10 Hotels to Navigate the World Heritage Sites of Nara
- Published: Apr 04 2023
Serving as the ancient capital between 710 and 784, Nara flourished as a powerful political, economic, and cultural center of Japan, and remains packed with World Heritage Sites flaunting its deep history. In this article, we’ll introduce 10 hotels with locations perfect for uncovering the best of Nara, all while enjoying its cuisine, hot springs, nature, and more!
10 Recommended Hotels in Nara
1. Nara Hotel
Nara Hotel is one of the most famous, historic hotels in Japan. Established more than 110 years ago, it was once the State Guest House of the Kansai area, hosting dignitaries and members of the Imperial Family and more. It sits upon a lush, green hill in Nara Park, near famous World Heritage Sites like Kofuku-ji and Todai-ji.
The hotel consists of the Main Building and the New Building. The Main Building was built in 1909 and has 62 guestrooms, all with elegant furnishings like mantlepieces from the time it was originally built. The New Building, which was finished in 1984, has all its guestrooms overlooking the garden courtyard, presenting beautiful, forest-like scenery from the windows and balconies.
Dining options include the stately main restaurant and the restaurant specializing in Japanese cuisine, alongside a traditional bar and an airy tea lounge. Guests are spoiled for choice as they dive into the great tastes of Nara in a classy, sophisticated environment!
2. Fufu Nara
Fufu Nara is also on the grounds of Nara Park, and is known for its magnificent furnishings of historic Yoshino cedar (high-end timber produced in Nara) and pottery made of local clay by Nara ceramicists.
Guestrooms are all spacious suites, some with open plans and others with separate bedrooms. Each flaunts a unique flair, with their own private open-air hot springs to unwind and enjoy the ever-changing Japanese garden scenery.
Dinner is served at the onsite restaurant and is a choice of classic Japanese or teppanyaki grill, both made with local ingredients. Breakfast is a helping of regional Nara dishes with soft, gentle flavorings. For night owls, there is also a chic bar that serves tasty original cocktails!
The hotel spa offers personalized treatments by dedicated specialists, completing your journey into relaxation to recover from the strain of traveling.
3. Nipponia Hotel Nara Naramachi
Along with being the ancient capital, Nara is also considered to be the “birthplace of sake,” where alcohol brewed from rice was first produced. Nipponia Hotel Nara Naramachi was opened by one of Nara’s most famous sake breweries, housed in an old residence once used for sake-making renovated into a comfortable hotel full of rustic charm.
Hotel dinners are centered around sake pairings, and feature a host of tasty French-style dishes and a fantastic assortment of sake, including limited-edition sake brewed just for the hotel, alongside seasonal and sparkling sake.
There are a total of eight guestrooms, each arranged to draw out the character of the architecture, like the high ceilings and exposed beams unique to traditional breweries. They are compact, with a calm, comforting atmosphere exhibiting the beauty of a time-honored Japanese house.
4. HARUYA Naramachi
HARUYA Naramachi is a hotel renovated from a traditional “machiya” townhouse built about 120 years ago featuring beautiful white plaster walls. There are 15 guestrooms, including shared rooms in the storehouse and comfortable private rooms, plus a lovely courtyard to enjoy Nara’s seasonal beauty.
A ”tori-niwa” (garden passage) is a corridor that runs directly from a building’s main entrance to the courtyard, typical of machiya-style architecture. Here the tori-niwa is used as a communal space where guests can sip coffee and tea and cook for themselves. The owner designed the hotel to be a place where guests can “enjoy themselves as if they are living in Nara,” so, instead of a meal service, guests are invited to cook or eat out. This makes HARUYA Naramachi ideal for extended stays, too.
Nara is a great city to explore by bicycle, which can be rented at HARUYA Naramachi for an extra fee. Heading out for the day on bike will make HARUYA Naramachi feel even more like your home in Nara!
5. Iroha Grand Hotel Kintetsu Nara Ekimae
Iroha Grand Hotel boasts a stellar location just 2 minutes on foot from Kintetsu Nara Station, Nara’s main sightseeing transportation hub, and 3 minutes from the entrance of Nara Park.
Newly opened in July 2022, it hosts 143 non-smoking guestrooms in a variety of different styles, like those with double beds and Japanese/Western fusion rooms with tatami mats and beds.
Breakfast is served in the onsite restaurant, which has a soothing, mellow atmosphere. Being semi-buffet style, it features a daily-changing main dish of fish or meat accompanied by an assortment of small dishes like rice and salad on the buffet table.
