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Where To Stay in Kyoto – Our Favourite Areas & Hotels

If there is one city in Japan that is on just about everyone’s travel itinerary it has to be Kyoto. While the beautiful temples, shrines, and historic sites are what draws most people to Kyoto, the city has a lot more to offer.

As more than a million foreign visitors every year discovers, the city provides world-class shopping, mouth-watering cuisine (Kyoto has seven three-star Michelin restaurants!), and some of the most diverse accommodation options anywhere in Japan. With so many hotels and guest houses to choose from, deciding where to stay in Kyoto can be a challenge.

Kyoto is divided into districts each with its own distinct personality. Where you want to stay depends on what you consider your top priority. Is it easy access to transportation, proximity to the popular sights, restaurants, and nightlife, or are you looking for somewhere to escape and enjoy the beautiful nature?

In this article, we summarize what we think are Kyoto’s best areas to stay in and why. For each area, we have listed our favorite hotels and Ryokans at every budget – Top-End, Mid-range, and Budget.

Whether you’re looking for that beautiful world-class luxury hotel, with unbeatable Japanese service, a night in a traditional Ryokan (Japanese Inn), a good mid-range hotel, or a cozy budget guesthouse we have a recommendation for you.

Where To Stay In Kyoto

Kyoto Bamboo ForrestIn Kyoto, you will find everything from Luxury Hotels that can rival the finest in the world to affordable business hotels for the businessman that did not make it home after the evenings drinking and anything in between.

If you would like to stay in a Ryokan, a traditional Japanese Inn, where you sleep on futon mats and eat a traditional Japanese dinner then Kyoto has more Ryokans than any other city. If you are curious about staying in a Ryokan you can read about our Ryokan experience.

Researching this guide has been a massive task that started before we even left for Kyoto, continued through the time we spent there and beyond. To make this as complete and as useful a resource as possible, we have in addition to our own, including some recommendations from people we know and whose opinion we trust.

Important: None of the hotels recommended here are paid placements or have sponsored our stay in any way. If you book through any of the links, we make a small commission, at no extra cost to you. This helps keep our site running – so thank you in advance for your support! ♥

We hope you find this guide helpful in finding the best place to stay in Kyoto!


The Most Popular Areas To Stay In Kyoto

Below are Kyoto’s 6 most popular areas to stay in for visitors, ordered from the most attractive area first:


On the map above: Downtown = purple, Southern Higashiyama = orange, Kyoto Railway Station = red, Central Kyoto = green, Northern Higashiyama = blue, Arashiyama = brown

1. Downtown Kyoto

Downtown Kyoto area map
Downtown Kyoto area map – Click here for a larger version

Downtown Kyoto covers an area in the center of Kyoto on the west bank of the Kamo River. It includes the historic Ponto-Cho Geisha district as well as the modern shopping district of Shijo.

Why Stay In Downtown Kyoto?

Most visitors to Kyoto choose to stay in this area and for good reasons. There are some very very nice hotels here, and the area offers a pleasant break from all the temple watching. If you want to stay in an area with easy access to hundreds of shops, malls, restaurants, bars, food markets, and excellent nightlife this is the place.

Nishiki Market
Nishiki Market in Downtown Kyoto

The famous sightseeing areas of Southern Higashiyama are within walking distance. The cities two main subway lines also run through here along with a couple of train lines making it easy to get around the rest of the city.

What’s the catch?

Downtown has lost a bit of its old-world charm to modern development, and flashy neon signs have long since replaced the once handpainted signage.

Things To Do In Downtown Kyoto

  • Nishiki market – It’s a lot of fun walking through this huge food market with all the strange and wonderful food on display. It’s also perfect to visit on a rainy day with its covered roof.
  • Kyoto International Manga Museum – Here you will find more than 300 000 Manga comic books from all over the world. Manga is a big part of Japanese culture, and this is an excellent place to learn more about its history. The exhibition is in Japanese and English.
  • Shopping – The Shijo district is Kyoto’s most modern shopping district with shopping malls such as Takashimaya and Daimaru that can rival Tokyo. The pedestrian-only covered streets of Teramachi-dori and Shinkyogoku are also popular with shoppers.
  • Ponto-cho – A traditional nightlife area and one of the five traditional Geisha/Geiko areas in Kyoto. The narrow alley Ponto-cho is especially atmospheric in the evenings with its traditional wooden houses and Japanese lanterns.

