You might be thinking, “I’m taking a trip to Kyoto so I want to spend the night in a ryokan!”
The history of Kyoto’s ryokan is rich, some of which have been doing business for over 200 years (since the Edo Period of Japan).
If you are looking to experience “Japan” in the truest form of the word, you should definitely be looking to stay at a ryokan.
In this article, we will be introducing to you some of the best 11 ryokan in the Kyoto area, all in convenient locations for shopping and sightseeing.
With traditional Japanese food, beautiful Japanese gardens, wooden baths, you will be able to enjoy your stay at these ryokan to the fullest.
Let’s get started!
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Table of contents
- Top 3 ryokan in the Gion area
- Top 4 ryokan in the Karasuma Oike area
- Top 2 ryokan in the Kyoto Station area
- Top 2 ryokan in the Arashiyama area
Top 3 ryokan in the Gion area
The Gion area of Kyoto is an elegant location filled with cobble-paved streets lined with tea shops.
It is the standard place to visit if you are in Kyoto and is famous for landmarks like Kiyomizu and Kodaiji.
For those who want to take their time experiencing the traditions of Japan, we have some suggestions for places to stay nearby.
The following are three of the ryokan that we recommend in the Gion area.
Yuzuya Ryokan (柚子屋旅館)
The first on our list, Yuzuya Ryokan, is a high-quality ryokan.Founded upon the concept of enjoying the cuisine, the food served at Yuzuya Ryokan uses fresh fruits, vegetables, fish, and beef that are produced in Kyoto.
Have you ever heard of yuzu? These citrus fruits have a unique smell and sourness, making them a popular seasoning for food in Japan.
True to its name, Yuzuya Ryokan serves many dishes using yuzu; their famous yuzu hot pot would be worth a try if you are visiting.
This ryokan has eight rooms, and none of them are overly decorated, fully embracing the Japanese concept of peace of simplicity.
Attached to each room is a bath that smells of yuzu, and it might just help you relax after a long day of sightseeing.
KIKUTANI (祇園 御宿 菊渓)
This is a ryokan newly opened in November of 2019.
Because of its short history, the eight rooms of KIKUTANI are modern, but still retain a touch of Japanese culture, which is sure to make a comfortable stay.
From the windows, you can see out onto a Japanese garden and an aqua terrarium filled with Japanese plants.
If you are uncomfortable with sleeping on a futon on the floor, you will be glad to know that there are beds available in every room.
There are also many positive reviews about the staff’s correspondence so you can expect to have great service while staying at KIKUTANI.
Gion Shinmoso (祇をん新門荘)
With 70 years of history, Gion Shinmoso is a refined ryokan in the Gion area.
Gion Shinmoso is known for its food. The taste is not only spectacular but the plates used have been preserved since the Edo Period. The chefs are especially peculiar about the appearance of the dishes.
At Gion Shinmoso, you can enjoy foods made with seasonal ingredients. Many visitor reviews hold the cooking in high regard.
With a mix of modern amenities and Japanese-style rooms, you can spend the night in a room that is both comfortable and stylish.
Gion Shinmoso even offers the experience of playing games with a maiko (a geisha in training), making it feel like you have time-traveled back to premodern Japan. Having the company of a maiko is sure to be a time to remember.
Top 4 ryokan in the Karasuma Oike area
Karasuma Oike is an area 5 minutes north of Kyoto Station. There is a station nearby that shares the name.
Some of the well-known sightseeing spots include the world heritage site, Nijo-jo Castle, and a shopping area called, “Nishiki Ichiba,” which includes approximately 130 stores of all kinds.
Here are our recommendations for ryokan in the Karasuma Oike area.
nol kyoto sanjo
nol kyoto sanjo was renovated in November of 2020.
The interior is wooden, giving it a natural and settled feel. Despite being simple, you will find the rooms to be very fancy.
All the rooms include a bed, kitchen, and a bath made of Japanese cypress.
Although there is no restaurant inside the ryokan, nol kyoto sanjo is located on what used to be Kyoto’s main street, Sanjo-dori, so there are many restaurants where you can try out the local foods.
The surrounding area features old buildings and shops, so you can enjoy views that resemble old Japan while walking around.
Nazuna Kyoto Nijo-jo (Nazuna 京都 二条城)
This ryokan received the Michelin Guide Kyoto Osaka Award.
The exterior of this building looks very traditional, but the interior has taken aspects of western design, allowing for a harmony of both cultures in one ryokan.
Japanese tea is the motif of this lodge, so the colors of the room are tea-themed. In total, four types of tea serve as the image for these rooms: Gyokuro (an expensive type of green tea), matcha, roasted green tea, and roasted rice tea.
With each room comes an outdoor bath and a half-outdoor bath. Nazuna’s original tea blend is actually included in the bath, which is supposed to be good for your skin and take away fatigue.
With roots tracing back to the Edo Period, Tawaraya is a ryokan that has been in business for around 300 years and is said to be one of the oldest ryokan in all of Kyoto.
There is no official website, but the reviews are extremely positive in terms of customer service. This ryokan is apparently well-visited and loved by famous individuals from around the world.
