With more than 1200 years of history as capital of Japan, Kyoto has a lot to offer: more than 1000 shrines and temples, dozens of world-class museums, 17 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, 12 Special Places of Scenic Beauty... and of course, countless restaurants and cafes as well as shops that you should check out. A single day in Kyoto is simply not enough! Thankfully, Kyoto also boasts numerous great places to stay, no matter your preferences or budget.
Experience the pinnacle of Kyoto's omotenashi (hospitality) in a ryokan, a classic Japanese hotel. Large rooms where you sleep on a futon laid out on traditional tatami mats make you feel like a daimyo on a pleasure trip. Little extras like a cup of fresh green tea upon your return every day do the rest, and you should definitely try one of the kaiseki dinners many ryokan offer. Modern amenities like TV, wifi and en-suite bathroom come naturally, but most ryokan also have a large public bath or sento for their guests. While a ryokan may command a higher price than standard hotels, nowhere else will you feel quite so pampered!
For those of you who'd like to experience the old Japan on a budget, a minshuku is a good choice. These are small, usually family-run inns located in residential neighbourhoods. You still get your own tatami room, but you may have to share your bathroom with other guests. In general, no meals are served and some minshuku may have special rules like curfews etc. However, the cosy atmosphere does make up for it.
Among the things you can only find in Kyoto are machiya, old merchant's houses. These elongated houses lead you from the business area at the street entrance past tiny inner gardens to the private rooms at the backside. Many of these beautiful homes have been renovated and given a new lease of life as local hotels. They often lie in traditional neighbourhoods in the inner city area, and some of them allow you to rent the whole building!
With the declining number of children in Japan, many of Kyoto's old schools had to be closed and the buildings re-purposed. Recently, some of them have reopened as hotels with the continued support of their respective neighbourhoods. Try one of these for a special stay in old walls.
If you are the adventurous type of traveller, capsule hotels are for you! Capsule hotels are the Japanese version of dormitory style guest houses offering gender-separated floors with large shared bathrooms (and sometimes, public baths too) and free amenities, and large communal spaces with everything the DIY traveller needs. The dorm rooms typically have two rows of one-person capsules on top of each other, with each capsule equipped with TV, fan, safe, etc. Don't worry about cramped space: The capsules are high enough to sit up comfortably, and when you lie down, you are not able to touch the ceiling.
Besides the often uniquely Japanese accommodations above, Kyoto offers many "standard" hotels for your stay as well. You can find the best-known international 5- and 4-star hotels, as well as Japanese chain hotels catering to business travellers, and unique, one-of-a-kind local hotels with a special Kyoto charm.
Whatever you are looking for in Kyoto, you will surely find the perfect "home away from home" in our beautiful city!
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