Introduce the best ryokans in Kyoto that I can confidently recommend.
There are various hotels in Kyoto, but if you come all the way to Kyoto, you should stay at a Kyoto-style ryokan at least once. I’ve visited several ryokans on business because I work in tourism in Kyoto. Following my visit to the Kyoto ryokan, I will introduce eight ryokans in Kyoto that I can confidently recommend.
Reasons to recommend ryokans in Kyoto
Japanese traditions and culture
A distilled version of Japanese tradition and culture can be found at ryokans in Kyoto. You can enjoy the Japanese atmosphere.
From 794 to 1868, Kyoto served as the official capital of Japan. Kyoto is still one of Japan’s leading tourist destinations and is home to numerous temples, shrines, and other historic buildings.
Kyoto is also the birthplace of Japanese culture, and it is no exaggeration to say that the culture of Japan has been forged from the culture of Kyoto.
Kyoto had served as the capital since Heian-Kyo and was also known as Kyo no Miyako. Either of the two Chinese characters that make up Kyoto means “Capital”, and Tokyo garnered its name from its meaning, Eastern Capital.
Ryokans in Kyoto are ideal for exploring Japanese customs and culture.
Although in the present day it is easy to obtain fresh seafood, this was not always the case in the former capital. Kyoto, situated quite a distance from the nearest coastal waters and surrounded on three sides by mountains, was known for its cuisine consisting primarily of locally grown vegetables and freshwater fish.
Kyoto cuisine is steeped in history and incorporates elements of Daikyo cuisine, food served to the nobles of the imperial court; Honzen cuisine, food of the Samurai; Shojin cuisine, vegetarian cuisine served to Buddhist monks; Kaiseki Ryori, traditional course meals that arose together with the tea ceremony and Obanzai, food of the common people.
Kyoto cuisine skillfully paints a picture of the four seasons. Only the freshest, seasonal ingredients are used, and they are beautifully arranged to create a delicate harmony with the tableware. It is not only a treat for the taste buds but an expression of the seasons to be experienced by all five senses in the delicate aromas, tableware, and stunning arrangement.
The statement that Kyoto cuisine, which has evolved over more than 1200 years, is the basis of Japanese cuisine is not hyperbole.
Enjoy Kyoto cuisine cooked with the season’s freshest ingredients at ryokans in Kyoto.
Washitsu (Japanise style-room)
You take off your shoes and unwind in a tatami room like you would in a traditional Japanese home. Experience a form of accommodation quite unlike that of a typical Western hotel. Every room is elegantly furnished in the Japanese style.
Calligraphy, paintings, and flower arrangements are displayed in the living room alcove. You spread out a futon to sleep on it at night. You can use the space more broadly because the futon is stored during the day.
Experience a taste of Japanese tradition at ryokans in Kyoto, and then relax in a soothing Japanese bath.
How to take a Japanese bath
Another enjoyable experience at ryokans in Kyoto is bathing in the ryokan’s traditional Japanese bath.
First, rinse your body with hot water. Washing beforehand helps keep the water in the bath tub clean. The rinsing and washing of your body with hot water also acclimatizes you to the temperature of the bath tub, which can be very hot. It is not advisable to jump into the water, like diving into a swimming pool.
Please do not put the hand towel into the bath tub water. Most people place the towel on their head. And remember, do not use any soap, shampoo, or other skin cleansers in the bath tub either.
Yuno Yado Shoei
Kyoto Ryokan Shoei won the Tripadvisor Travelers’ Choice Best of the Best in 2021 and 2022.
This award is the highest recognition and is presented annually to those businesses that are the Best of the Best on Tripadvisor, those that earn excellent reviews from travelers, and those that are ranked in the top 1% of properties worldwide.
See Top 25 B&Bs and Inns — Japan (Shoei ranked 11th in Japan)
Kyoto Ryokan Shoei is located near the Umekoji-Kyotonishi station, which is one train stop from Kyoto Station. It takes eight minutes to walk from there to Kyoto Ryokan Shoei.
Kyoto Station is a 20-minute walk away. Several temples, including the Toji Temple, are reachable on foot. It is easy to catch a bus nearby.
The traditional Japanese-style room is clean and well maintained.
Outdoor bathtubs, public baths (men’s and women’s rotate daily), and a sauna are available. After a long day of temples, shrines, and more sightseeing, the relaxing baths are unrivaled.
Kyoto Ryokan Shoei serves Kyo-Kaiseki for dinner. Kyo-Kaiseki is a set of high-quality Japanese dishes. Miso soup, fish, tofu, eggs, and other traditional Japanese fare are served during breakfast.
