August 16, 2010

Kyoto Ryokan

You may remember a long time ago, I was obsessed with the ryokan and onsen of Izu, Hakone and Shizuoka - the lovely area just past Mount Fuji on the coast of Japan.  Well, my dream of going to my ultimate onsen - Asebino - had to be scrapped.  (for a few reasons, mostly travel time etc.)

But happily! Oh so so happily, we are now able to pop into Kyoto for a night, which more than makes up for the loss.  In my free time (which like everybody is dwindling) the obsession has been sparked again, and I thought I'd share some of my top picks for Kyoto ryokan.

All of these ryokan are //
  • Walking distance from JR Kyoto station
  • Under $400 for the night including meals
  • Authentic  (not a 2009 ryokan distressed to look Old Edo)
  • Have excellent traveler reviews on TripAdvisor etc...

around ¥200 for 2 people per night for small room
cash only // some rooms have no private toilet // only 5 rooms
PROS : nice comments about family who operates
CONS : horrible website, book with

around ¥340 for 2 people per night with dinner + breakfast
curfew at 11pm // private or shared bathroom
PROS : beautiful website, but book with proxy
CONS : must choose the dinner + breakfast meal plan, meaning you have to be back from sight seeing at a specific time or you will lose them

MOTONAGO (image at the top)
unfortunately this one was booked for my requested night, but it's highly recommended!
and the English website is beautiful and easy to navigate

In the end, I booked a small 8 tatami room (12'x12') with shared bath at Kikokuso.  I had the opportunity for about $150 more, to book a room at Izuyasu with dinner + breakfast included, a larger room size and private bath. 
Why didn't I do this?  

Because Andy and I only have one night in Kyoto, and we want to walk as far and do as much stuff as we can in one day, including the ever lovely Jidai Matsuri and Toji Temple flea market, and that means we want to eat out instead of having to be back at a certain time.  If you aren't around for your scheduled dinner, you will lose the meal!  We also don't need a larger room, since we have booked other places in Tokyo that are fancy schmancy enough for us. AND just LOOK at the garden - WOW

If you have any questions, please email me.  I have honestly looked and compared about 58 different places all around the Kyoto area, so may have some insight for you!

Booking tips //
  • Most of these ryokans are family run, almost always the wife is the owner, and if you REALLY want to impress them with your foreign sophistication, bring the head mistress a small gift from your country and watch them light up.
  • Almost all are cash only
  • Usually no single guests
  • Usually only 5 - 15 rooms per building
  • Most have a private toilet + bath but you could end up sharing a bathroom with 2 or 3 other rooms on your floor
  • is a great site to help you book in Kansai


    Looks like so much fun!

    Looks like pretty good choice too, since you will only be staying for such a short time!


  2. Wow, you really did your homework. Except for large chain stores, Japan really is a cash only place. Stock up at the ATM!

  3. i went to kyoto last time i went to japan
    a few times
    always took the hankyu train instead of JR because apparently it is more city central

    have fun :D

  4. Corey - I book marked your Tokyo Essentials post!!

  5. Wow it looks like you made a great choice! You will be on cloud 9!

  6. THIS SOUNDS LIKE A DREAM! I like your choice!!

  7. It's surprising how quickly things can add up at a ryokan. I think Kyoto has more competition so better rates than the Mt. Fuji area did. You made a smart decision with the booking! You're right, you HAVE to be back at a certain time. You think you'll have more time to get out before meals, but it's a trick! Because there are surprise snack & tea times too which you'll miss so yea, smart smart! Besides you can maybe get a kaiseki meal somewhere else on your trip :)

  8. They all look absolutely amazing! I hope you have an amazing time while you're there! And great job with the research.