Book Them All Online! 20 Recommended Ryokan in Kyoto
You’ve finally made it to Kyoto and you’d like to stay at a ryokan, a traditional Japanese-style inn. To help you out, we’ve scoured though the many choices and picked the top 20 ryokan to introduce! Enjoy Kyoto's thoughtful "omotenashi" hospitality and elegant spaces to your heart’s content at these ryokan!
Dec 21 2018 (Sep 09 2020)
What is a Ryokan?
The official definition of a ryokan is "a lodging facility where the structure and facilities are primarily Japanese-style." Hence, many ryokan are known for their traditional Japanese atmosphere, where sleep on futons (Japanese-style mattresses) rolled out on tatami mats (Japanese straw flooring). Presently, there are over 40,000 ryokan all across Japan, and among these, many are long-established ones that have been operating for over 100 years.
Recently, in response to the various needs of guests, ryokan that have beds arranged on top of tatami mats have been increasing. You should search for the type of ryokan that best suits you!
1. Kyokoyado Yasaka Yutone [Kyoto City]
This is a ryokan where you can eat genuine Kaiseki cuisine (traditional Japanese banquet cuisine) featuring luxurious ingredients like Kyo-Yasai (traditional vegetables from Kyoto), seasonal ingredients, and other ingredients Kyoto is famous for, like yuba (tofu skin), tofu, and nama-fu (wheat starch). You'll want to savor all the subtle flavors of their beautifully presented food.
The guest rooms are reminiscent of a Kyo-machiya (traditional Kyoto townhouse), and are furnished with comfortable beds. There are 7 different types of guest rooms, including “Usubeni” and “Kikyo”, which each come with twin beds. You can relax to your heart’s content in a room of your preference. Of course, all the rooms come with free Wi-Fi.
Another attractive point of this lodge is that it’s only about a 3-minute walk to Hokan-ji Temple and its 5-storied Yasaka Pagoda (Yasaka no To), which is a registered World Heritage Site. It’s the perfect place for enjoying the atmosphere of ancient Kyoto.
2. Kabukiya [Kyoto City]
3. Mitsuki Kyoto [Kyoto City]
This is an old ryokan from the Meiji era (1868 - 1911) which has kept its traditional sukiya-style architecture (previously used for Japanese tea houses). The fact that there are only two separate guest rooms makes this quite a luxurious place to stay in. The tiredness from your trip can be soothed away by the warm lantern light spilling in from the inner courtyard.
For breakfast, you can enjoy an arrangement of fine Kyoto dishes, such as slightly sweet fish grilled with Saikyo miso (also known as white miso) and miso soup also made from Saikyo miso.
This inn stands a little way inside the ever-bustling Karasuma Street (Karasuma-dori), where there are many different kinds of shops. However, you’ll be able to forget the hustle and bustle of everyday life and spend a quiet night here.
Also, you’d be happy to know that it’s just around a 3-minute walk from Marutamachi Station!
4. Mugen [Kyoto City]
You can spend your time in comfort at this inn, which stands quietly in a corner of Kyoto’s Nishijin district. There are only 5 guest rooms, each with its own individual design, so go ahead and pick your favorite.
Room 203 has some additional Asian influences skillfully mixed into the traditional Japanese architecture. All of the rooms are free of televisions, so you will surely be able to pass the time peacefully.
For breakfast, you need to try some of their rice that's cooked on an old-fashioned stove. It tastes especially delicious with their miso soup! Take your time savoring it while gazing out at the inner garden.
5. Kyoto Wazukaso [Soraku District]
Wazuka-cho, which is located in the Soraku district southeast of Kyoto Prefecture, is famous as a producer of Uji tea (high-quality green tea from Uji, Kyoto). This inn is surrounded by the lush greenery of that tea, and staying here lets you enjoy the charm of this part of Kyoto, which is significantly different from Kyoto City.
There are 4 guest rooms: 2 Japanese-style rooms, and 2 Western-style rooms. The above photo is of the “Okumidori” room, which has 2 single beds. Have a tranquil stay in one of these rooms, which are all named after varieties of tea. Since they’re a tea-producing area, they have a tea bath that has actual tea leaves from Wazuka-cho in the water! Please enjoy this highly aromatic bath.
Dinner is seasonal Kaiseki cuisine that incorporates tea. After the food, you can enjoy savoring their gentle, fragrant tea.
6. Yadoya Manjiro [Kyoto City]
This inn was once the setting for a novel, and was a ryokan where the landlady (a former tea house owner in Gion) would only let certain people spend the night. The building, constructed in the sukiya style of architecture, was built in the early Showa period (around the year 1930) and integrates the atmosphere of old-time Kyoto.
The guest rooms inside the building carry a sense of stillness in the air and feel like a hideaway. This room is the “Matsu no Ma” room. From June to September it’s rearranged so that you can best enjoy the charms of the Kyoto summer.
