An Area Guide and List of the Best Ryokan and Hotels in Kyoto

Nakagyo | Central Kyoto - where to stay best area to stay in kyoto

~ Where to Stay in Kyoto ~

Disclaimer: My family is coming to Japan this May, so this is my recommendation for them. The post is not finished yet, but since they want to book the hotels in the near future I have already published it.

Best Area to Stay in Kyoto

Central Kyoto (Nakagyo)

Nakagyo | Central Kyoto - where to stay best area to stay in kyoto

Nakagyo is the center of Kyoto and really in the middle of everything. The name literally means “central capital” and you can think of it as downtown Kyoto.

It’s one of the best places you can stay in Kyoto. Especially if you are into food and shopping!

There are plenty of hotels, shops, and restaurants in this area and the famous Teramachi and Shinkyogoku Shopping Arcades.

Furthermore, you can explore a lot of the main attractions located in Central Kyoto and Higashiyama on foot when you choose to stay here.

The main attractions you can find in Central Kyoto, are Nishiki Market, Pontocho Alley, Nijo Castle, the Kyoto International Manga Museum, and the Kyoto Art Center.

Best place to stay if you:
  • Would like a good base to explore Kyoto on foot or by bicycle
  • Are into food, shopping, and entertainment
  • Want to experience Kyoto’s nightlife
  • Don’t mind to pay a little more

Attractions: Nishiki Market, Nijo Castle, Pontocho Alley, Teramachi, Museums
Stations: Nijo (JR), Shijo, Karasuma Oike, Karasuma, Kawaramachi
About 3.5 km north of Kyoto Station (42 min on foot)
Access: JR San-in line (15 min), Karasuma Line (15 min)

Best Ryokans
Mitsuki Kyoto
Matsui Honkan
NAZUNA Kyoto Nijo-tei


Best Hotels
Seibido Inn
Hotel Vista Premio Kyoto
Village Kyoto

East Kyoto (Higashiyama)

Higashiyama | East Kyoto - where to stay best area to stay in kyoto

Higashiyama is THE sightseeing district in Kyoto. It is usually divided into two areas, Southern Higashiyama and Northern Higashiyama.

Southern Higashiyama is considered the most important one since it contains Gion, Kyoto’s main geisha district.

Other famous sights in Southern Higashiyama are Kiyomizudera Temple, Sanjusangen-do Temple, Yasaka-no-to Pagoda, and Kyoto’s most popular (and crowded) cherry blossom viewing spot Maruyama Park.

Northern Higashiyama has at least as many must-see attractions, but it’s less crowded.

Some of the more famous ones include Nanzenji Temple, Ginkakuji Temple, the Philosopher’s Path, Heian-Jingu Shrine, and Kyoto’s most famous autumn foliage spot Eikan-do Temple.

Best place to stay if you:
  • Want to be in walking distance to Kyoto’s top tourist attractions
  • Love traditional Japanese culture, shrines and temples
  • Are dying to see or meet a Geisha / Maiko
  • Aren’t looking for budget-friendly hotels

Attractions: Kiyomizudera, Yasaka-no-to Pagoda, Nanzenji, Ginkakuji, and many more
Stations: Kiyomizu-Gojo, Gion-Shijo, Higashiyama, Sanjo, Keage
~2.7 km north-east of Kyoto Station (32 min on foot)
Access: Bus or Karasuma Line + Walk / Bus

Best Ryokans
Gion Maifukan Hotel Kyoto
Gion Hatanaka
Kinoe Ryokan


Best Hotels
Kyoto Inn Gion
Kyoto Inn Gion The Second
Kyoto Granbell Hotel

Kyoto Station (Shimogyo)

Shimogyo | Kyoto Station Area - where to stay best area to stay in kyoto

Kyoto’s station area isn’t really my favorite place to stay in Kyoto,. It’s pretty far from Higashiyama and also not as beautiful.

All the concrete and neon around the station just doesn’t match the image you have of Kyoto…

However, you’re very close to Kyoto Station, which is convenient if you want to travel to Osaka, Nara or do all kinds of other day-trips!

Most likely it’s also the place where you’ll arrive. So your hotel should be very close!