128 Nishishinyashiki Kaminocho, Shimogyo-ku, Kyoto, Kyoto, 600-8826
Kyoto Ryokan Ryokufuso won the Tripadvisor Travelers’ Choice Best of the Best 2021.
Making everyone smile is Ryokufuso’s guiding ideology. This welcoming “Ryokan” (Japanese Inn) is full of visitors and locals having a wonderful time.
Kyoto Ryoan Ryokufuso is located around 15 minutes on foot north of Kyoto Station. Provide cozy Japanese-style guest rooms. Kyoto Ryokan Shoei serves Kyo-Kaiseki for dinner. Fresh, regional ingredients are used to prepare everything.
490 Kanaya-chou, Shimogyou-ku, Kyoto, Kyoto, 600-8323
Aoi Hotel Kyoto
The Aoi Hotel Kyoto is a good choice, even though it’s not a ryokan.
The Aoi Hotel Kyoto is located in Central Kyoto, a walkable neighborhood with fantastic shopping and close to a train station. Cultural highlights in Kyoto include Gion Shirakawa Area and MINAMIZA Theatre.
Six distinctive guest rooms with a view of the Kamo River and Kyoto’s four seasons.
146 Tenno-Cho Shimogyo-Ku, Kiyamachidori, Bukkoji Agaru, Kyoto, Kyoto, 600-8013
Seikoro was founded in 1831. Its name refers to “a splendid building on the banks of the Kamo River on a sunny day.”
Seikoro Ryokan is located in Higashiyama Ward, a neighborhood in Kyoto, and is near a metro station and the Kamo River. Sanjusangendo is reachable on foot. The Kiyomizu-dera Temple is also accessible on foot.
Depending on the level of attention to detail in the construction and furnishings of the Japanese-style rooms at Seikoro, each one has its own feel.
Dinner is Kyo-Kaiseki, which features seasonal ingredients. Seikoro’s Kyo-Kaiseki, which emphasizes the flavor and composition of soup stock with a Kyoto-like flavor without going overboard with beauty and skill.
467 Nishitachibana-cho, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto, Kyoto, 605-0907Kyoto Ohara Ryokan Seryo
Japanese Ryokan Seryo
The Japanese Ryokan Seryo, located in the luscious natural setting of Kyoto City’s northern Ohara region, offers Ohara Onsen.
Japanese Ryokan Seryo has both indoor and outdoor baths. The spring quality contains a lot of sodium ions and bicarbonate ions, which have the effect of making your skin smooth.
There are Western, Japanese-Western, and Japanese-style rooms available. Every room has a garden view.
You can enjoy a meal that focuses on veggies, such as Kyoto vegetables, vegetables from your own garden, wild vegetables, and Kyoto sake.
22 Ohara Shorincho, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto, Kyoto, 601-1241
Nanzenji sando KIKUSUI
Nearly 130 years after its original construction in 1895, Ryu Kosaka, a renowned architect, refurbished the Kikusui, which welcomed Chef Matsuo of the renowned Michelin 3-star restaurant Kashiwaya as the director of cuisine. The Kikusui celebrated its grand reopening in June 2018.
Kikusui is located in Higashiyama Ward, about 3 minutes on foot from Nanzenji Temple.
Only five of the guest rooms are available for lodging. Exceptional Japanese and French cuisine prepared in a Japanese style is served to guests while they relax and take in the calm garden view from a private room.
31 Fukuchi-cho, Nanzenji, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto, Kyoto, 606-8435
Your stay in Kyoto will be quite pleasant thanks to their friendly hospitality and commitment to comfort.
Located in the center of Kyoto, it is close to both the Shijo-Kawaramachi shopping district and the grounds of the Imperial Palace. Their elegant, reasonably priced Japanese-style accommodations let you explore Japan in a laid-back, enjoyable way (no meal rates apply).
Gokomachi St.-Nijyo Sagaru, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto, Kyoto, 604-0933
Located in Arashiyama, near Hankyu Arashiyama Station, it is within walking distance of Tenryu-ji Temple and the bamboo grove.
You can experience Arashiyama Onsen at Kadensho, which includes both indoor and outdoor baths.
There are nine types of guest rooms. Everything makes you feel as though you are in Kyoto, from large items like furniture and bedding to minor ones like indoor clothing, tea, and incense.
The four-season kaiseki meal “Shiki Yuzen” is built around the idea of one soup and five dishes for dinner. Refills are available for “tempura” and “selectable obanzai”.
5-4 Arashiyamanishiichikawacho, Nishikyo-ku, Kyoto, Kyoto, 616-0003