6. JW Marriott Hotel Nara
This is the first Japanese hotel by the renowned American luxury hotel chain JW Marriott Hotels. It presents a sleek, stylish interior inspired by Nara’s culture, nature, and temples, crafted by a London design firm known for its work on many of the world’s top hotels.
Inside are 158 spacious guestrooms, including 16 suites, all equipped with amenities by luxury UK brand Aromatherapy Associates, which are also used for treatments at the hotel spa.
The onsite “Azekura” restaurant is decorated in the style of Shoso-in, the Todai-ji Temple treasure house, and specializes in authentic Japanese cuisine. There is also another restaurant serving global dishes fusing the best of the East and West, with top-tier seasonal ingredients sourced from all over Japan.
Adding to the splendor is an indoor pool, 24-hour fitness center, and Jacuzzi, all free for hotel guests.
7. Centurion Hotel Classic Nara Station
Centurion Hotel Classic Nara Station is within walking distance of both JR Nara Station and Kintetsu Nara Station, offering stress-free access to major tourist destinations.
It has a collection of guestroom types ranging from compact, functional single rooms to doubles and twins. All are decorated in a sophisticated style with an emphasis on comfort, best seen in the beds by Slumberland, which services the British Royal Household.
Breakfasts include local Nara dishes, such as “chagayu” tea rice porridge, as well as five types of authentic Indian curries that are hugely popular. Each flavorful recipe was created to charge up guests for a full day of sightseeing ahead.
8. Hotel Nikko Nara
Hotel Nikko Nara is connected to JR Nara Station, allowing seamless access to transportation. The 330 guestrooms are distinguished by their light and calming interior, with large beds to ensure a good sleep. Those with views of iconic Nara sights like Mt. Wakakusa and the Five-Story Pagoda come particularly recommended.
One of the highlights of Hotel Nikko Nara is the morning buffet featuring around 50 different dishes, including nutritional traditional food and local specialties born through Nara’s long history and the wisdom of its ancestors. There are even authentic “shojin ryori” Buddhist vegetarian dishes recreated with support from World Heritage Site Kofuku-ji Temple, so be sure to give them a try!
Another perk is the spacious bathhouse available to hotel guests for free. While artificially heated, it uses a valuable natural mineral called “komeiseki,” mined in nearby Okayama Prefecture, and its waters are said to alleviate fatigue, nerve pain, and stiff shoulders. There is also an area with fitness machines free for hotel guests as well as an esthetics salon with private rooms.
9. Nara Royal Hotel
Heijo-kyo Palace is a World Heritage Site where the imperial residence of Nara once stood. Nara Royal Hotel offers superb access to this unmissable tourist destination, and features an elegant, stately brick facade sure to catch the eye.
The guestrooms are located on the 3rd and 4th floors, and are all fashioned with Western flair ranging from singles to spacious family rooms. They exude soft, bright tones for maximum contentment.
On the basement floor is a hot spring with natural geothermal water that wells up from within the Heijo-kyo Palace grounds. It boasts a roomy bathhouse bolstered by a sauna, bedrock bath, and body care salon, all guaranteed to leave you refreshed and ready for another action-packed day of sightseeing.
10. Hotel Asyl Nara
Hotel Asyl Nara is within walking distance of both JR Nara Station and Kintetsu Nara Station. It has a total of 39 rooms, ranging from compact singles to traditional Japanese-style rooms and suites with a wooden cypress bath and mini-kitchen accommodating up to eight guests.
Dinners are served in private or semi-private rooms at the onsite restaurant. They primarily feature Japanese courses made with fresh, local ingredients that go down a delight with local Nara sake!
Another highlight of Hotel Asyl Nara is the bathhouse, where guests can stretch out and recover from their travels. There is also a private bath that can be reserved for a fee for those who want a more exclusive experience. The bathtub here is made of “Shigaraki ware” pottery from Shiga Prefecture, also in the Kansai region, giving it a deep, tasteful elegance ideal for long soaks without interruption from other guests.
Discover the Ancient Side of Japan at a Nara Hotel
Nara is about 3 hours by bullet train and regular train from Tokyo Station and just one hour from Osaka. It is steeped in fascinating history, witnessed through its numerous World Heritage Sites and more. By staying at one of the hotels featured in this article, you can enjoy convenient access to the best of Nara, alongside a wealth of wonderful food, impeccable service, and relaxing hot springs!
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The information in this article is accurate at the time of publication.