Last updated on October 2nd, 2023
Best accommodation guide for where to stay in Kyoto, including useful tips to find the best hotels and areas for your best stay in Kyoto.
Located in the Kansai region, Kyoto is one of the must-visit places in Japan for many travelers. Even if you only have a few days to explore Japan, there’s no reason that you miss out on this amazing city.
Kyoto is so perfect to include on your Japan trip. It is very ideal to plan for 1, 2, 3 days, or even up to 1 week of travel itinerary. However, regardless of the many days in Kyoto, be sure to carefully plan for things to do, what to eat, and where to stay in Kyoto. This historical city has by far become one of my favorite places to visit in Japan. I am sure you will have a memorable trip to Kyoto which lasts forever.
In this article, I will share my personal experience in finding the best accommodation to stay in Kyoto. I have listed down the top three districts for you to spend on your wonderful night when visiting. Added, the different price range for budget, mid-range to luxury. There are amazing ryokan if you are looking for a unique staying experience in Japan. So let’s plan your trip.
Kyoto Hotel Tips
Kyoto is a very popular tourist destination. If you are planning a trip to this wonderful city, you might be wondering where to stay in Kyoto. Good hotels are always getting sold out fast. So we are here to help.
We recommend you read through our Kyoto hotel tips before finding your best stay in Kyoto. Are you ready? Let’s go!
Stay in Kyoto Or Osaka?
This is the same question whenever I visited Kyoto. Osaka is a central hub for exploring the Kansai region. While Kyoto is always one of the best places for authentic traditional Japanese experience.
Generally staying in Osaka is cheaper compared with staying in Kyoto. In my opinion, Osaka is a better option if you are limited in time. You can opt for visiting Kyoto for a 1-day trip. But I’d highly recommend visiting Kyoto for at least 2 days staying in Kyoto. There are so many things to do and see in Kyoto. I can easily plan for at least 3 days or 1 week of the Kyoto itinerary. Let’s read about my Kyoto itinerary for your holiday vacation.
Best Time To Visit
Finding where to stay in Kyoto probably is one of the headache questions when visiting the Kansai region. While Japan is best to visit all year long. Travelers are visiting Japan in Spring for cherry blossoms, summer for flower fields and festivals, autumn for fall foliage, and winter for the snowy experience.
The best time to visit Kyoto is during cherry blossom in spring and fall foliage in autumn. Based on the previous year’s records, the sakura is in full bloom during early April. While the maple leaf will turn red at the end of November. It is the best time to visit Japan to mesmerize its unique beauty.
If you are coming to Japan during this best time, remember to reserve your room early. During this period, accommodation in Kyoto gets booked extremely fast. Check out our travel guide if you are looking for some ideas about the best accommodation in Kyoto.
How To Get To Kyoto & Getting Around
Similar to traveling to other cities in Japan, getting to Kyoto is relatively simple once you arrived in Japan. The nearest airport is Kansai Airport where you can directly go to Kyoto by train or limousine bus. The Haruka Limited Express is the faster and most convenient if you opted for getting to Kyoto by train from Kansai Airport.
Moreover, it is also doable to get to Kyoto from Osaka, one of the nearby metropolitan cities. From Osaka to Kyoto, there are 4 different train lines running this popular route. The best route depends on where you traveling from Osaka and the next visited area in Kyoto.
While from Tokyo to Kyoto, the shinkansen is only about 160-minute for the bullet train ride. For a round journey trip, remember to get the Japan Rail Pass which greatly save on transportation fee.
Getting Around: Bus or Local Trains?
Once you are getting to Kyoto, it is possible to travel around by public bus or local train. In fact, the bus is the cheapest and most convenient transportation. But some of the attractions such as Arashiyama are best to get there by train.
Getting around Kyoto by bus is very cheap and convenient. A single journey of bus fare only costs 220 yen. You can even get the day pass for an unlimited ride at 500 yen. However, it can be very crowded, especially during peak hours. Sometimes, I try to minimize the frequency of taking the bus in Kyoto unless necessary. Instead, I prefer to visit Kyoto on foot where you can enjoy the best scenery by just walking.
While the local subway train is another option for getting around in the city. However, not all the major attractions are directly accessible by train. So you might need to take the subway to the nearest station and then walk. Compare with a bus, getting around by train is a better option. The train is more frequent and carries more passengers at one time. You will know the best part of taking a train at the time you’re taking a bus in Kyoto.
