10 Hotels and Ryokan in Nara With Splendid Views of the Ancient Capital
Around 1,300 years ago, Nara was the capital of Japan, and it remains a city chock-full of remarkable historic sites. In this article, we’ll introduce our picks for 10 chic hotels and classic “ryokan” traditional Japanese inns offering fantastic views of the ancient cityscape. By staying at one of these top-notch accommodations, you’ll be right next to the Nara Park area, home to World Heritage Sites like Kasuga-taisha Shrine, Kofuku-ji Temple, and Todai-ji Temple. Read on to find a Nara hotel that suits your style and itinerary!
May 16 2023
10 Hotels and Ryokan in Nara With Views of the Ancient Capital
1. Ando Hotel Nara Wakakusayama
Ando Hotel Nara Wakakusayama sits on the side of Mt. Wakakusa in the eastern part of Nara Park. It boasts magnificent vistas of World Heritage Sites like Todai-ji, the Five-Storied Pagoda of Kofuku-ji, and the Mt. Kasuga Primeval Forest, an ancient forest preserved for over 1,000 years as a sacred part of Kasuga-taisha Shrine. The hotel has “omotenashi” (Japanese hospitality) down to a fine art, and was designed under the concept of “relief that comes from harmony with nature.”
Inside is a selection of six guestroom types, all inspired by the surrounding beauty, such as the nourishing aromas of trees, soil full of nature’s blessings, and the soft texture of traditional Nara textiles. Of particular note is the Penthouse Suite, which has a private open-air bath and firepit, offering a cozy nook of sublime tranquility. The Panorama View Twin, which looks out over the ancient cityscape, is also highly recommended.
There is also a rooftop open-air bath that can be reserved for private use. Be sure to make a booking to take in the views while enjoying a soak, free from the distractions of other guests. Creative cuisine is served in the main dining room using French techniques with a nod to Nara’s local food culture. In the mornings, guests can get stuck into lovely Japanese breakfast sets made with seasonal local ingredients. The hotel has English-speaking staff.
You’ll need reservations while in Japan. See our writers’ top picks!
2. Miroku Nara by the Share Hotels
Overlooking the Mt. Kasuga Primeval Forest, Miroku Nara by the Share Hotels is near Naramachi, a district known for its well-preserved historic townscape, and Nara Park. While surrounded by vestiges of the past, it is a modern hotel and community hub showcasing the “now” of Nara.
With seven varying room types, the hotel can accommodate solo travelers, couples, groups, and families. We recommend the “Hollywood Twin Superior with Japanese-style and Mountain View,” which presents a seamless fusion of Japanese and Western elements, with views of the Mt. Kasuga Primeval Forest and the Five-Storied Pagoda of Kofuku-ji to boot.
The onsite café bar was designed by Kuruminoki, a popular Nara café with fans around Japan. There is also an outdoor terrace facing the pond which is sometimes visited by friendly deer, a beloved icon of Nara. Breakfast is a nutritional balance of Japanese and Western food made with ample local ingredients. During café and bar hours, a plethora of drinks like Yamato tea from Nara, craft beer, and homemade liqueur are served together with sweets and snacks made of traditional preserved foods. English assistance is available.
3. Hotel New Wakasa
Hotel New Wakasa is just 5 minutes on foot from the Great Buddha Hall of Todai-ji. Guestrooms present sweeping views of Nara, including Nara Park and Mt. Wakasa, also visible from the rooftop sky deck. To the west is Mt. Ikoma, which marks the border of Nara and Osaka.
To fully take in the scenery, reserve a room with an open-air bath, where you can relish a luxurious soak in front of the magnificent symbols of Nara. Each guestroom is designed differently, allowing guests to choose one that appeals to them. There is an exclusive guest-only rooftop garden, perfect for watching the sunset and the twinkling city lights after dark.