Where To Stay In Downtown Kyoto

Top End

The Ritz-Carlton Kyoto
The elegance and sophistication of Ritz-Carlton coupled with a unique Japanese flair for style, this is truly a quiet oasis of luxury in the heart of Kyoto. It’s pricey but perfect for that honeymoon or that once-in-a-lifetime splurge! Service is as expected world-class and its location overlooking the river is spectacular. The rooms are large and beautifully designed, the swimming pool is lovely, and the hotel’s many restaurants are all excellent.
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Mid Range

Kyoto Hotel Okura
The Hotel Okura is an older, but classy hotel that is surprisingly affordable. The rooms are spacious, comfortable, elegantly furnished and thanks to some heavy-duty sound isolation, very quiet. A direct connection to the Kyotoshiyakusho-mae Subway Station right next door makes getting around the city very easy. Ponto-Cho and the shopping areas of Shijo and Karasuma are all within easy walking distance. The breakfast buffet is excellent and served on the 17th floor with views overlooking the river. They even have an in-house bakery as well as several restaurants.
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Solaria Nishitetsu Hotel Kyoto Premier
A new modern hotel in a fabulous location overlooking the Kamogawa river. It is within walking distance of Gion and the temples of Souther Higashiyama as well as public transportation. The rooms are in a modern style, spacious and comfortable with some nice touches such as rain showers and huge flat-screen TVs and fast Wifi. There is a lovely indoor Onsen (bathhouse) to enjoy after coming back from sight-seeing.
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Royal Park Hotel The Kyoto
This popular hotel is in the perfect location! Here you are right in the center surrounded by plenty of eateries and shops and with easy access to public transportation. The famous temples and Geisha areas of Ponto-cho and Gion are within walking distance. The rooms are relatively small but modern and comfortable, with private (and surprisingly spacious) bathrooms including a shower and bathtub area. The staff is great, and they also serve an excellent breakfast.
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Hotel Grand Bach Kyoto Select
A lovely hotel centrally located in the shopping district, yet with the temples and old town of Gion within easy walking distance. The rooms are small but clean, modern and comfortable. There is a free Onsen/ spa on the third floor.
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Budget

Hotel Gracery Kyoto Sanjo
A great budget hotel that offers excellent value for your money. The rooms are relatively large, modern, and spotlessly clean with beautiful decor and equipped with air-con, fridge, and free Wifi. Its location is excellent as well, almost in the middle of the Sanjo shopping lane which is a pedestrian-only zone making it nice and quiet inside the hotel.
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Hearton Hotel Kyoto
A clean no-frills budget hotel in a good location in the center of downtown Kyoto. The rooms are tiny but the beds are comfortable, and the subway station is just a minute walk away.
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Hotel Mystays Kyoto Shijo
We stayed at Hotel Mystays in Tokyo and loved it! Hotel Mystays is a business hotel chain. The rooms are not the biggest but have everything you need and more (even slippers!). The location of Mystays Kyoto is close to Maruyama Park and many shrines, and very close to a subway station (300 m) and bus stop. There is a good selection of restaurants nearby, and there is a supermarket next to the hotel. It is a quiet hotel, and all rooms have good wifi. There is a laundry room with washing machines and a dryer, as well as a coffee machine in the lobby that can be used free of charge.
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2. Gion & Southern Higashiyama

Gion and Southern Higashiyama area map
Southern Higashiyama area map – Click here for a larger version

“The narrow alleyway lined with old Machiya houses is lit by the warm glow of lanterns this evening, much as it has been for hundreds of years. Inside a nearby house, behind thin softly lit paper covered windows,  I can just make out the silhouettes of girls in their Kimonos dresses pouring tea in a traditional tea ceremony.

I am standing in Gion, Japans most famous Geisha district in the heart of Kyoto city. Here time has seemingly stood still and for a fleeting moment, modern day life seems like a distant dream.”

Gion is arguably Japan’s most famous Geisha district, and it offers a fascinating glimpse into Japan’s past. Here you can still meet a Geiko girl and her Maiko understudy in their beautiful traditional Kimonos, as they make their way to entertain their guests. The architecture is among the best-preserved examples of the time to be found anywhere in Japan.

Girls wearing Kimonos in Gion

A little further west towards the mountains lies the Southern Higashiyama temples, Kyoto’s most famous attractions. The area is brimming with colorful temples, shrines, parks, and Zen gardens.