Where To Stay in Kyoto
Where you stay decide how’s your trip to Kyoto. After so many times visiting Japan, I personally feel that it is very important for you to choose the best places to stay especially visiting Kyoto. There are too many great hotels and unique ryokan for you to explore the “only in Japan” accommodation experience.
However, due to budget concerns and most people don’t want to change hotels every day. So, choosing the best accommodation and where to stay in Kyoto is important when planning the best Kyoto itinerary. Looking at these major concerns, I’ve narrowed down the best area to base yourself on when visiting Kyoto. Most importantly, the best hotel in Kyoto at a different budget range and comfort level.
To avoid confusion, we have listed down our top three areas for where to stay in Kyoto, which is nearby Kyoto station, downtown Kawaramachi and the Gion area.
Where To Stay in Kyoto (The best areas and why):
- Kyoto station is the transportation hub and best base when visiting Kyoto. Stay nearby Kyoto station for easy getting around.
- Downtown Kawaramachi is the best area to stay in Kyoto. It located nearby to the major attractions in Higashiyama District yet still accessible by transportation by local trains.
- Gion in Higashiyama District is best for those who love to experience the traditional Japanese atmosphere. Stay in ryokan if you want to stay in Gion.
- Arashiyama is a great place to stay in Kyoto for nature lovers.
If you’re unsure where to stay or planning for a day trip to other attractions like Uji and Nara, then stick to Kyoto station. Don’t underestimate the popularity of Kyoto. A popular hotel can be finished booking by travelers once it opens for reserve.
Continue to read on as we have listed down the reason in more detail. Added, include with best hotel recommendation in Kyoto for you.
- Nearby Kyoto Station: Main transport hub and easy getting around.
- Downtown Kawaramachi: Most lively area in Kyoto and easily access to major attractions.
- Gion: Best place to stay to experience the traditional Japanese atmosphere.
- Arashiyama: Best area for nature lovers.
- Kyoto Accommodation Tips: Peak Season, Room Type, budget hotel
Near Kyoto Station
No doubt, staying near the Kyoto station is the best option when looking for where to stay in Kyoto. It is a transportation hub well connected with buses, trains, and even shinkansen. If you are getting to Kyoto from Tokyo or Kansai Airport, Kyoto station normally is your first stop point in Kyoto. Once you have done check-in, you can directly proceed for sightseeing in Kyoto or a day trip to Nara and Uji. No worry about finding what to eat in Kyoto station. It is a great place with plenty of good restaurants and shops inside the Kyoto station.
However, Kyoto station is not nearby with a famous tourist spot in Kyoto. In fact, staying nearby Kyoto station also mean that you need to travel by transportation to most of the attraction in Kyoto either by bus, subway or train. What I normally did is spending my whole day exploring Kyoto and only back to the hotel at night. So it is important to pick a comfortable hotel near Kyoto station within 5 to 10 minutes of walking distance after a tiring trip.
Where To Stay in Kyoto (Near Kyoto Station):
- Mid to Luxury Hotel: Daiwa Royal Hotel Grande Kyoto, Miyako Hotel Kyoto Hachijo
- Budget Hostel: Pieces Hostel Kyoto
Best Hotel Stay near Kyoto Station
Mid to luxury range hotel nearby Kyoto station:
Daiwa Royal Hotel Grande Kyoto is located a 5-minute walk from Kyoto station. It is a 4-star reputation Japanese chain hotel with Japanese standards. Clean with great-sized room for solo, couple, and family. 24 hours service desk and professional staff.
Miyako Hotel Kyoto Hachijo is another great option if you are looking for where to stay nearby Kyoto station. It is amazingly located right next to Kyoto station with great value for the price. Great for tourists looking to take the train to Osaka, Nara, and other places outside Kyoto.
Best budget hotel near Kyoto station:
Pieces Hostel Kyoto is your best budget hotel in Kyoto. It is a great option with a beautiful design hostel with a clean room at a reasonable price. Strategically located with less than 5 minutes walk from Kyoto station. Free breakfast includes Japanese and western food available.
Downtown Kawaramachi Kyoto is conveniently located in the middle of Kyoto city. It is the best place to stay in Kyoto with a modern lifestyle yet accessible to major attractions in Kyoto. There are many good hotels in downtown Kyoto with plenty of shops, restaurants, and food markets.
