These are the best high-end ryokan in Kyoto, in rough order of preference. I’ve personally inspected all the places on this list.
Tawaraya isn’t just the best ryokan in Kyoto – it may be the best ryokan in Japan. There are even some who call this the finest accommodation in the world. It’s a magical sanctuary that you’ll never want to leave. The service is supernaturally good here: they know what you want before you do. This is the place to sample the Japanese ryokan experience.
Pros: Perfect service, lovely gardens, beautiful rooms, superb food, convenient downtown location.
Cons: Can’t think of any.
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Located directly across the street from the Tawaraya, the Hiiragiya is a polished ryokan thoroughly at home with foreign guests. There are immaculate rooms in the new wing, but I like the wabi-sabi patina of the rooms in the old wing.
Pros: Great food, excellent service, beautiful gardens, convenient downtown location.
Cons: Less intimate in scale than some other inns.
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Designed as a “hidden ryokan,” Tamahan really does feel like a hidden refuge in the city. Located on my favorite pedestrian-only alley in Kyoto, Ishibei-koji, this inn may be the best located ryokan in Kyoto. Rooms look out over a fantastic inner garden and the decorations are museum quality.
Pros: Brilliant location, excellent food, huge rooms.
Cons: Very expensive.
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All the way up in the tiny hamlet of Kibune (one valley over from Kurama and its famous temple), Ugenta is a rare find. The inn is divided into two exquisite units (and they only accept two groups per evening). One side is Western-style – all smooth wood and modern furnishings – the other is traditional Japanese – with sublime old Japan touches. Both units have indoor baths and private outdoor baths that face the mountainside. This would be a brilliant spot for a romantic getaway (and it’s just 30 minutes by taxi from Kyoto).
Pros: Giant apartment-size private units, all the mod cons, the latest in Japanese design, great food, impossibly quaint village location.
Cons: Nothing to do in the village at night (but, you’d be crazy to want to leave the inn, so this doesn’t really matter).
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No ryokan in Kyoto comes close to Hoshinoya for dramatic approach: a private boat will whisk you up the Oigawa River to a boat landing, where the staff will greet you and escort you to your room. Surrounded by greenery, overlooking the rushing waters of the river, this place feels like a completely different world from Kyoto, but a quick trip back down the river brings you to the bustling Arashiyama tourist district. The design here is modern Japanese and the feeling is of extreme privacy.
Pros: Magical river approach, fantastic riverside setting, slick modern design.
Cons: A bit of a hike to downtown.
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Right on the doorstep of Yasaka-jinja Shrine and Maruyama-koen Park, Hatanaka is a spacious modern ryokan with some expansive beautifully decorated rooms and a young manager who knows how to serve foreign guests. They put on regular geisha entertainment and the food is first-class.
Pros: Right in the heart of the Southern Higashiyama sightseeing district, comfortable with foreign guests.
Cons: A bit large for some people’s taste.
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Once you step into the secluded entryway, it’s like you’ve stepped into another world. The Seikoro is a classic ryokan with almost flamboyant decorative touches that recall art nouveau. All rooms look over lovely gardens and have fine wooden bathtubs.
Pros: Attentive service, lovely décor, comfortable with foreign guests.
Cons: Gojo-dori location is somewhat inconvenient (but, it’s close to a subway station and within walking distance of Kiyomizu-dera and Gion).
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Like the name suggests, this superb ryokan is located up on Yoshida-yama, a beautiful hill in the northeast part of town. The rooms here are beautiful and the food is wonderful, but the location is the real attraction here: walk out the door and in a few minutes, you’ll find yourself in some of Kyoto’s most beautiful (and seldom visited) temples.
Pros: Stunning location, beautiful front garden, warm service.
Cons: A fair distance from downtown.
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Garden Ryokan Yachiyo is fine ryokan right “on the doorstep” of Nanzen-ji Temple, comfortable with foreign guests and close to the subway. It makes a perfect base for exploring both the city and Kyoto’s surrounding natural wonders.
Pros: Great location by Tozai subway line and the Higashiyama mountains too
Cons: Not all rooms have garden views
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Best High-End Ryokan In Kyoto
- Hiiragiya Ryokan
- Hatanaka (check availability on Agoda.com)
- Seikoro (check availability on Agoda.com)
- Yoshida Sanso (check availability on Booking.com)
- Garden Ryokan Yachiyo (check availability on Agoda.com)
Best Mid Price Ryokan In Kyoto
- Hirashin Ryokan (check availability on Agoda.com)
- Nishiyama Ryokan (check availability on Agoda.com)
- Ryokan Izuyasu (check availability on Agoda.com)
Best Budget Ryokan In Kyoto
- Kyoto Yoshimizu
- Ryokan Shimizu (check availability on Booking.com)
- Uemera Ryokan (check availability on Booking.com)
- Matsubaya Ryokan (check availability on Agoda.com)
More Kyoto Hotels info:
- Kyoto Hotels - Our Personal Recommendations
- Check availability and pricing for Kyoto hotels at Agoda.com
- Best Kyoto Hotels For Families
- Best Kyoto Hostels and Guesthouses
- Kyoto Hotels with Free Wifi
- Best Ryokan In Kyoto
- Best Budget Ryokan In Kyoto