Another good reason to stay here is the number of hotels you can choose from. There are a lot of hotels around the station and they usually offer better value.

Some of the sightseeing spots here are Higashi-Honganji Temple, Nishi Honganji’s Shoseien Garden, Toji temple with its pagoda and Kyoto Tower.

You can also find a lot of restaurants, department stores and an underground shopping mall here.

Best place to stay if you:
  • Plan to travel to a lot of other places like Osaka, Nara, Uji, etc.
  • Like big shopping centers and electronic stores
  • Want to get the best value for your money
  • Don’t mind traveling to Kyoto’s sights

Attractions: Higashi-Honganji, Nishi Honganji, Toji, Kyoto Tower, Kyoto Station Building
Stations: Kiyomizu-Gojo, Gion-Shijo, Higashiyama, Sanjo, Keage
Directly next to Kyoto Station (1 – 10 min on foot)
Access: Tokaido Shinkansen, JR Lines, Karasuma Line

Best Ryokans
Kyomachiya Ryokan Sakura Urushitei
Traditional Kyoto Inn Serving Kyoto Cuisine Izuyasu
Lucky You Kyoto


Best Hotels
Hotel Granvia Kyoto
Citadines Karasuma-Gojo Kyoto
Hotel Kuu Kyoto

West Kyoto (Arashiyama)

Nishikyo (Arashiyama) | West Kyoto - where to stay best area to stay in kyoto

The west part of Kyoto, Nishikyo, or let’s better say Arashiyama is the second-most important sightseeing district in Kyoto.

It’s outside of the city center and it will take you about 30 minutes to get there. So booking a hotel here is not the first choice for most travelers.

While it’s not the most popular location to stay at, Arashiyama Bamboo Grove has to be a must-see on your list. It’s incredibly beautiful!

And there are a lot of other amazing things to see as well! Like Tenryuji Temple, the moss temple Kokedera, wild monkeys at Kameyamakoen Park, and the list goes on and on and on.

I recommend you to stay here if you have been to Kyoto before or if you want to escape the crowds and busyness of Kyoto city.

Also, if you are a nature lover, Arashiyama is THE best place for you.

Best place to stay if you:
  • Have been to Kyoto before and want to escape its crowds
  • Prefer to be in nature and love outdoor activities
  • Want to get the chance to see wild monkeys
  • Don’t mind that you’re not directly in Kyoto

Attractions: Arashiyama Bamboo Groove, Kameyama Park, Ternryuji, Kokedera
Stations: Saga-Arashiyama (JR), Arashiyama Torokko (JR), Arashiyama
10 km north-west of Kyoto Station (~30 min by train)
Access: JR Sanin Line, Randen, Hankyu-Arashiyama Line

Best Ryokans
Ryotei Rangetsu
Japaning Hotel Liv Ranrokaku
Arashiyama Benkei


Best Hotels
Nagi Kyoto Arashiyama
Hotel Binario Saga Arashiyama
Suiran A Luxury Collection Hotel Kyoto

Other places you could stay are:

So now that we have an idea where to stay, let’s have a closer look at Ryokans, Hotels, Hostels & Guest Houses in Kyoto.

Best Ryokans in Kyoto

Most of you probably want to have the Ryokan experience in Kyoto. And I totally agree that Kyoto is one of – or the – best place for it.

However, finding the right Ryokan for your stay in Kyoto can be the toughest task of your whole preparation and the booking sides are usually not a great help.

I think the most confusing part is, that there isn’t “a Ryokan”. There are actually different types of Ryokan. And depending on what you like or would like to experience you should choose accordingly.

So let’s have a look at the Ryokans you can choose from:

Traditional Ryokan

Best Traditional Ryokan Where to Stay Japan Kyoto Guide

In a Traditional Ryokan, you’ll have the most authentic Ryokan experience. It’s a Japanese inn with a traditional atmosphere and history.

The buildings are made of wood and look very Japanese since the owners do their best to preserve their original form. A lot of Traditional Ryokan also have a very nice Japanese garden.

Here you will definitely be able to feel like you’re in ancient Japan, however, you might miss some modern conveniences.

If you care about a really authentic experience that is affordable, choose this type.

