With its temples, shrines heritage sites and traditional architecture, Kyoto is without a doubt a must-see in any trip to Japan. Often ranked higher than other Japanese cities like Osaka and even Tokyo, the capital of Japan, Kyoto holds the title of being the best historically preserved cities in Nippon.
One of the only cities you’ll be able to get to experience a traditional shrine, geisha tea ceremony and the best of world heritage all in one day, Kyoto is full of great locations to stay and experience some of the local life.
There are many different, and many time artistic, options for lodging in Kyoto, Japan. Whether you’re looking for a stay near the strategic Kyoto station or want an immersive experience of Kyoto city life, Superprof invites you to discover some of the best locations in Kyoto according to your budget and travel needs.
Where to Stay in Kyoto While on Holiday
There are plenty of districts to stay in Kyoto if you’re looking to pass a couple of days in the city touring the best of what the Kyoto prefecture has to offer. The city is easily accessible by the Shinkansen, Kintetsu and Hankyu bullet train as well as the major airports in the area - Kansai international airport, Narita Airport and Osaka Itami International.
Getting to each district is, likewise, easily accessible by public transport including the city bus and metro. Some of the qualities you may be interested in are nearness to world heritage sites, price and availability.
Gion is one of the most frequented districts in Kyoto. Known for geiko’s dressed in traditional the Japanese style of kimonos, this district is home to UNESCO sites, Shinto shrine and Kiyomizu temple and streets that have preserved Shinto culture, the Meiji, Edo, Kofun period and more. Between Buddhist temples, you’ll be able to try traditional Japanese food and discover Kyoto’s ancient past. If you’re a history buff or want a “traditional” experience, staying in Gion may be worth your while.
If you’re a person who thinks historical centres are a bit stereotypical and want to experience a more modern Kyoto, you can stay in the centre of Kyoto next to the Karasuma metro station or Kyoto tower. It’s also a great location if you’re looking for shopping or a great night out.
On the same note, staying next to Kyoto station is a great idea if you’re looking to take advantage of the Japan rail or your Japan Rail Pass, or JR pass. Whether you want to use your rail pass to discover the JR West line or simply want to make day trips, Kyoto is a great starting location for seeing some of Japan’s greatest cities: Himeji, Hiroshima, Hakino, Hokkaido and more!
Another great district to stay in is Arashiyama in the West of Kyoto. More recommended for those who have the most time in the city or for return-visitors, the West will offer you access to the infamous Bamboo forest and Togetsukyo bridge.
Likewise, if you’re looking for a location further from the bustle of the city, take a look at lodgings in the South. Located next to beautiful mountains, you’ll be able within walking distance of the Fushimi ward, home to the Fusimi Inari Taisha, or Fushimi Inari shrine, dedicated to the god Inari. Start at the Taisha, the head shrine at Fushimi Inari, and hike up the mountain for the most breath-taking views.
To the higashi, east in Japanese, you’ll bump into a traditional pagoda, Heian period shrine and UNESCO world heritage monument all in one day. While lodging in this area is sparse, accessing this location is easy by public transport: find the best hostel or hotel Kyoto has to offer and you’ll still only be half an hour away from this historic district.
If you want to stay in the city centre, which extends from the Kyoto station to Gion, you’ll be able to experience many of the different tourist activities while staying within a reasonable budget. Some of the activities and monuments you’ll be able to visit while staying here include:
- Nijo Castle
- Nishiki, or Nishiki market
- Kyoto Imperial Palace, or Imperial Palace
To the North is a Buddhist temple admirer’s dream. If you’re a fan of Japan travel and are ready to experience more of the UNESCO world heritage site list, zen temple and garden Kankuji, or Kinkaku, Kitano and more are the perfect activities if you’re staying in the area.
Want to know the best seasons to visit Kyoto? Check out our seasonal guide to the ancient city!
Cheapest Places to Stay in the City of a Thousand Temples
Part of Japanese culture isn’t just buying the best souvenir for friends and family or visiting Mount Fuji - it’s also being able to spend a night on a typical tatami. Whether you’re visiting for cherry blossom season or you have an overnight layover from Kansai airport, staying in a hostel is a popular choice, especially in Gion. With so many different activities and site-seeing to do in Kyoto, you’ll be able to find one from 25 to 50 pounds a night in a central location. You’ll normally have to pay in yen on the day you arrive or leave.
Capsule hotels are a popular choice, found from Kansai international to the city centre. The concept is quite simple: each “room” is designed as an individual “capsule.” While not for everyone, it’s a great experience. Capsule hotels can run from 40 to 70 pounds a night.
Airbnb has become the more popular choice in recent years - although prices can vary depending on the season. For the seasoned traveller who enjoys a space of their own, this is the best bet. You’ll be able to find an Airbnb from 50 to 100 pounds a night.
Traditional Hotels and Lodgings in Kyoto
Finding a hotel in the city isn’t too complicated. Whether you’re in town to visit Kyoto university, are making a pilgrimage to a UNESCO world heritage site or are in town for the Matsuri festival, getting a great hotel just takes some booking well in advance.
Prices for hotels in Kyoto vary:
- 1 star or less: 70 pounds
- 2 stars: 90 pounds
- 3 stars: 120 pounds
- 4 stars: 250 pounds
- 5 stars: 950 pounds
Luxury hotels can reach to astronomical prices and that is a trend you’ll find throughout Japan. While it may seem worth it, luxury experiences can be found at cheaper prices so make sure to do your research.
Ryokans are another traditional experience when staying in traditional styled Nippon lodgings. Having at least one lodging experience in a ryokan is highly recommended.
Another great experience is getting a hotel that has an onsen, or hot spring. Coming from nearby mountains, these hot springs offer a relaxing experience and can be accessed at hotels in the price range of 50 to 230 pounds.
How and Where to Stay in Kyoto City?
Whether you’re interested in the history of the Shogun, love the history of the Edo period, or want to have a great home base for your travels in Japan, Kyoto can be a great place to live. The first thing you should know is that renting any lodging in Kyoto usually requires 6 months rent in advance.
If you have kids, there are plenty of international schools in Kyoto, including those that offer the International Baccalaureate program. Compared to the United Kingdom, food, personal care and entertainment are all higher in Japan. Housing, cloths and transportation, on the other hand, are cheaper. Here are some of the characteristics you should keep in mind when deciding on which district to settle down in:
- Location (nearness to work)
- Atmosphere (more touristy, less congested)
Your choice of lodging will depend heavily on the reason for your stay in Kyoto. If you’re there on a work and travel basis, Kyoto is one of the best connected cities in Japan. If you’re wondering how to get to different cities, you will be a short bullet train ride away from places like Kanazawa, Miyajima, Nagoya, Kurama and even the notorious Shinjuku in Tokyo. There are also plenty of natural sites to take in near Kyoto apart from a traditional Japanese garden or rock garden like those found at Ryozen Kannon. Lake Biwa is a great option for those into being in tune with nature.
Want more info? Check out our guide on traveling to and staying in Kyoto!