Kiyomizu-dera Temple - Kyoto's most famous landmark
Kiyomizu-dera Temple – Probably Kyoto’s most famous landmark

Why Stay In Southern Higashiyama?

By staying in the Southern Higashiyama area you are right in the heart of the most beautiful ancient temples and shrines that Japan has to offer.

The streets Ninen-zaka and Sannen-zaka are packed with cozy traditional tea houses, shops, and restaurants.

Gion (northwest of Southern Higashiyama) is the oldest Geisha district in Kyoto. The streets here are lined with beautiful old wooden shops, restaurants, and tea houses.

What’s The Catch?

It gets crowded so expect to walk the streets and temples together with many other tourists from both Japan and the rest of the world. Accommodation prices here tend to be high, and there are few budget options.

Things To Do In Southern Higashiyama

  • Kiyomizu-dera Temple
    Kyoto’s most famous temple and a well-known landmark from a thousand photographs and postcards. The view of the city from here is breathtaking.
  • Kennen-ji temple
    This is the oldest Zen temple in Kyoto, and it also has a spectacular garden.
  • Ishibei-koji Lane
    The most beautiful lane in Kyoto with its small traditional wooden houses and shops. Here it is easy to lose yourself in old Japan.
  • Other notable temples and shrines like the Shoren-in Temple, Chion-in Temple, Yasaka-jinja Shrine, and Kodai-ji Temple.
  • Gion
    This district is arguably Japan’s most famous Geisha district.
  • Try the Kyo-ryori (Kyoto cuisine)
    Gion is an excellent place to try Kyoto’s traditional refined cuisine.
  • Attend a tea ceremony
    Gion is an excellent place to try a traditional Japanese tea ceremony.
  • Kyoto National Museum
    Kyoto’s main museum often houses special exhibitions that are well worth a visit.

Where To Stay In Southern Higashiyama

Top End

Gion Hatanaka
A high-end Ryokan a short stroll away from the historic Gion district that is very popular among foreign visitors. So if you are a bit nervous about your first Ryokan experience then this is an excellent choice. The rooms are large, with beautiful Japanese-style decor as well as a seating area and balcony. All rooms have a private bathroom that has a traditional Japanese soaking tub. The staff speaks good English, and the service is impeccable. The Onsen (Japanese hot spring bath) is lovely. Breakfast and dinner are included in the price. They serve a wide range of options, all with English menus, and they are delicious and beautifully presented.
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Four Seasons Kyoto
The new Four Seasons Kyoto really lives up to its reputation as one of the finest luxury hotels in Kyoto. The rooms are large and exquisitely furnished with every comfort. If you need a bit of a break from exploring Kyoto, there is a beautiful Japanese pond garden, tea house, and Onsen (Japanese hot spring bath) at the hotel. The hotel also has a large swimming pool, a very well-equipped fitness center, and a spa. You can choose from several restaurants at the hotel, all of a very high standard. It’s the perfect location from which to explore Gion, and famous sights such as Kiyomizu Temple are also within walking distance.
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Mid Range

Hana-Touro Hotel Gion
This new boutique hotel, located in a fantastic location about a block away from the heart of Gion, beautifully mixes the traditional with the modern. The rooms are large (for Kyoto) and furnished with comfortable beds and all amenities such as free WiFi and a flat-screen TV. The attention to detail is evident everywhere in the room from the lovely bathrooms with traditional bathtubs made of cedarwood, to the Japanese art books and Nespresso machine. The staff are super friendly and provide a real five-star service. The hotel’s restaurant is also excellent. Highly recommended!
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Hotel Sunline Kyoto Gion Shijo
This Gion Hotel is in an excellent location with both the old city and the temples within easy walking distance. There is also a nearby bus and subway station. The rooms are a bit sparse but clean and well equipped with free Wifi, flat-screen tv, fridge, and a large private bathroom. They serve an excellent breakfast buffet with both Japanese and western dishes on offer.
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Kyoto Hana Hotel
A new hotel with a very modern, light, and airy feel. The rooms are spacious with comfortable beds and have everything you need. The staff are kind and helpful and speak English well. The location is excellent too, close to the Sanjo subway station and within walking distance of many shops and temples.
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Budget

Laon Inn Gion Shinmonzen
More of a flat rental than a hotel this fresh new place provides excellent value for money. The rooms/ apartments are spacious, spotlessly clean, and well equipped with a sofa for sitting, air-con, flat-screen TV, and free WiFi. There is a kitchenette with a fridge, microwave oven (but strangely few utensils), and a washing machine. There is no daily housekeeping. It’s close to the main street of Gion and close to the bus stop and about a 15 minutes walk away from the nearest subway.
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3. Kyoto Station / Shimogyo

Kyoto station area map
Kyoto Station area map – Click here for a larger version

Kyoto Station is one of the largest railway stations in Japan. In a city famous for its well-preserved historic buildings the railway station shows modern Japanese architecture at its best. It is well worth exploring the station in its own right. There is a great view of Kyoto from the rooftop terrace on the 15th floor.

