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No trip to Japan could be complete without visiting a ryokan, which is a traditional Japanese Inn. It’s a classic Japanese experience, where you can immerse yourself in Japanese culture. In a ryokan, you can expect to sleep on a futon, relax in a Japanese open-air bathtub, and kick back in luxury bathrobes and slippers. Ryokans normally feature simplistic Japanese interior and sliding doors that look out onto a Japanese garden. Many also offer access to local natural hot springs. Kyoto is the best place to stay in a ryokan and there’s something available for every traveler’s price range. Here are the best ryokans in Kyoto:

By Sorasak

1. Tawaraya

They say that Tawaraya is not only the best ryokan in Kyoto but the best in all of Japan. Tawaraya oozes history — it has been offering accommodation to weary travelers for over 300 years and has been run by the same family line. It’s a ryokan experience where time seems to stand still. It features stunning traditional Japanese design and styling, with floors that are covered with tatami mats and delicious meals served directly to your suite. Each room has access to its own private Zen garden and hot spring, or onsen. If you love the idea of immersing yourself in a hot spring, check out the best onsens in Japan. The service is impeccable and the is food excellent. It’s so exclusive, there’s no way to book a room at Tawaraya online. You’ll have to call directly from abroad on 81-75-211-5566 during ryokan business hours.

By Masaaki Komori / Unsplash

2. Tamahan

Tamahan is a “hidden ryokan” and when you step inside, it’s hard to remember you’re in the middle of busy Kyoto city. Tamahan sits on a pedestrian-only alley called Ishibei-koji. It’s peaceful inside and the rooms look out onto a pretty inner garden. The rooms are large and spacious and the service is excellent. If you want to stay in central Kyoto and be close to the famous Geisha district without missing out on a traditional inn, Tamahan is the place for you.


3. Hiiragiya

Hitagiya sits just across the road from famous Tawaraya ryokan. Hiragiya is a high-class ryokan with luxurious rooms and impeccable service. While it feels less traditional than other ryokans due to its modern simplicity, its beauty is hard to beat. The Hiragiya ryokan features sleek Japanese-style rooms and furnishings. The food, which is made using local ingredients, is also excellent here, and the gardens are stunning.


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4. Yoshida Sanso

If you want to be close to some of Kyoto’s most secluded and beautiful temples, the Yoshida Sanso ryokan is an excellent choice. The ryokan is located on a hill to the north of Kyoto and is within walking distance to several secluded temples, while the rooms are kitted out in traditional Japanese style. Due to it’s serene location and proximity to temples, it’s one of the best ryokan inns in Kyoto!


5. Garden Ryokan Yachiyo

If you want to stay in a ryokan closer to town, the Garden Ryokan Yachiyo is a great choice. It’s located right beside the Nanzen-ji Temple and a subway stop that can take you right into the heart of town. It’s the perfect choice if you want to explore the city center, and also experience the tranquillity of a ryokan. The rooms are traditional and simple.

By Agoda

6. Hoshinoya

If you want to experience a ryokan in all its luxury, Hoshinoya is the choice for you. To get to Hoshinoya you will have to board a private boat up the Oigawa River, where you’ll be greeted at the entrance of the Hoshinoya inn by its warm staff. The ryokan has stunning views of the surrounding greenery and the river, and is as serene as it gets. The ryokan itself features an ultra-modern design, delicious food, and impeccable service.


7. Arashiyama Benkei 

Arashiyama Benkei is one of the best ryokans in Kyoto thanks to its incredible location. The inn lies within a tranquil bamboo forest and is completely secluded. As with many ryokans, at Arashiyama Benkei you’ll have direct access to a relaxing hot spring. The rooms feature traditional Japanese design.


8. Biwako Hanakaido 

The Biwako Hanakaido ryokan lies on the outskirts of Kyoto in Otsu. It’s just a short train ride from central Kyoto and offers stunning views, as well as being home to one of the most quaint Japanese gardens. The rooms are modern, yet maintain Japanese traditions. Some rooms come with a television LCD or plasma screen, air conditioning, and heating. You can also kick back at the hotel’s spa, which is has a sauna, hot spring bath, spa, massage service, and gardens.

By Booking

9. Seikoro

Seikoro is all about design. It features an art nouveau take on Japanese traditionalism and the simple rooms offer all the comforts you would expect at a ryokan. The rooms overlook a beautiful Japanese garden, and each room has its own wooden bathtub.

If you’re looking for more inspiration for your Japan trip, why not check out another of the best cities in Japan?

By Agoda
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