As the oldest ryokan on this list, although there are hints of modern design in the building, you will find that the rooms highlight nature specifically. This lodge is especially recommended for those who want to observe traditional Japanese architecture and hospitality culture.
Upon arriving at Tawaraya, you will be welcomed with a Japanese sweet snack called warabi mochi. The soft texture and sweet taste is famous among visitors.
- Price: 1 adult starting from 55,000 JPY/night
- Address: 278 Nakahakusancho, Nakagyo Ward, Kyoto, 604-8094, Japan (Google MAP)
- Website: N/A
Sumiya Ryokan (炭屋旅館)
If you are planning to stay at Sumiya Ryokan, we recommend that you try the “Kaiseki” food that they serve. Kaiseki is a traditional multi-course Japanese dinner, and Sumiya Ryokan uses vegetables of all seasons to make their dishes.
Another reason why Sumiya Ryokan is so popular is that the staff embodies the ideals of Japanese hospitality. You can rest assured with good service.
The rooms are Japanese-style but also include a bed, so even those who are uncomfortable sleeping on the floor with a futon can rest easy.
For those who want to try their hands at experiences you can only have in Japan, you can try a matcha class where you can learn how to make and even how to drink matcha. The price is not included in the room fee, so make sure to reserve a spot beforehand.
Top 2 ryokan in the Kyoto Station area
Kyoto Station is the center of travel in Kyoto, being a hub for many bus and train routes. If you stay around the station, you can easily visit all the places you want.
Additionally, there are many landmarks around the station such as Kyoto Tower and the Five-storied Pagoda, making it a fun location to explore outside of just the station itself.
Below, we will be introducing two of our favorite ryokan around the Kyoto Station area.
HOKKAIKAN OHANABO (京の宿 北海館 お花坊)
The most interesting thing to note about HOKKAIKAN OHANABO is the wooden architecture that makes the building feel very old-fashioned and at-home. There are a total of 12 rooms that have not changed much since the ryokan’s opening, so you will be able to feel the ryokan in the way that it was originally meant to be felt. Another unique aspect of this ryokan is that no two rooms are the same.
You will, of course, be able to eat traditional Japanese food and relax in the bath. The outdoor bath is surrounded by seasonal flowers, so depending on what time of the year you’ll visit you can enjoy a bit of a different view.
From HOKKAIKAN OHANABO, a well-known temple called Higashi Honganji is only two minutes away. Shosei-en Garden and Kyoto Tower are easy to access as well.
Hifumi Ryokan (ひふみ旅館)
Hifumi Ryokan is so close to Kyoto Station, you can get there with a five-minute walk.
The ryokan has an overall at-home feel to it and is perfect for those who are looking to spend their time in a retro lodge.
All the rooms are Japanese-style, and you can choose between three different types: large, basic, and compact.
A particularly appealing part of Hifumi Ryokan is the breakfast. The food is healthy, plentiful, and delicious, gaining very positive reviews from customers.
Top 2 ryokan in the Arashiyama area
Known for Togetsukyo, a 155-meter long bridge, and an expansive bamboo forest, Arashiyama is the peak of nature-based sightseeing in Kyoto.
There is a bit of distance between Kyoto Station and Arashiyama, so you should look to spend the night in this area if you are looking to mainly explore the Arashiyama area.
Here are two ryokan that we recommend in particular.
RANGETSU (旅亭 嵐月)
The exterior of RANGETSU is lit up with lanterns and the wooden gate will lead you into a luxurious Japanese-style ryokan.
Inside, there are two types of rooms: a standard room and a premium room with an outdoor bath attached. There are only three premium rooms, and they are popular among guests.
From the outdoor bath, you can see Arashiyama and the surrounding river. The bathwater is Arashiyama’s only natural hot spring water, and it includes many minerals that have built up over time. For those who are interested in onsen, this is definitely a ryokan you will not want to miss out on.
Arashiyama Onsen Kadensho (嵐山温泉 花伝抄)
At this ryokan, you can choose between three types of rooms: Kyomachiya (old-fashioned Japanese style), Kyo Modern (Western-style), and Kyo Wafu (modern Japanese-style). They each have unique aspects, so you can choose according to your preference.
Kandensho’s onsen is very highly praised by guests. Firstly, there are three separate outside baths with full views of the stars. There is also a bath that takes water from the Arashiyama hot spring and is said to have many health and beauty benefits. You can even reserve one of the five rental baths for free.
Another unique aspect of Kadensho is the yukata. Most ryokan will provide you with yukata, but Kadensho has all different patterns and colors available for you to choose from.
Additionally, for those who are out late and are looking for a midnight snack, Kadensho provides free soba. This way, you can enjoy the nightlife of Kyoto to the fullest without having to worry about food.
What did you think? Today we introduced and recommended some of our favorite ryokan in Kyoto. The ryokan you choose to stay in may differ depending on which area you want to explore, but each and every one of the lodges on this list is guaranteed to give you the vacation experience you are looking for.
Kyoto is the epitome of what people think about when they envision old-fashioned Japan, and staying at a ryokan is a must if you are staying in the area. With rich culture, abundant nature, and great traditional food, you will be sure to be satisfied by your adventure in Kyoto.
Thank you for reading!