Kyoto Station
Kyoto Station

This is a very popular area for visitors to stay in and there are plenty of good accommodation options around here.

Why Stay Around Kyoto Station?

The best reason to stay here is the convenient transportation. Kyoto station is the main transportation hub for Kyoto city and staying in this area gives you easy access to the entire city as well as day trips to surrounding sights such as Nara, Himeji Castle, Osaka, or the spectacular Fushimi Inari shrine. To get around Kyoto use the buses stop right in front of the station or the Subway.

There is also plenty of restaurants, shopping malls, and even a cinema complex inside the station. The area around the station is packed with small shops and eateries. Unlike many European railway station areas, this is a safe area to stay in.

What’s the catch?

There are not a lot of sights in this area, except for the Kyoto Station building itself, so you need to take transportation to explore most of the main sights of Kyoto.

Things To Do Around Kyoto Station

  • Higashi Hongan-ji Temple – One of the few temples within walking distance in this area. Still, it is a very impressive one.
  • Kyoto Station – the station itself with its modern architecture, hundreds of shops, restaurants is well worth exploring.

Where To Stay Around Kyoto station

Top End

Hotel Kanra Kyoto
This luxury hotel mixes the best of Japanese design with a Western-style boutique hotel. The result is a truly beautifully designed hotel that is an experience in its right. Rooms are in a modern Japanese style, large and extremely comfortable with flat-screen TV, fridge, and excellent Wifi. The staff is exceptional and will bend over backward to provide you with the very best personal service. Its location is in a quiet part of town, but you can walk to Kyoto station in about 15 minutes or use one of the complimentary bikes available to explore the area.
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Hotel Granvia Kyoto
This hotel is located within the Kyoto Train station! But don’t let that scare you because it’s a great hotel and it’s hard to beat the convenience of stepping off the train and right into your hotel after a long journey. The rooms are quite spacious with super comfortable beds, free wifi, and flat-screen TV. There are plenty of good restaurants nearby. They even have a large indoor swimming pool and gym, although they rather stupidly charge extra for the use.
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Mid Range

DSC03664Century Hotel Kyoto
We stayed at this hotel for a week, and it was awesome! The best hotel we stayed at throughout our whole Japan trip! Big beautiful and modern rooms, huge comfortable bed, great service from the staff and excellent location just next to Kyoto Train Station (100 m). Excellent fast wifi too. You will love this hotel!
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Daiwa Roynet Hotel Kyoto Ekimae

A mid-range hotel a few minutes from Kyoto Station that ticks all the right boxes. It’s clean, neat and although the rooms are small, they are comfortable and well equipped. The bathrooms are very nice and surprisingly have both a shower and bathtub. The coin-operated laundry machines are super convenient. Breakfast is a little basic, but there are plenty of good eateries around the hotel.
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Hokkaikan Ohanabo
Ryokans (a traditional Japanese Inn) can be extremely expensive, but this beautiful traditional Ryokan is quite affordable. It is run by some seriously charming Japanese ladies that will take excellent care of you. Try the traditional five-course Kaiseki Japanese dinner, it is quite the experience and well worth the price. Soaking in the Onsen (hot public bath) after a day of sight-seeing is fantastic. You can walk to Kyoto station in about five minutes.
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Budget

Karatachi Nanajo Ainomachi – Guest House In Kyoto
This guesthouse is located in a quiet neighborhood about 500 meters away from Kyoto station. The rooms are spacious and clean with comfortable beds and private bathrooms. There is free Wifi, a small kitchenette as well as a washing machine. The rooms are self-service and are only cleaned between guest stays.
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4. Central Kyoto

Central Kyoto area map
Central Kyoto area map – Click here for a larger version

Covering a large area in the center of Kyoto, this district is a mix of both old and new. It has some beautiful sights such as the Kyoto Imperial Garden and the Nijo Castle but its modern day life that for the most part dominates this area with convenience stores and office buildings.