The popular Sannen-zaka and Ninen-zaka Streets are right in front of the inn, so it’s in a great location. Even in this day and age, you can spend an indulgent moment surrounding yourself with Kyoto’s history and culture.
7. Gion Morisyo [Kyoto City]
This 120-year-old sukiya style inn is famous for being an inn where Japan’s literary master Tanizaki Junichiro often stayed. It is in a great location where you can enjoy a stroll around the historic streets.
The courtyard is small but well-kept, and you’ll be able to feel Kyoto’s refined beauty and traditional atmosphere here.
The “Tsuru no Ma” room is where Tanizaki Junichiro would stay. You can see Mt. Higashi from the window, and you can have a quiet stay while still being close to many tourist spots. Also, this is a "katadomari ryokan" (breakfast comes included) so you can look forward to that as well.
8. Ryokan Okuda [Kyoto City]
Established in 1955, this purely Japanese ryokan is well-located in a spot just around a 3-minute walk from Gion-shijo Station.
For Japanese people, this fits their expectations of a ryokan, and every corner overflows with a feeling of nostalgia. There is tea set on top of the zataku (a low, wide desk primarily used in Japanese-style rooms), which you can use to brew your own tea.
When it’s time to sleep, you can rest on the futon spread out on the tatami (depending on the season, there may sometimes be futon spread out on top of mattresses). Sleeping in a soft and fluffy futon is surprisingly comfortable despite being on the floor!
What’s more, this inn is also popular for its great value for money. It’s in a great location, making it easy to access Kyoto's many tourist spots.
9. Ryokan Tori [Kyoto City]
This inn is in the Nishijin area of Kyoto, which is famous for producing Nishijin-ori (silk fabric), one of Kyoto’s traditional crafts. Made from a renovated townhouse built over 120 years ago, this ryokan is arranged in a modern style that makes good use of the traditional architecture, and has an air of refinement and elegance.
The guest rooms are completely absent of any excessive items like televisions or clocks. In the photo is the “Seisho” room on the 2nd floor. There is an engawa (veranda) so it’s recommended that you gaze outside, let time slip away, and just relax.
Their Japanese-style breakfast has been rated as being very delicious! All the lodging plans come with breakfast included, and rice is served up from an o-hitsu (a wooden container for holding cooked rice), so be sure to try a traditional Japanese breakfast.
10. Kyokoyado Muromachi Yutone [Kyoto City]
This 7-room inn stands in the Muromachi area, close to the heart of Kyoto City. In the photo is the “Sakura” room which comes in a twin style. You can relax to your heart’s content amongst the sophisticated design of the inn.
Each guest room is very clean and comes furnished with a bathtub made from fragrant hinoki cypress wood, so you can enjoy taking baths as much as you’d like.
Muromachi Street has been around since even before the Muromachi era (1338 - 1573), and it is on this historical street that you can find this homely ryokan. You’ll also be grateful that it’s close to many sightseeing spots!
11. Ohanabo [Kyoto City]
12. Kyoto Chanoyado Nazuna [Kyoto City]
This inn is close to Nijo Castle in Kyoto. Their concept is “an inn where you can feel the essence of Kyoto and Japan”, and there is indeed a sense of “Japanese-ness” in every detail.
This is the “Genmaicha” room, which incorporates the atmosphere of Kyoto’s traditional townhouses. In addition, there are 5 rooms in total where you can enjoy the elegance reminiscent of olden-times, for example, the “Gyokuro” room where you can enjoy the traditional Japanese atmosphere.
At this inn, all the rooms come with a rotenburo (open-air bath). This is Nazuna’s only maisonette-type open-air bath, “Houjicha”. Enjoy a soak in the bath while looking out at the gardens.
13. Ryotei Rangetsu [Kyoto City]
This inn stands near Mt. Arashi, where you can enjoy the bountiful nature and the seasonal changes. When you pass through the stately wooden gates, you’d be greeted by the warm light of the lamps and traditional Japanese atmosphere.
The dinner here consists of Kaiseki cuisine made from natural, seasonal ingredients. The subtle, Kyoto-style flavorings are to die for.
This special room is the “Mizu Ryu” guest room which has a rotenburo. Of course, you can see Mt. Arashi from the rooms and the rotenburo. You can also see the Katsura River flowing nearby. It is a space where you’ll be able to pass the time comfortably.
14. Yadoya Kikokuso [Kyoto City]
With its picturesque courtyard with moss-covered stones, lanterns, and more, this wooden ryokan has the perfect Japanese atmosphere. This ryokan originally had 12 rooms, but under the concept of “giving each individual traveler the perfect level of hospitality,” they were made into 4 large guest rooms where you can thoroughly relax.
The guest rooms overflow with traditional Japanese elegance. You can sit in the chairs next to the window and gaze outside to relax your heart and mind.
It’s easy to access, being just around a 6-minute walk from Shichijo Station. Shosei-en Garden, which belongs to Higashi Honganji Temple, has a beautiful chisen-kaiyu-shiki style garden (the garden surrounds a pond) and is right in front of the inn. This is a place where you can surely have a peaceful time.