There is also a private reservable bathroom with a “hinoki” cypress bathtub large enough to stretch out and absorb the scenery. It is available for 3,850 yen (50 minutes). A multi-course “kaiseki” dinner crafted from seasonal ingredients and Nara specialties is served in the evening, while the beloved local dish “Yamato chagayu” is available in the morning. For those looking to learn more about Nara cuisine, it doesn’t get more authentic than this! English and Chinese assistance is available.
4. Wakasa Annex
Wakasa Annex is a ryokan run by Hotel New Wakasa, which is located next door. The interior has the feel of a traditional “machiya” townhouse of Naramachi, decorated in a way that reflects the refined elegance of Nara.
The guestrooms are primarily Japanese style dressed with Nara lattices and the gentle scent of soft rush from tatami mats. For those who would rather sleep in a bed, there are also Western-style rooms with contemporary Japanese flair.
On the top floor is Nara’s only bathhouse with views of the Great Buddha Hall of Todai-ji and Mt. Wakakusa from the bathtub. Soak in the soft, warm water while gazing upon the scenery, and you’ll no doubt feel like you’ve returned to the days of Nara’s prime. Hotel New Wakasa also has a private bath with a view available for reservation. Services are offered in English and Chinese.
Asukasou is a ryokan-restaurant with picture-perfect scenes of the Five-Storied Pagoda of Kofuku-ji. The spacious, serene traditional Japanese-style guestrooms reflect the culture and aesthetic of the ancient city, and there are also rooms with Western beds for maximum comfort. Plus, the traditional Japanese connecting rooms can accommodate up to eight guests, perfect for families and groups.
On the top floor is an open-air hot spring looking out over Kofuku-ji and the Nara cityscape. After sundown, be sure to take a peek outside - the Five-Story Pagoda is utterly breathtaking when illuminated at night. There is also a private open-air bath that can be reserved for 3,300 yen (40 mins), so you can have the fantastic scenery all to yourself!
As a ryokan-restaurant, Asukasou prides itself on outstanding food served in the comfort of your own room. The dinner menu changes monthly, developed by a veteran chef with special attention to seasonality. Nara is also the birthplace of sake, and there is a wide selection of Nara brews to indulge in, as well as craft beer. Locally brewed sake is paired with multi-course kaiseki cuisine made with regional ingredients, allowing one to fully relish the authentic tastes of Nara.
Breakfast consists of unique, carefully prepared Japanese dishes like “chagayu” (tea porridge) made with hojicha tea, along with “dashimaki tamago” (a type of Japanese omelet) prepared on the spot. English-speaking staff are available.
Mikasa is perched half-way up Mt. Wakakusa, granting guests a peaceful stay amidst idyllic nature. No matter when you visit, there will always be some form of seasonal scenery to enjoy. The lobby has large windows with panoramic views of Nara framed by the greenery of Mt. Wakakusa, which transforms into a glittering sea of lights at night.
There is a wide selection of guestroom types, including those fusing Japanese and Western elements, and others with attached open-air baths, views of the Great Buddha Hall of Todai-ji, and resort-like maisonettes. For fabulous in-room vistas, book the “Japanese-Style Room with View” in the Kaze-no-To or Tsuki-no-To wing.
To top it all off, there is a spacious open-air bath letting tired guests freshen up in warm waters in the invigorating outdoors. After bathing, you'll tuck into a dinner of colorful multi-course kaiseki of the highest standard. English-speaking staff are available.
7. Setre Naramachi
Setre Naramachi is a hotel near the bank of Sarusawaike Pond and close to the Five-Storied Pagoda of Kofuku-ji－perfect for immersing yourself in the energy of Nara. The interior is designed with traditional techniques and materials from Nara that have been nurtured over the centuries, including renowned high-quality cedar and cypress from Yoshino. Along with the architecture, the furniture is also crafted from Yoshino wood, made especially for the hotel.
The hotel welcomes guests with inviting scents. Diffusers made of Yoshino cedar are soaked in the daily aroma and given to guests to use as they please, such as placing it in the closet to add a fragrance to clothes, or by the bedside to help with sleep. From the five different types of guestrooms, we recommend the Machiya Room, which features a traditional “tsubo-niwa” inner garden often seen in machiya-style houses.