Kyoto Central

Why Stay In Central Kyoto?

While not among the most popular areas to stay in, you can still find some excellent hotels here that are not too far away from a subway stop. You will also have no trouble finding places to eat. The area is quite flat and can easily be explored on foot or by bike.

What’s The Catch?

There are a few popular sights in this area such as the Kyoto Imperial Palace and the Nijo-ji Castle, but you will still need to use public transportation to explore Kyoto’s most famous sights like the Higashiyama area.

Things To Do In Central Kyoto

  • Nijo Castle
    An impressive castle with huge surrounding walls built by the Shogun warlords during the Edo period. The gardens surrounding it are also beautiful and are lit at night. Get here early in the morning to avoid the crowds.
  • Kyoto Imperial Palace Park
    It’s mainly the park around the Imperial Palace that is impressive and not so much the Palace itself. Go for a walk or bring some food and have a nice picnic. It is at its most beautiful during cherry blossom season (late March).
  • Daitoku-ji
    If you have an interest in Japanese gardens then this collection of 24 temples and several beautiful small gardens are a lovely way to spend some time.

Where To Stay In Central Kyoto

Mid Range

Noku Kyoto
The Noku Kyoto is an excellent boutique hotel located at the southwest corner of the Imperial Park and less than a minute away from the Marutamachi Subway Station. Every room is spacious (by Japanese standards), clean, comfortable, and well equipped with a flat-screen TV, air-con, free wifi, and a fridge, along with large private bathrooms. You can walk to the Imperial Palace as well as the Nijo castle in less than 10 minutes.
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ANA Crowne Plaza Hotel Kyoto
A popular mid-range hotel located right across from the Nijo castle. It’s an elegant hotel with a spectacular lobby and excellent service. The rooms are getting a little dated but are large, comfortable and clean. The breakfast buffet is very good. The hotel provides a free shuttle bus service to Kyoto station every 15 minutes, but it is also easy to walk to the nearby Nijojo-Mae Metro Station. It’s one of the very few hotels in Kyoto with an indoor swimming pool!
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5. Northern Higashiyama

Northern Higashiyama area map
Northern Higashiyama area map – Click here for a larger version

The Northern Higashiyama district has just as many stunning old temples, shrines, and Japanese Zen gardens as its Southern Higashiyama neighbor, and yet the crowds are mostly absent. Here you can easily find yourself almost alone exploring some of these ancient masterpieces.

Nanzen-ji Temple
Nanzen-ji Temple

The main sightseeing area stretches from the Ginkaku-ji temple, also knows as The Silver Pavillion, in the north to the Nanzen-ji temple in the south. Linking them together is the famous walking route referred to as the Path of Philosophy.

Why Stay In Northern Higashiyama?

It’s a beautiful and relatively quiet part of town. While there aren’t that many options for accommodation in Northern Higashiyama, there are some nice Ryokans (traditional Japanese Inns) in this area.

What’s the catch?

Your choice of restaurants and evening entertainment will be a bit limited. You’re not very far from downtown though, and a quick bus trip or even a bike can easily get you there.

Things To Do In Northern Higashiyama

  • Ginkaku-ji Temple
    Known as the Silver Pavilion, the temple did not get its name from being covered in silver but rather to contrast it from the Golden Pavilion temple. It’s lovely going for a walk here among the half a dozen temple buildings, a moss garden, and the rather uniquely dry sand garden.
  • Visit other amazing temples and shrines like the Nanzen-ji Temple and the often overlooked Honen-in Temple
  • The Path of Philosophy/ Tetsugaku-no-Michi Street
    A pedestrian path that goes along a canal beautifully lined with cherry trees and flowers. The name comes from the 20th-century philosopher Nishida Kitaro who used to wander this street lost in thoughts. The walk takes about 30 minutes.
  • Kyoto’s museum district (Okazaki-koen)
    Here you can explore several excellent museums dedicated to Japanese art, such as the Kyoto Municipal Museum of Art and the National Museum of Modern Art.
  • Heian Shrine
    Perhaps the most impressive Shinto Shrine in Kyoto with a 25 meter high Tori gate. The garden and pond are lovely during the cherry blossom season.