Modern Ryokan

Best Modern Ryokan Where to Stay Japan Kyoto Guide

I have the feeling that these Ryokan are the most booked ones. From the outside, a Modern Ryokan looks like a small hotel, but they feature Japanese-style rooms and baths.

So your room will have Tatami mats and you can experience sleeping on a Futon. Usually, these Ryokan look very stylish and new and offer modern conveniences, but have no history.

So while you’ll definitely be able to have the Ryokan experience here, it’s actually not a 100% authentic one.

However, don’t worry! It’s probably good enough and an awesome experience, especially if you like hotel comfort.

Luxurious Ryokan

Best Luxurious Ryokan Where to Stay Japan Kyoto Guide

In a Luxurious Ryokan, you won’t only be able to have an authentic Ryokan experience. You’ll also experience Japanese hospitality and traditional Kaiseki-style meals at its finest.

These Japanese inns have a very long history and a very traditional atmosphere. However, they also offer modern conveniences.

The Japanese-style rooms and baths are usually more comfortable than in Traditional Ryokans. Furthermore, the wooden building and Japanese-style gardens are just gorgeous.

As you can imagine Luxurious Ryokan are expensive, but staying and eating here will make for an unforgettable experience.

Budget Ryokan

Cheapest Budget Ryokan Where to Stay Japan Kyoto Guide

This type of Ryokan is for you if you’re already worried about the costs traveling to Japan. It’s a concrete building that looks more like a hotel and it offers just a little traditional Japanese atmosphere.

The rooms are Japanese-style but very plain and simple. Therefore, staying here can be a nice Japanese experience. However, I wouldn’t recommend you to stay here for an authentic Ryokan experience.

However, if you can’t afford any other hotel and you really, really want to experience sleeping on a Futon, then this is your type or Ryokan.

The good point about this type of Ryokan is the cheap price!

Now you hopefully know what to expect and you have an idea of what kind of Ryokan you should be looking for.

So let’s take a look at the best choice for each type of Ryokan in Kyoto.

Best Traditional Ryokan in Kyoto

Most of these Ryokan are very small and only have a few rooms available.

So if you would like to stay here you should reserve the room well in advance!

Sawaya Honten

Sawaya Honten | Traditional Ryokan with Onsen in Kyoto

Sawaya Honten is located just a little bit north of the famous Higashiyama district. Top sights like Heien Shrine and the Imperial Palace are right around the corner. And also the main Geisha district Gion is just a 21 minutes walk away. The Japanese-style rooms have a private bath, but you can also enjoy the shared (same gender) indoor bathing facilities. And if you want to the Ryokan will serve you a Japanese-style breakfast.

Stay here when you:

  • Want to stay at a traditional inn dating back to the 1920s
  • Like spacious rooms and public bathing facilities
  • Don’t mind the distance from Kyoto Station

Traditional Style: 2,5-star ryokan, Room with seating area and private bath
Location: North-east Kyoto, 4.7 km from Kyoto Station (56 min on foot)
Access: Jingu-Marutamachi via JR & Keihan Line (23 min, 7 min walk)
Nearby: Heian Shrine, Kyoto Municipal Zoo, Ginkakuji
Price: 15,000円 – ¥¥

HotelsCombined: 9.1 Superb
“Great bath. Well located.”
Booking.com8.8 Fabulous
“Public bath. Cleanliness.”
Hotellook9.3 Excellent
“Wellness Area. Service.”
Expedia: 4.5 Wonderful!
“Free Wifi. Cleanliness.”
Agoda8.9 Excellent
“Cleanliness. Service. Facilities.”

Check Deals

Yuzuya Ryokan Hotel Kyoto

Yuzuya Ryokan | Traditional Ryokan with Onsen in Kyoto

Yuzuya Ryokan is located in the middle of Gion in downtown Kyoto and right next to Yasaka Shrine. The famous Geisha street Hanamikoji Dori and Maruyama Park are also just a few steps away. So perfect location! The public bath is a special Yuzu Indoor Bath and when you opt in for the highly recommended dinner you can enjoy an exquisite 12 course meal.

