Kyoto oozes cultural charm and there’s no better place to indulge at a traditional ryokan than in this historic city. With therapeutic hot spring onsen and kaiseki haute cuisine, they offer a quintessentially Japanese way to relax and rejuvenate.
While many of Kyoto’s most outstanding ryokan are quite expensive, they are a luxurious, once-in-a-lifetime experience and definitely worth the price tag.
Tawaraya is often touted as one of the best ryokans in Japan, with celebrities and political leaders from across the world having stayed here. Each of its rooms is beautifully decorated following the wabi-sabi aesthetic of simplicity, with private gardens where you can while away the hours in contemplation.
There is an unsurpassed attention to detail at Tawaraya, not only in the ryokan’s presentation but also the service from its outstanding staff. Its understated luxury is combined with authentic kaiseki cuisine which offers a culturally enriching experience for refined tastes.
Address: Fuyacho Oike sagaru, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto
Price: Starting at 42,000 JPY per person
Hoshinoya combines the ambiance of a traditional ryokan with modern Japanese touches and is surrounded by lush greenery overlooking the Oigawa River. A private boat will transport you to this magical escape which feels a world away from the bustle of downtown Kyoto.
Hoshinoya is situated within a 100-year-old residence which has been lovingly restored, with interior furnishings and artwork by local Kyoto artisans. The guest rooms are surrounded by two Japanese gardens with a tranquil pond and waterfall and complemented by cuisine which brings a modern twist to traditional kaiseki banquets.
Non-guests may also dine at Hoshinoya (except from lateMarch to early May, August and November), with seasonal dinner menus from 20,000 JPY.
Address: 11-2 Arashiyama Genrokuzan-cho, Nishikyo-ku, Kyoto
Price: Starting at 48,000 JPY per person
Situated on the atmospheric, pedestrian-only laneway of Ishibei-koji, Tamahan provides beautiful accommodation in a hidden corner of Higashiyama. Its spacious rooms are designed around a peaceful Japanese garden which provides a tranquil escape from the world outside.
There are ten air-conditioned rooms to select from, each of which has been furnished with a wooden Japanese bathtub for guests to soak in. Exquisite kaiseki meals are served in the comfort of your own room and feature seasonally available ingredients.
Address: 477 Shimokawara-cho, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto
Price: Starting at 26,500 JPY per person
Nestled right in the heart of Kyoto’s bustling downtown area is the affordable Hirashin Ryokan. Although it’s set within a modern building, the rooms have been designed in a traditional ryokan style, with futons laid out on tatami mats and a minimalist aesthetic.
For those wanting a traditional ryokan experience without the expensive price tag, Hirashin is one of the best choices. It’s within close proximity to Kyoto’s shopping and nightlife districts, as well as being just moments away from Shijo Station.
Hirashin Ryokan is also open for non-guests during lunch and dinner, with maiko experiences (from 7,500 JPY) where you will be served by these traditional dancers as they train to become geikos and learn about their unique culture.
Address: Takoyakushi-dori, Takakura-Nishi, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto.
Price: Starting at 5,775 JPY per person
Boasting magnificent views towards Mount Arashiyama, this luxurious ryokan is situated on the banks of the Oigawa River. Its onsen waters are sourced from the Arashiyama hot springs and it’s located within close proximity to a number of shrines and temples.
Their ten guest rooms are beautifully appointed in traditional Japanese style, overlooking the gardens or towards the mountain. This peaceful setting is complemented by outstanding kaiseki multi-course fare and omotenashi hospitality from their highly-trained staff.
Address: 34 Sagatenryuji Susukinobaba-cho, Ukyo-ku, Kyoto.
Price: Starting at 18,975 JPY per person
Sumiya Ryokan is renowned as Kyoto’s only ryokan to be built in a sukiya-zukuri (tea ceremony house) style. Some of the traditional rooms and suites come with private onsen baths and terraces, while there is also a western style room with an onsen jacuzzi.
Their kaiseki fare showcases seasonal ingredients from around Kyoto, including Tanba beef in spring, freshwater fish in summer, and Kyo-vegetables (used in Kyoto’s local cuisine). Tea ceremonies are conducted on the 7th and 17th of each month, offering a quintessential Japanese cultural experience.
Address: Fuyacho Sanjo-sagaru, Nishikyo-ku, Kyoto.
Price: Starting from 35,000 JPY per person