Where To Stay In Northern Higashiyama

Top End

Ryokan Inn Yoshida-sanso
Once upon a time a royal residence, this historic Ryokan is a beautiful place to have your traditional Japanese Inn experience. Located in a secluded area of Kyoto with lovely views of the mountains to the east of the city you can escape the hustle and bustle of Downtown here. The traditional multi-course Japanese dinner is a must-try experience. The rooms have a classic style with Futon mats to sleep on and shared bathrooms. Wifi is available throughout the Ryokan. It’s a family-run ryokan, and the staff is super friendly and speaks good English.
Click here for latest prices

6. Arashiyama

Arashiyama area map
Arashiyama area map – Click here for a larger version

Located at the foot of Kyoto’s western mountain chain, it is often considered to be Kyoto’s number two sightseeing district after the Higashiyama area. It is a gorgeous area, with green hills and majestic mountains in the background. The area is especially popular during the cherry blossom season (March – April).

Bamboo Forest
Maria walking through the Arashiyama Bamboo Forest

The main draws here are the Tenryu-ji Temple and The Bamboo Forrest.

Why Stay In Arashiyama?

Staying in the Arashiyama area, you are close to some truly stunning nature. And as long as you avoid the almost theme park-like main streets, it is a tranquil rural area that is especially enjoyable to explore on a bicycle.

Although it is not a very popular area to stay in for foreigners, it does have some beautiful Ryokans.

What’s The Catch?

Arashiyama area is quite far away from the center of Kyoto (roughly a 30 min drive). The main street and the Togetsu-kyo Bridge are busy with tourists from early morning until late evening.

Things To Do in Arashiyama

  • Bamboo Forest (Sagano Bamboo Forest)
    A beautiful bamboo forest grove that is an absolute must experience in Kyoto.
  • Hozugawa River Boat Ride
    The 2-hour Hozugawa River Cruise starts in Kameoka in west Kyoto, 30 km west of Kyoto Station. The wooden riverboat will take you to through the scenic Hozu-kyo Ravine and to the Arashiyama area of Kyoto.

  • Tenryu-ji Temple and Garden
    In proximity to the Bamboo Forest, the Tenryu-ji temples is ranked among the top five Zen temples in Kyoto.
  • Okochi Sanso Villa
    The home of the famous samurai actor Okochi Denjiro. The villa is surrounded by a beautiful Zen garden.
  • Monkey Park Iwatayama
    Over 200 Japanese monkeys live in this park, of all sizes and ages.

Where To Stay In Arashiyama

Top End

Arashiyama Benkei
Arguably the finest traditional Ryokan in Arashihama, it is located in a great location close to the main tourist district, yet the area is quiet with lovely views of the river. Their traditional Kansei meals (traditional Japanese dinner and breakfast) are excellent. The hotel also has a beautiful Japanese garden and a hot spring bath. You can walk to both to the center and The Bamboo forest in less than 15 minutes. The staff is the very model of Japanese politeness and service.
Click here for latest prices

Mid Range

Japaning Hotel Liv Ranrokaku
This is a Ryokan-style Inn but with some modern twists that cater towards foreign guests with western-style beds in spacious, comfortable rooms. There is an outdoor Onsen (hot spring bath). The staff is very welcoming and will go out of their way to help you although their English is a little limited. It’s tucked away from the busy Arashiyama center with a lovely view of the river. The Kyoto Bamboo forest and the Monkey Park are both within easy walking distance. Be aware that they do not serve food.
Click here for latest prices


It’s been a lot of work creating this guide, and we are happy to finally share our favorite hotels and areas to stay in Kyoto with you. Hopefully, you now know a little more about Kyoto’s many areas, and it has become a little easier for you to decide where to stay in Kyoto.

Also, if you want some inspiration for what to do in Kyoto then be sure to read our 3 Day Kyoto Itinerary.

We will be constantly adding accommodations to this guide and keeping it updated, so please let us know if you have any tips for hotels we should check out!

Check out our recommended 2-week Japan itinerary to see what else you should not miss when going to Japan.

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Have you been to Kyoto? What is your favorite area to stay in and why? Please don`t hesitate to leave us a comment in the comment area below, we love comments! If you find this article useful, please help us out and share it on social media. Thanks! 🙂 

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Written by Espen Egeland

Espen, a Norwegian born travel nerd, got his start as an independent traveler at age 19, when he packed his backpack and bought a one-way ticket to Indonesia in search of adventure. Since then he has explored more than thirty countries across six continents. He holds a master's degree in computer science, but his true passion is photography, filmmaking and sharing his love of travel. In 2014, while on a year-long trip across South - East Asia, he co-founded the travel blog Nerd Nomads and since then he's been a full-time traveler. See our about page for more about Espen.