Stay here when you:

  • Would like to experience the antique atmosphere of an inn that opened in 1932
  • Want to be right next to Gion to increase your chances of seeing a Geisha
  • Are okay with paying the steep price

Antique Style: 5-star ryokan, Rooms with private bath and seating area
Location: Higashiyama, 3.2 km from Kyoto Station (39 min on foot)
Access: Gion-Shijo via JR & Keihan Main Line (19 min, 6 min walk)
Nearby: Yasaka Shrine, Gion, Maruyama Park, Nishiki Market
Price: 30,000円 – ¥¥¥

HotelsCombined: 9.0 Superb
“Great Location. Loved the Bath.”
Booking.com8.9 Fabulous
“Traditional Japanese & Breakfast.”
Hotellook8.6 Very Good
“Breakfast. Cleanliness. Location.”
Expedia: 4.5 Wonderful!
“Free Wifi. Breakfast included.”
Agoda9.0 Exceptional
“Location. Cleanliness. Service.”

Check Deals
See more pictures

Ryokan Izuyasu

Yuzuya Ryokan | Traditional Kyoto Inn Serving Kyoto Cuisine former Ryokan Izuyasu

Ryokan Izuyasu or Traditional Kyoto Inn serving Kyoto cuisine IZUYASU is one of the oldest Ryokan in Kyoto. It openend 1839, but has been renovated in 2013. The rooms are very traditional, but the public facilities look stylish and modern after the renovation. Each room has a private toilet, but the bath is shared. However, you can reserve it, so that you have it for yourself. If you want to have a Keiseki dinner you need to make a reservation at least 3 days prior. Another impotant thing to know is that you can’t enter or leave the property after 23:00.

Stay here when you:

  • Are looking for a historical and one of oldest Ryokans in Kyoto (opened in 1839)
  • Prefer a place close to Kyoto Station and therefore convenient for day-trips
  • Don’t mind the curfew and shared bath

Traditional & Modern Style: 4-star ryokan, Japanese rooms with private toilet only
Location: Shimogyo, 0.8 km from Kyoto Station (9 min on foot)
Nearby: Higashi Honganji Temple, Kyoto Tower, Kyoto Porta
Price: 20,000円 – ¥¥

HotelsCombined: 9.0 Superb
“Delicious Breakfast. Great Location.”
Booking.com8.8 Fabulous
“Kaiseki Dinner. Great Experience.”
Hotellook8.8 Wonderful
“Cleanliness. Location. Food.”
Expedia: 4.6 Wonderful!
“Room Cleanliness. Service.”
Agoda9.0 Exceptional
“Near Station. Free Wi-Fi.”

Check Deals
See more pictures

These are my top picks for you if you want to have an authentic Ryokan experience. Other traditional, but highly recommended Ryokans are Gion YoshiimaInn Kawashima, Sakanoue Hotel Kyoto and Yadoya Kikokuso.

If all of them are booked out you can also try Sumiya Ryokan, Dozen Ryokan, Nanzenji Ryokan Yachiyo or Ryoan Kazuki Hotel Kyoto. The last two ones have amazing bathing facilities, but they already feel like modern Ryokan or Ryokan Hotel.

Another really wonderful choice is Togetsutei, but it’s in Arashiyama and not directly in Kyoto.

When you book these Ryokan be careful that you select the right room type. Some of the more modern/expensive ones also have rooms with normal beds instead of Futon. On agoda and they usually indicate very nicely which type it is.

Most Luxurious Ryokan in Kyoto

Arashiyama Benkei

Arashiyama Benkei was an esteemed country estate for nobles during the Heian Period. The current facilities opened in 1966, though. As the name suggests it is located in Arashiyama and therefore a bit outside of Kyoto city. However, the Ryokan offers a free shuttle service to the nearest stations in Arashiyama. In this Ryokan you can enjoy real hot spring baths indoor and outdoor. Furthermore, the Japanese-style dinner is served in your room.