Most importantly several subway stations are located downtown, such as Sanjo Station (Keihan Line), Gion Shijo Station (Keihan Line), and also Kawaramachi Station (Hankyu Line). Staying at downtown Kyoto is not only a nearby famous attraction but also convenient for transportation arrangements to Osaka or Arashiyama.
Alternatively, you may also plan your Kyoto itinerary by traveling around on foot. The major attraction in Higashiyama District and Gion are within 5 to 15 minutes of walking distance.
Where To Stay in Kyoto (Downtown Kawaramachi):
- Mid to Luxury Hotel: The Royal Park Hotel Kyoto Sanjo, Hotel Resol Kyoto Kawaramachi Sanjo
- Mid Range Traditional Ryokan: Kyomachiya Ryokan Sakura Urushitei
- Budget Hostel: Hotel M’s Plus Shijo Omiya, Pieces Hostel Sanjo
Best Hotel in Downtown Kawaramachi
Mid to luxury range hotel in downtown Kyoto:
The Royal Park Hotel Kyoto Sanjo is a modern and cozy place to stay in Kyoto downtown. Although the rooms are relatively small just like the normal Japanese standard. But it is very comfortable and clean. The location is a superb strategy which is located nearby Kyoto Shiyakusho-mae Subway Station and Sanjo Keihan Station. Both stations are within a 3-minute walk away. Added, Ponto-cho, Gion, and plenty of eateries and shops are easy to access on foot.
Hotel Resol Kyoto Kawaramachi Sanjo is another popular pick in Kyoto. You will fall in love with this cozy hotel once you walked in. The environment is so tranquil and serene with various styled rooms available. Most importantly, this beautiful historic hotel is offering rooms at a reasonable price.
Kyomachiya Ryokan Sakura Urushitei is slightly away with a 10-minute walk from the lively Kawaramachi area. It is a Japanese-style accommodation with modern facilities and traditional design. You will fall in love with your ryokan stay in Kyoto here.
Best budget hotel in downtown Kyoto:
Hotel M’s Plus Shijo Omiya is located within a 5-minute walk from Omiya Station and Shijo-Omiya Station. It is a 3-star hotel and provides a clean and practical room in your Kyoto itinerary. A simple yet delicious breakfast is included for your stay
Meanwhile, Pieces Hostel Sanjo is your best hostel stay in the Kyoto downtown area. Similar to its sister hostel near Kyoto station, it is a great budget hotel that offers excellent value for your money. Extremely popular. Remember to book early to secure your stay.
Gion in Higashiyama District
Higashiyama can be separated into the southern and northern areas. While the Southern Higashiyama has the most important sightseeing attraction in Kyoto. Kiyomizudera and Gion are located right in the middle.
Gion is renowned as Geisha District in Japan where you may spot a Geisha passing by. Its great traditional Japanese atmosphere is the perfect place for you to soak in Japanese culture. There has a good variety of ryokans and traditional guest homes in the Gion area. I highly recommended you choose those unique Japanese homestays if want to stay in Gion. Else, you can opt for the best hotel downtown suggested above which is located nearby Gion.
Where To Stay in Kyoto (Gion):
- Luxury High-end Ryokan: Gion Hatanaka
- Mid Range Traditional Ryokan: Kyoto Granbell Hotel
Best Hotel To Stay in Gion
Best hotel and ryokan stay in Gion:
Kyoto Granbell Hotel is your best accommodation in Kyoto. It features modern architecture yet with traditional Japanese design. Located at a great location among all the attractions in Gion and close to the Gion-Shijo Subway Station with a 3-minute walk. Additionally, a public bath is available for hotel guests.
Gion Hatanaka is a luxury high-end Ryokan located a short distance away from the historic Gion district. All the historical important top sightseeing attractions are located within walking distance. It is a truly amazing and authentic Japanese ryokan stay in Kyoto. Enjoy your hot spring onsen experience in a spacious public bath overlooking a Zen garden. The price is slightly higher but worth it. Added, your stay is included with breakfast and kaiseki multi-course dinner.
Arashiyama is located slightly far away from Kyoto’s downtown. It is one of the popular attractions when visiting Kyoto. In fact, Arashiyama is not a popular place to stay when visiting Kyoto. However, it is a good option if you would like to stay close to nature. It is good for one night to stay in the finest ryokan in Arashiyama for nature lovers.