33 Comments

  1. I stayed at Kyoto Hana Hotel for 4 nights during my first-time visit to the wonderful city of Kyoto. The location of the hotel is perfect for exploring Higashiyama and Gion and the city center with its shopping arcades is in walking distance. The Sanjo train, bus and subway station is right around the corner and connects you with more remote attractions such as the Arashiyama bamboo forest or the Fushimi-inari shrine. My room was perfectly clean and neat and there were supplies of high-quality shampoos, lotions, hand and face wash etc. They also provided a pyjamas, tea, slippers, towels and bath salt for free. Staff was extremely polite, welcoming and helpful for example in finding a coin laundry or recommending restaurants nearby. Everything was quiet at night so you could get rest after long days of sightseeing. The price is absolutely justified given the comfort they offer. I definitely recommend the place and would stay there again.

    Reply
    • Thank you so much for this hotel tip! We will for sure check it out on our next visit to Kyoto!

      Happy travels! 🙂

      -Maria-

      Reply
  2. Wow, you covered a lot of information here. I’ll have to bookmark this for when I head there in the near future!

    Reply
    • Hi Eric,

      Thank you so much! Glad you like our article and found it useful. You should definitely visit Kyoto one day, it is an amazing city!

      Happy travels! 🙂

      -Maria-

      Reply
  3. Wow what an amazing post! I haven’t made it to Japan yet, but am planning on going early next year. Will definitely be coming back to this post for more details. Thanks for sharing

    Reply
    • Kyoto downtown is a great area to stay in. Very easy to get around the city.

      Happy travels, Muhemmed!

      -Maria-

      Reply
  4. Although I’m not planning to go to Japan in the nearest future, it’s definitely on my list so I will come back and check your post again, thanks for all these great tips!

    Reply
    • Hi Karolina,

      Thanks! Japan is an amazing country, especially for us “nerds”. 🙂 Tokyo feels like stepping into the future with all its craziness and technology. Kyoto is also a real must when visiting Japan.

      Happy travels!

      -Maria-

      Reply
  5. First of all I really thank you for sharing such amazing and useful photos.I will keep in my mind your advices while Im going there.I like Lonely Planet’s Travel Guides also.Kyoto is the place where I want to go first.

    Reply
    • Thank you so much, Balayi! Kyoto is one of the highlights of Japan, and a place that you definitely should visit if you are heading to Japan.

      Happy travels! 🙂

      -Maria-

      Reply
    • Hi Joey,

      Yeah, Kyoto is great, both when it comes to hotels and sights! So much to see and do in this stunning city.

      Happy travels! 🙂

      -Maria-

      Reply
  6. Starting to plan my October trip and this guide has been super helpful — thank you! Could you share the location of the top photo with the title of the post?

    Reply
    • Hi Margo,

      Thank you so much! Glad this could be of help to you when planning your Kyoto trip!

      The top photo is from the Gion area of Kyoto. It is a really nice and atmospheric area packed with old wooden buildings and if you are lucky you can even get a glimpse of a real Geisha!

      Gion is number 4 on day 3 on our recommended Kyoto itinerary: https://nerdnomads.com/kyoto-itinerary

      Have a great trip to Kyoto and Japan in October!

      -Maria-

      Reply
  7. Japan is absolutely amazing! It is one of all-time favourite countries and Kyoto has been so nice to me! 🙂
    Their culture is so interesting and since I’ve studied Japanese by my own, I’ve always wanted to visit Japan and spend time indulging in their amazing way of life.
    This travel guide is so useful, thank you so much!

    Reply
    • Thank you so much, Phoenix! I agree, Japan is amazing! I just keep wanting to come back over and over again. So cool that you have studied Japanese! It seems like a very difficult language to learn.

      Happy travels!

      -Maria-

      Reply
  8. Thank you so much for such a wonderful & comprehensive guide! This is exactly what I was looking for when planning my visit to Kyoto. Thanks so much!

    Reply
    • Hi Max,

      Thanks a million! Kyoto is such a nice city with plenty to see and do. You will love it!

      Have a great time in Kyoto!! 🙂

      -Maria-

      Reply
  9. I need a guidance on some service apartments for a family of 3 adults near Kyoto station area, preferably with a kitchenette. Any suggestions?

    Reply
    • Hi Saneep,

      On TripAdvisor.com you can limit your hotel search to Kitchenette and Near Kyoto Station.

