the Ritz-Carlton is ultra-luxury in every way, including the price. But oh my does it look amazing – and has an incredible location! It’s overlooking the Kamo-gawa River, for crying out loud!

The experience of luxury begins already at checkin, which is conducted over Japanese tea. There’s even a “signature” green tea scent that was specifically customized for the Ritz Carlton Kyoto.

The rooms are huge and decorated immaculately with traditional Japanese motifs. The amenities include handmade soaps and bath salts. There are Garden suites which even have their own private Japanese Garden.

The Ritz-Carlton has a spa and wellness area, as well as a 24-hour gym, which is included in the rate. If you’d like, there are treatments available – for an extra fee, though.

As for the meals, there are four restaurants on-site, one of which – Mizuki – is even Michelin-starred, plus a lounge. There’s kaiseki dinner or sushi in Mizuki, as well as French and Italian options. The breakfast is supposedly superb.

Yes, it is pricey, but if you’re looking for one of the best places in Kyoto where to stay for that sophisticated luxury experience, but don’t want to stay in a ryokan, this is the place for you.

Read more information and reviews on Booking.com

Mid-range hotels in Downtown Kyoto

Candeo Hotels Kyoto Karasuma Rokkaku

Candeo Hotels Kyoto Karasuma Rokkaku is a very nice hotel – a bit more luxurious than your standard mid-range hotel. It’s located quite centrally in Downtown Kyoto, not too far from Kyoto Station, and not too far from Gion. And of course, restaurants and everything are just a short walk away.

The rooms are nicely sized and have huge panoramic windows. Some of them even have their own private onsen on the balcony! Otherwise, you have all the amenities that you might need, including yukatas to wear in the room.

My favourite part, though? The onsen. There are 2 inside baths and 2 outside ones on the top floor of the hotel – they even call it SkySpa. The baths are gender separated, of course. There are 2 saunas as well – for men, it’s a dry sauna, and for women, a mist one. If you have a tattoo, no worries, as tattoo covers are provided.

Read more information and reviews on Booking.com
Hotel Resol Kyoto Kawaramachi Sanjo

Hotel Resol Kyoto Kawaramachi Sanjo is right in the middle of Kawaramachi Sanjo, a popular hangout area in Kyoto. But it’s still quiet, so perfect for relaxation.

The rooms are not the biggest, but they are nicely decorated by integrating traditional and modern Kyoto. Plus, there are tatami floors in the room – they are very pleasant. Among the normal amenities (normal for Japan, abundant for Europe and USA), you’ll find a matcha set in the room, which is really cool.

The common areas are nicely decorated as well and are great for relaxing. The breakfast is buffet style, with both Japanese and Western options.

Read more information and reviews on Booking.com
View of Ginkaku-ji temple in Kyoto.

Budget hotels in Downtown Kyoto

Smile Hotel Kyoto Shijo – where we stayed on our trip to Kyoto

Smile hotel is located in a very convenient place, just a few minutes from a JR bus stop that goes straight to the station. That means that if you have a JR pass (as you should when visiting Japan), you can use it for free. There are shops nearby and a ton of restaurants for all tastes. And the Gion district is 20 minutes on foot.

The rooms are not big, but you get all you need in them. There are bath amenities and even nightwear provided. Other than that, it’s your standard three-star hotel.

Two negative things kept coming up in the reviews, though. Those are that you cannot control the airconditioning from the room and that the walls are rather thin, so you hear people from the other rooms.

Otherwise, it’s a good enough hotel for an incredible price in a great location.

Read more information and reviews on Booking.com
Hotel Musse Kyoto Shijo Kawaramachi Meitetsu

Hotel Musse Kyoto Shijo Kawaramachi Meitetsu is in a nice location, just 7 minutes on foot from Gion. There are public transport options close by, which is great for sightseeing.

The rooms are nice and light, average sized by Japanese standards. They have all the amenities you need, including even razors. The rooms are decorated with a nice Japanese modernism touch.

Just be careful if you have multiple checked-in luggage items, as the space might be limited – go for a bigger room, in that case.       

There’s a buffet breakfast available. And there’s even free coffee, tea and cocoa available in the lobby, which is definitely nice!

Read more information and reviews on Booking.com
Shizutetsu Hotel Prezio Kyoto Karasumaoike

Shizutetsu Hotel Prezio Kyoto Karasumaoike is located just 200m from the Kyoto International Manga Museum.

The rooms are standard-sized for Japan, with all you need for a comfortable stay. They are decorated with a touch of Kyoto traditional style, with a wallpaper that “contains the essence of Kyoto”. Some rooms even have massage chairs or foot massagers.