15. Ryokan Uemura [Kyoto City]
This wonderfully-located inn stands in a corner of Ishibei-koji Lane in Kyoto’s Mt. Higashi area. This former tea shop was first established in 1914, closed for a period, and then re-opened as a ryokan in 1970. Each part of this inn has an air of simplicity and nostalgia.
The guest rooms have about 100 years of history inside them. Depending on the room, you might able to see the World Heritage Horyuji Temple’s 5-story pagoda.
Ishibei-koji Lane is paved with flagstones. During the quiet nights, you can hear the pleasant sound of footsteps echoing on the flagstones. Anyone wishing to experience the old-style Kyoto should definitely stay at this inn.
16. Kyonokoyado Miyagawacho Yoshii [Kyoto City]
This inn has both the Japanese-style comfort of a ryokan and the amenities of a modern hotel. There are only 3 guest rooms, and each one has a different view. For example, from the “Miyagawa” room you can see the inner garden. and from the “Kamo” room you can see the Kamo River, and so forth, so you can choose depending on what you prefer. This is the “Yasaka” room where you can see the Gion Kaburenjo Theater, where geisha and maiko (apprentice geisha) practice singing and dancing.
This is the hinoki cypress bathtub in the “Kamo” room. The refreshing smell of the hinoki cypress wood wafts through the air and soothes your tired body and mind.
This inn is built in an area of Kyoto that has preserved its historical landscape, and sometimes when you’re heading in the direction of the nearby Gion Kaburenjo Theater, or even when you’re on your way back to the inn, you might just catch a glimpse of a maiko or a geisha.
17. Kamuroan [Kyoto City]
This small inn in Kyoto is convenient for sightseeing, being just around a 7-minute walk from World Heritage site Kiyomizu-dera Temple, and around a 15-minute walk from the Gion district. When you pass under the welcoming entrance gates, the friendly proprietress of the inn will be waiting there to greet you.
Seasonal flowers are arranged casually in the hallways, and the proprietress sees to all the small details of the inn. It’s definitely because of this pleasantness that many of the guests become repeat customers.
This inn is also stocked with amenities, so spend the time feeling at home in a manner somewhat different from other inns. Guests are limited to 2-3 groups at a time, so be sure to make your reservations as soon as possible.
18. Hotel Jukaitei [Kyotango City]
This ryokan is located on the Tango Peninsula in the northern area of Kyoto, and the location is absolutely exquisite. The Sea of Japan extends right before your eyes. In particular, the sight of the setting sun sinking below the horizon will undoubtedly be a memory you won’t forget.
This inn boasts of having the best view of Kyoto’s Tango area and all the rooms have an ocean view. You’ll be mesmerized by the scenery that changes moment by moment.
Also, you can have a refined moment to yourself with a private bath in the hinoki cypress bathtub with a view, available in all guest rooms. The dinner spread that includes a diverse variety of seafood is also unforgettable.
19. Kaikatei Hanagozen [Kyotango City]
This inn is also in Kyotango, Kyoto’s northern area. It’s a quiet inn that stands right beside the Yuhigaura Hot Spring. Travellers are greeted with the inn's traditional Japanese appearance that includes a Japanese garden with a flowing waterfall.
There are 29 guests rooms in total: the ippan (general) guest rooms in the main building are quite roomy, the rotenburo-tsuki guest rooms (rooms that come with an open-air bath) allow you to enjoy your own private time, the east-facing teian rotenburo-tsuki guest rooms (rooms that come with an open-air bath and face the garden) give you the Japanese gardens all to yourself. There’s also west-facing rooms and much more, so you can choose the type that best suits you.
A highly popular feature is the large public bath where you can enjoy bijin-no-yu (water with beautifying effects) from the Yuhigaura Hot Spring. In the photo is the “Shirohada Yu” room that comes with an open-air bath and faces the garden. Also, guests staying the night can use the large public bath in the Kaikatei Shihoukaku sister building, so it’s recommended that you visit multiple hot springs.
20. Matsui-Honkan [Kyoto City]
This inn is popular for being a place where you can receive the kind of heartfelt care and attention typical of Kyoto. When you pass under the sukiya-style gate, you enter a space where the style of old Kyoto and modern Kyoto co-exist.
While there are lodging plans with no meals or only breakfast included, you really must try the dinner with traditional Kaiseki cuisine. The head chef puts their heart and soul into making each dish, which is then delicately arranged and presented to you. The seasonal flavors are truly scrumptious.
The guest rooms are extremely easy and comfortable to use while still keeping their traditional Japanese air. There is also an accessible Universal Design Room, which can be used by persons with wheelchairs, something you can only find at inns which prioritize the needs of their customers like this one.
※The fees listed are for reference purposes only. Fees may vary depending on the season. Also, prices may fluctuate without prior notice so be sure to check in advance.
The information in this article is accurate at the time of publication.