Rangetsu, Suiran Hotel, and Arashiyama Benkei are the best finest ryokan in Arashiyama. All are perfect traditional ryokan that made you feel like your own Japanese home with onsen facilities. A great place for your perfect stay in Arashiyama who wants to be based here. Friendly reminder that limited rooms are available for ryokan. Reserve your room as earlier as possible to avoid disappointment.
Kyoto Accommodation Tips
For those who travel to Kyoto and even Japan, it is important to know some of the basic accommodations. There are a few important guides that you should know when looking for where to stay in Kyoto.
Kyoto Accommodation Tips:
- Kyoto travel peak season is Japan’s golden week, cherry blossom, and fall foliage season.
- Rooms can be easily fully booked during peak season.
- Hotel rates will vary depending on the season.
- Know your room type when booking your hotel.
Kyoto Travel Peak Season
Generally, the hotel rate will be separated into low, normal, peak, and super peak season. Normally, the weekend rate will be slightly higher than the weekday. So, don’t get surprised that the Kyoto hotel rates will be increasing during the peak season.
The peak and super peak seasons are during the Japan golden week, cherry blossom at the end of March to April, and fall foliage season at the end of November to December. Expected the hotel rate will increase double or triple compared with the normal rate. But believe me, your visit to Kyoto during this period will be worth it.
However, one of the biggest challenges in visiting Kyoto during the sakura season is finding the best hotel stay in Kyoto. More than half of the rooms were already booked during January to secure their room in April. My sincere advice for those planning to visit Kyoto during peak season. Popular Kyoto hotels with cheaper prices normally is running fast. For budget travel, please book your room as soon as your travel date is confirmed. You might still be able to get your best stay in Kyoto at a slightly cheaper price.
One of my visits to Kyoto is during cherry blossom in early April. I booked my room 6 months in advance once my flight ticket was purchased. Although it might be crowded with lots of tourists everywhere. But my Kyoto trip with sakura blossom is amazingly fantastic. You really can’t imagine how Japanese people love the sakura. The whole nation even the air is in a pink vibe. One of the unforgettable trips that last forever.
Kyoto Room Type
Last but not least, it is important to know your room type when visiting Kyoto or even Japan. By Japanese standards, don’t be surprised that the size of the room is smaller than what you stay normally.
Generally, there are offering a single room for one person, double or twin room for two-person. So Japan is very suitable for solo travelers or couples. Some hotels will offer a triple room and family room up for 4 people to stay. You may notice that there is a semi-double room that caters to two-person. A semi-double room can stay up to two-person but it is smaller compared to a standard double room. It is like a super single bed but staying for two. So, if you prefer a bigger bed, please stay in a double or twice a room with a bigger space.
Take note that Japan is very strict about the number of people who stay in the room. Extra bed is not available due to the limited space. So make sure to double-check if you are bringing kids to stay with you.
Final Tips on Where To Stay in Kyoto
We recommended staying nearby Kyoto station for first-time travelers. Staying nearby Kyoto station will help you to save a lot of energy and time for easy getting around.
With all factors and things considered, Downtown Kawaramachi is the best area to stay in Kyoto for first-time visitor. Downtown Kawaramachi offers plenty of shops and restaurants and is within walking distance of historical Gion.
In my opinion, Osaka is a better option if you are limited in time. The accommodation price is also cheaper in Osaka compared with Kyoto.
I always recommended people spend at least one night in ryokan whenever visiting Kyoto and even Japan. It is the best way to experience the traditional atmosphere in Japan.
Overview: Kyoto Best Hotel
Lastly, I hope this handy Kyoto hotel guide helps you choose and decide the best hotel and where to stay in Kyoto! Remember: Kyoto is a popular and famous attraction. Make sure to book your accommodations ahead of time. Get ready for the Kyoto holiday!
If you have any questions about your trip to Kyoto, get in touch, and I’ll do my best to help you out. Happy travels to Kyoto!
Related Kyoto/Osaka/Nara/Uji travel blog:
- 3 Days Kyoto Itinerary: A Travel Guide Blog For First-Timers
- Things to do in Osaka: Ultimate Travel Guide Blog
- Osaka Amazing Pass itinerary: A Travel Guide Blog
- Nara Itinerary: Perfect Day Trip From Osaka & Kyoto
- Uji Itinerary: Best Day Trip From Kyoto
Kyoto Food Guide: Top 7 Must Eat Food in Kyoto