Stay here when you:

  • Want to stay at a real traditional Onsen Ryokan with indoor and outdoor baths
  • Like nature and want to avoid the crowds in Kyoto
  • Don’t mind the distance to Kyoto city

Luxurious & Traditional Style: 4-star ryokan, Japanese rooms with outdoor onsen available
Location: Arashiyama, 9.9 km from Kyoto Station (30-40 min by train)
Nearby: Tenryu-ji, Bamboo Street, Arashiyama Monkey Park
Price: 30,000円 – ¥¥¥

HotelsCombined: 9.2 Superb
“Stunning Views. Great Breakfast.”
Booking.com9.2 Superb
“Great Experience. Private Onsen.”
Hotellook9.2 Wonderful
“Location. Breakfast. Wellness Area.”
Expedia: 4.7 Exceptional!
“Multilingual Staff. Free Wifi.”
Agoda9.2 Exceptional
“Cleanliness. Hot Spring Bath.”

Check Deals
See more pictures

Seikoro Ryokan Hotel Kyoto

Seikoro Ryokan Hotel Kyoto offers traditional Japanese-style accommodation, a public bath and massage services. It’s located in the famous Higashiyama ward and therefore a perfect choice if you want to explore Kyoto on foot.

Stay here when you:

  • Want to taste authentic local dishes that are served in a traditional Japanese setting
  • Would like a Ryokan where you can soak in wooden bathtubs
  • Don’t mind the antique atmosphere

Luxurious & Antique Style: 4-star ryokan, Japanese Rooms with garden view available
Location: Southern Higashiyama, 1.7 km from Kyoto Station (21 min on foot)
Nearby: Sanjusangen-do, Kyoto National Museum, Higashi Hongan-ji
Price: 30,000円 – ¥¥¥¥

HotelsCombined: 9.3 Superb
“Great Service. Convenient Location.”
Booking.com9.7 Superb
“Traditional Japanese. Breakfast.”
Hotellook9.1 Wonderful
“Service. Breakfast. Location.”
Expedia: 4.7 Exceptional!
“Traditional Experience. Staff.”
Agoda8.9 Excellent
“Hot Spring Bath. Service.”

Check Deals

Kanamean Nishitomiya Kyoto

Kanamean Nishitomiya Kyoto is located in downtown Kyoto and the perfect base to explore Kyoto on foot. A lot of of major sites and famous temples are nearby. The rooms are very Japanese, but also modern. If the weather is nice, you can also relax on the outdoor terrace.

Stay here when you:

  • Are looking for a luxurious Ryokan located in the heart of Kyoto city
  • Want to have hosts that will go above and beyond for you
  • Don’t mind that there aren’t many reviews available

Luxurious & Modern Style: 4-star ryokan, Japanese rooms with private and shared baths
Location: Nakagyo, 2.8 km from Kyoto Station (34 min on foot)
Nearby: Honno-ji, Ponto-cho
Price: 30,000円 – ¥¥¥

HotelsCombined: 8.0 Very Good
“Great Bathroom. Loved the Food.”
TripAdvisor4.0 Excellent
“Kaiseki Dinner. Quiet. Beautiful.”
Hotellook9.6 Excellent
“Amazing Food and Service.”
Agoda10.0 Exceptional
“Near Station. Location.”

Check Deals
See more pictures

These are my top 3 recommendations for you if you want to spend a little bit more money to experience superb hospitality and Japanese cuisine.

In case you want to have a look at a few more Ryokan before making your choice Kinoe Ryokan Hotel KyotoHiiragiya Bekkan and Ryugin are amazing, too.

There aren’t many pictures of Hiiragiya Bekkan on, so here are more.

There is one more Luxurious Ryokan I would like to recommend, Tawaraya Ryokan. However, this one can only be booked by phone or e-mail. Here’s a booking guide for Tawaraya.

Best Modern Ryokan in Kyoto

Details about the must Luxurious Ryokan will follow next Friday so stay tuned! ٩(⌒ω⌒)੭⁾⁾

Alex (RockinJapan)

Hey. I'm Alex. I've been living in Japan since 2015. Before moving to Tokyo, I traveled through Japan for 7 months to visit all 47 prefectures. Traveling and staying in Japan has been so much fun and such an incredible experience that I decided to write about it. I noticed there isn't a lot of information about hot springs and onsen towns in Japan, so I'm focusing on this topic. Hopefully, my articles will help you to get the most out of your trip and to fully enjoy your time in Japan! Alex

Recent Posts