      Another option for you could be to check out Airbnb.com.

      Good luck with finding the right accommodation! Have a great time in Kyoto!

      -Maria-

      Reply
  10. Love this guide and can’t wait to use it in April- Not sure where Im staying yet, have Solaria, Rhyga and Century booked.any suggestions…… We are from US and will be using their trains and such without a tour guide….

    Reply
    • Hi Lee,

      Thanks a million! So cool that you are visiting Kyoto in April! You will love this beautiful city! It is full of charm and there is plenty to see and do.

      Both the Solaria Hotel and the Century Hotel which you have booked are excellent hotels! They are both new hotels and have big comfortable rooms. Both hotels are close to the train and public transport. You will not go wrong if you stay at one of these hotels.

      We stayed a week at the Century Hotel and loved it! It is right next to Kyoto Train Station so it is very convenient and easy to get around Kyoto and out of the city for day-trips.

      Have a great trip to Kyoto in April!

      -Maria-

      Reply
  11. We have an upcoming Kyoto tour in September and I really enjoyed reading your experience! Very helpful! Since it’s going to be our first time, we’re hoping to get some more help though. We’ll be arriving in Chubu Airport, Nagoya around 9 evening and we’re planning to book our accommodation in Kyoto since most of our target destinations are there. Do you have any best recommendation as to how to get there from the airport? Any advice could help, thanks.

    Reply
    • Hi Ishta,

      Thank you so much! Great to hear that you are visiting Kyoto in September! You will love Kyoto, it is an amazing city with so much to see and do.

      The best way to find out how to get from one place to another in Japan is actually Google Maps. It is brilliant and has all the trains and train schedules (departure and arriving times) which makes it super easy to plan your Japan trip.

      It takes 1 hour and 40 minutes to get from Chubu Airport to Kyoto Station in the center of Kyoto. You must take the train from Chubu Airport to Nagoya Station first, and then change train and take another train from Nagoya Station to Kyoto Station.

      There are several train options/ combinations from Chubu Airport to Kyoto Station depending on what time you arrive at Chubu Airport. You can add your date and time here (Google Maps), and see what is the best train options for you. Just press the small arrow next to “Options”. Now it says “Leave now”, but you can change it to “Depart at” and enter your arriving date and time at Chubu Airport.

      Have a fantastic trip to Kyoto in September!

      -Maria-

      Reply
  12. Thank you for all your wonderful tips! We are looking forward to our trip this November and your site is truly helpful.
    Arigato gozaimashita

    Reply
    • Do Itashimashite! 🙂 Thank you so much for commenting! Have a fantastic trip to Japan in November!

      Cheers,
      Maria

      Reply
  13. Thank you so much for sharing your experience and suggestions. I am getting ready to take my daughter on her graduation trip in April to Japan. Before reading your tips, I had no idea how to make the best out of our journey. With just her and I traveling, the pressure is on to have the best possible trip planned! Your guidance help get me going! Thank you a ton!

    Reply
    • Hi Abby,

      Thank you so much for your comment and nice words about our blog!!! Really appreciate it, you made my day!!!

      Have a fantastic trip to Japan in April with your daughter! It sounds like the best graduation trip ever!

      -Maria-

      Reply
  14. Hi Maria,

    This guide is amazing, I’ll be using for my upcoming trip. I’m so glad I came across your blog, I was doing some planning and Google maps shows the Arashiyama Bamboo Grove and Fushimi Inari shrine are pretty close to the Kyoto train station but your blog says otherwise and it looks like I’ll be doing additional research. Thanks again for the informative post.

    Reply
    • Hi Katherine,

      Thank you so much!!

      From Kyoto Train Station to Saga-Arashiyama Station (a 15 min walk from Arashiyama Bamboo Grove) it takes about 20 min by train (7 stops on the San-In Line). It takes about 2 hours and 15 min to walk there from Kyoto Station.

      From Kyoto Train Station to Fushimi-Inari Station (close to the Fushimi Inari Shrine) it takes about 6 min by train (2 stops on the JR Nara Line). You can walk from Kyoto Station to Fushimi-Inari in about 30-40 min.

      I recommend that you take the train and subway as much as possible to save your legs and energy, as you will be walking a lot once you get to these sites/ places. 🙂

      Check out our recommended Kyoto Itinerary for tips on waking routes and what to see and do in this amazing city.

      Have a fantastic trip to Japan and Kyoto!

      -Maria-

      Reply

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