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Preparing for sightseeing in Kyoto: Choosing lodging part two - Different types of lodging in Kyoto

Preparing for sightseeing in Kyoto: Choosing lodging part two - Different types of lodging in Kyoto

Choosing a place to stay is an important part of traveling. Not only the good access to your sightseeing destinations, but also the attractive features of the lodging itself, such as a cozy room and delicious food, is essential for a pleasant trip. The first part of this article introduced lodging in Kyoto by area. This second part will provide an overview of the various types of lodging establishments available in Kyoto and their charms, with the hope that it will help you prepare for your trip to Kyoto.


The main purposes of your trip would likely be key in deciding the type of lodging you will stay at. There can be various purposes and priorities in traveling to Kyoto. You may want to visit as many tourist spots as possible, or you may want to enjoy various kinds of delicious local food. You may simply want to unwind and enjoy your time alone, or you may want to enjoy spending time with family and friends. Kyoto has various types of lodging that you can choose from to suit your plans.

Let us now check the types of lodging available in Kyoto by type.

Ryokan: Enjoy traditional and quaint, relaxing atmospheres at ryokan inns

Ryokan are the type of lodging perhaps most quintessential to Kyoto. The Japanese-style rooms with futon mattresses and stays that include dinner and breakfast make ryokan perfect for a relaxing visit to Kyoto. For those who prefer, some ryokan offer a breakfast-only option as well.

Ryokan can be further divided into the large types that can accommodate large tour groups and the small types that are smaller buildings such as traditional machiya houses. The okami-san (proprietress)’s spirit of hospitality and care can be felt in many ryokan that adorn the rooms with seasonal decorations and offer seasonal dishes.

① Large ryokan

The large ryokan usually have large public baths and banquet rooms, so they are suitable for people traveling with families or large groups. Many of these types of ryokan are located around Kyoto Station and the center of the city. These types of ryokan have a wide range of room tiers with corresponding prices to choose from.

② Small ryokan

Many of the small ryokan are Kyoto machiya (townhouse)-style buildings. Each has different characteristics in terms of specialty dishes and the ways of creating an elegant, Kyoto atmosphere. They are good for small groups and solo travelers.

Kyoto City awards ryokan that contribute not only to the lodging and tourism industry in Kyoto but also to handing down Japanese culture and tradition. 

Luxury hotels: Have an exceptional time and be impressed by the spirit of hospitality

And many other charming types of lodging!ct if you wish to enjoy the hotel experience to the fullest or if you wish to celebrate special occasions. The comfortable rooms and thorough services these hotels provide can make your trip exceptional. There are an increasing number of luxury hotels run by global companies nowadays with features such as bars with stunning views and spas and yoga classes.


Mid-tier, but often good value

There are many hotels with a price range in between those of luxury hotels and business hotels. They often have restaurants and gyms and sometimes serve very good breakfast. Some have rooms that are spacious, allowing a comfortable stay with family or friends. Many are located around Kyoto Station or slightly outside of the center of the city.

Business hotels - Excellent convenience and cost performance

Business hotels provide reasonably priced accommodation with adequate services. There are many business hotels in Kyoto, so it is relatively easy to find a room. Some business hotels even have onsen baths or offer good breakfast. They are suitable for solo trips or “workations” as well as business trips.

And many other charming types of lodging!


① Vacation house rental
Vacation house rentals are perfect for spending quality time with close friends or a group. They are different from hotels in that they usually have kitchens where you can cook by buying groceries at a local supermarket, and living rooms where you can focus on hobbies and activities with friends. Some traditional Japanese machiya houses are also available for vacation house rental.

② Apartment hotels
Apartment hotels are suitable for mid-term to long-term stays. Fully equipped with kitchens, furniture, and household appliances, they are perfect if your style of traveling is one in which you prefer to experience living in each place for some time.

③ Hotels that allow pets
Hotels that allow pets are wonderful if you want to travel with your furry friends. They are equipped with amenities for pets, and the staff can help you find restaurants and cafés that allow pets as well.

④ Shukubo (temple lodging)
One way to have a very Kyoto-like experience is to try out shukubo lodging where you stay in a temple and experience performing chores in the morning and having shojin-ryori Buddhist meals. This unique experience will be memorable and is bound to detox and refresh the mind and body. The prices to stay at some shukubo are surprisingly reasonable.

⑤ Guesthouses
Kyoto has many guesthouses, many of which use traditional Kyoto machiya houses and offer reasonably priced stays in dormitory rooms. Some of the guesthouses also offer beautiful private rooms with tsubo-niwa gardens. Other pros of guesthouses are that the owner may introduce shops and restaurants that are not on guidebooks and that you can get to know other travelers.

⑥ Hotels offering optional tours, etc.
Some hotels provide lodging with extra options such as seats to watch the three major festivals of Kyoto (Aoi Matsuri, Gion Matsuri, and Jidai Matsuri) or the Gozan no Okuribi ritual bonfires. Some hotels also offer lodging deals that include kimono dressing service or activities to experience Kyoto culture, so it may be worth checking them out if you are interested.

Kyoto is a place where you can enjoy various styles of lodging. Please enjoy staying at the type of lodging that best suits your priorities, the timing of your travel, or with whom you are traveling.

Article Author: Misako Tateoka


"I am an editor who moved to Kyoto from Tokyo.
I am usually involved in the creation of magazines such as "TRANSIT" and "FRaU", as well as in creating websites for companies and individuals, but that is just my official work. Behind the scenes, I run the "Secret Guide to Kyoto" - a page that explores Kyoto in depth with a focus on its locals (webpage available only in Japanese). I loved Kyoto even while I was a university student in Tokyo, and did student exchange at Doshisha University (majoring in history). My hobbies are aikido and eating out."
Writing Laboratory (website available only in Japanese)