There are several spaces for guests to relax in, such as the terrace looking out over the Five-Storied Pagoda, an airy guest-only lounge serving food and drink, and library & record room. There is also a free rental bicycle service, letting you see more of Nara without taking public transport. English-speaking staff are available.
8. Sarusawaike Yoshidaya
Sarusawaike Yoshidaya is a ryokan that has been welcoming guests with a warm hospitality unchanged since opening its doors in 1868. A night here is one of comfort and serenity, accompanied by the echoing bell of Kofuku-ji, which is rung three times a day at 6:00 am, noon, and 6:00 pm. Each guestroom has a unique flair, all done in contemporary Japanese taste, and equipped with duvet-covered beds. The west-facing rooms have wonderful views of Sarusawaike Pond.
There is a large bathhouse to soothe your muscles and freshen up before dinner, connected to the main building via an atmospheric corridor with flagstone flooring. There is also a private bath from where you can see the Five-Storied Pagoda available to reserve for free, which is best visited during the night-time light-up.
Dinner is multi-course kaiseki cuisine prepared with the utmost care. Each dish uses fresh, seasonal ingredients and are presented like works of art on gorgeous tableware. Mornings start with an energizing Japanese breakfast of fluffy rice cooked in a traditional “kamado” stove served with miso soup and grilled fish. English-speaking staff are on regular duty.
9. An-Grande Hotel Nara
An-Grande Hotel Nara is close to Kintetsu Nara Station, the gateway to Nara Park, making it an excellent base for sightseeing. The hotel is highly rated for its kind, attentive staff, who are dedicated to ensuring a splendid stay for all guests.
The spacious and lavish guestrooms feature Simmons beds－said to be the height of comfort! Of the five different types, we recommend the luxurious “View Bath Junior Suite” and “Panorama View Superior Twin”, which has windows on two sides. Many guestrooms also have views of Kofuku-ji, Nara Park, and Mt. Wakakusa.
Breakfast is a choice of Japanese or Western cuisine, served in a restaurant with a wooden deck. The food is made with local ingredients and flavored simply, ensuring a good start to the day. There are staff who can speak English and Korean.
10. Hotel Tenpyo Naramachi
Hotel Tenpyo Naramachi, which is right beside Sarusawaike Pond, is about 7 minutes on foot from Kintetsu Nara Station. It is a concept hotel built around the theme of “calligraphy,” realized through the works of famous calligraphers displayed throughout the building. The lobby is also crowned by a unique tea room encased in “narasarashi,” which is a high-quality linen made using a weaving technique registered as an Intangible Cultural Property. It is a traditional craft of Nara Prefecture, and was once dubbed the “highest form of linen” for its quality and beautiful white hue.
Guestrooms exude stylish contemporary Japanese flair, and those facing Sarusawaike Pond present a delightful pondside landscape adorned by the Five-Story Pagoda of Kofuku-ji. The in-room sinks are crafted from Akahada ware, a type of pottery with a soft, milky color, and decorated with beautiful Nara drawings. The rooms are further embellished with various types of hand-made washi paper, such as “uda-gami,” a traditional craft from Yoshino in Nara, used in the shoji screens, wallpaper, and lighting.
After grabbing a coffee from the first-floor Starbucks, guests can get some fresh air on the terrace overlooking Sarusawaike Pond, and take in the time-honored landscape without moving a muscle.
You’ll need reservations while in Japan. See our writers’ top picks!
Embrace the Best of Japan’s Ancient Capital With a Hotel in Nara
From swanky hotels to charming ryokan, there's an accommodation for travelers of all kinds in Nara! Bookmark this article when planning your Nara itinerary, and get to know the city’s main sights from the convenience and comfort of one of these top-rate Nara hotels!
If you want to give feedback on any of our articles, you have an idea that you'd really like to see come to life, or you just have a question on Japan, hit us up on our Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram!
The information in this article is accurate at the time of publication.