There’s a coin laundry for those who need to stay longer – or like to pack extra light. And next to the lobby, there’s a coffee machine where you can get coffee for free. On the first floor, you can find bath salts to use for some extra relaxing baths.

For breakfast, there’s a buffet with Japanese and Western food, made from seasonal ingredients.

Read more information and reviews on Booking.com

Things to see and do in Downtown Kyoto

  • Shijo shopping district
  • Visit the Ponto-Cho geisha district
  • Kyoto International Manga Museum
  • Nishiki market

Pros of staying in Downtown Kyoto

  • Great transport connections
  • Many food options
  • Shopping centres
  • Walking distance to Southern and Northern Higashiyama

Cons of staying in Downtown Kyoto

  • Not too much sightseeing
  • Pricey
  • It will feel more modern than historic in Downtown Kyoto

Kyoto ryokans with private onsen

Onsen in Japan By ztranger/stock.adobe.com
By ztranger/stock.adobe.com

In my opinion, if you visit Japan, you definitely must spend at least a night in a ryokan. Even better, if that ryokan comes with its own private onsen.

It’s just such a bucket list thing, honestly. Just read the rules for visiting these places first.

When looking at ryokans in Kyoto, I really don’t think you should be looking at a specific area. You know, the experience that you’d get in a ryokan that has caught your eye is really worth it even if you have to travel longer for the sightseeing.

I’m not gonna describe these ryokans as much as I described the hotels – you have to see for yourself what they offer! Just click the name of the ryokan for more info.

Nazuna Kyoto Nijo-jo

Located near Nijo castle in Downtown Kyoto. It offers rooms that come with their own open-air or semi open-air onsen – how cool is that? This ryokan has gotten a Michelin Guide Kyoto Osaka Award, and it looks like it really deserves it.

Ryokan Mugen

An adults-only ryokan near the Nijo castle. It was built over 160 years ago, and is keeping with its heritage. There’s a lovely garden in Mugen. The owner is incredibly helpful and nice, and even makes a home-made breakfast each morning!

Muromachi Yutone Kyokoyado

Muromachi Yutone Kyokoyado has gotten the Michelin Guide Kyoto Osaka Award, as well. It’s been running since the muromachi period, that is, for at least 6 centuries. This ryokan offers kaiseki cuisine, so definitely go for the “both breakfast and dinner included” option.

Areas of Kyoto where I wouldn’t stay for my first trip

Arashiyama bamboo forest in Kyoto

It’s not really easy to recommend areas where not to stay. Really, my main philosophy for staying places is mostly “you do you, boo”.

These specific areas are not BAD. They are just more inconvenient in regard to some aspects than those that I’ve mentioned before.

Arashiyama

The incredible area where the Arashiyama bamboo forest and Arashiyama Monkey Park Iwatayama are located, as well as the Togetsu-kyo Bridge.

Although the area is stunning and you should definitely visit it, Arashiyama is quite far from the centre, thus not the best for exploring the rest Kyoto has to offer.

Northern Higashiyama

Another stunning area in Kyoto (are there really any that are not?) that is worth exploring. You’ll find the Ginkaku-ji Temple and many other interesting temples and shrines here, the Philosopher’s path, as well as the museum district.

The problems, though, are that there are not too many restaurants or hotels here, making it rather inconvenient for staying. And although it’s relatively close to the Central Kyoto and the Southern Higashiyama/Gion districts, but still, not exactly within walking distance.

Central Kyoto

Quite a controversial opinion, I think, since Central Kyoto has been named one of the best areas in Kyoto where to stay for first timers, haha. And it’s true, you can find some good hotels, restaurants, and shops here. Plus, it’s not the worst for exploring, as there are metro stops here. There are even things to see in Central Kyoto, such as Nijo Castle, Kyoto Imperial Palace and Park, and some gardens.

But when comparing, I rather recommend Downtown Kyoto or the Kyoto station area to the Central Area. Downtown is just more… central, ironically. It’s more convenient for getting to all corners of Kyoto, especially if you have the Fushimi Inari shrine on your itinerary.

Last thoughts on the best places to stay in Kyoto

This article on the best places in Kyoto where to stay for your trip got longer than I thought it will. No wonder it took me about a month to write – there are just too many incredible accommodation options in Kyoto!

I hope you find something for yourself here, though.

Let me know which place you liked the best! Or maybe you decided on a different one that I haven’t mentioned here? Then, please, let me know that, too!


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