While a bit on the pricey side, backpacking Japan is one of the coolest experiences you can have as a traveler.
It’s one of those few countries that is completely safe and comfortable to travel, but that still provides a heavy dose of wonder and culture shock. Kyoto is one of the gems of backpacking Japan.
But with thousands of hotels and hostels available, it can be overwhelming to know which to book.
Which is exactly why I made this post of the best hostels in Kyoto!
This post is meant to do one thing – help you figure out which of the best hostels in Kyoto suits your travel needs, so you can book quickly and get back to what matters… eating ramen and visiting cat cafes.
Quick Answer – The Best Hostels in Kyoto
- Overall Best Hostel in Kyoto – Ryokan Hostel Gion
- Best Cheap Hostel in Kyoto – Guest House YULULU
- Best Party Hostel in Kyoto – Len Kyoto
- Best Hostel for Solo Travelers in Kyoto – Kyoto Hana Hostel
- Best Hostel for Digital Nomads in Kyoto – The Millennials
What to Expect from Hostels in Kyoto
If you are backpacking Japan, Kyoto is one of the must-visit gems.
As the historical and cultural capital of Japan, there are over 2000 temples in the city, and it has retained much of the original architecture from over a hundred years ago. As Kyoto was thankfully (largely) spared from the bombing of World War Two, there is a ton of history in Kyoto to explore.
But like Japan as a whole, Kyoto is not cheap, so what can you do to keep costs down? Why, stay in one of Kyoto’s best hostels!
Hostels not only provide you with affordable accommodation, but they are also a great place to meet other like-minded travelers. Solo travelers in Japan, in particular, will have a great time in a hostel, as you can make new friends to explore the city with.
There are many types of hostels in Kyoto; there are a ton of youth hostels that tailor to the younger generation. There are party hostels which, as the name suggests, are for those looking for a lively night out. You can even find traditional guesthouses, called Machiya houses, which are made from wooden structures that often date back more than 100 years. That’s right, you can stay in history.
Generally speaking, traditional guesthouses are more expensive than your youth and party hostels, but you can still find a few good deals around. I’ve listed a few of those in this guide.
When looking for a quality hostel in Kyoto, there are a few things to take into consideration:
- Price – As mentioned, Kyoto is great, but it’s going to cost you. Spending less than $50 a day in Japan is tough, but with dorms starting at $15 a night staying in hostels is a great way to start. One thing to keep an eye on is…
- Location – Kyoto is not terribly massive – especially when compared to Tokyo! Because of its smaller size, great public transit, and general safety, you can really stay anywhere in this amazing city and be able to move around easily.
- Amenities – The hostel scene in Japan and Kyoto is great. Very developed, high quality, and tons of freebies. While not all of the hostels offer free breakfast, a bunch do, and there are other things to take advantage of like free tea, towels, and laundry facilities. These freebies can add up, and quickly.
Speaking of things adding up, let’s talk about money. Kyoto’s hostels normally have three options: dorms, capsule-like pods, and private rooms. Some hostels even offer large private rooms for a group of friends, but unless you’re booking an entire vacation rental, you will unlikely find an apartment. The general rule here is the more beds in a room, the cheaper the price.
Obviously, you won’t have to pay as much for a 24-bed dorm (yes they do go up that high) as you would for a single-bed or private room. To give you a rough overview of Kyoto’s prices, I’ve listed the average numbers below:
- Dorm room: (mixed or female-only): $15-$30 USD/night
- Private room: $20-$90 USD/night
When looking for hostels, you’ll find the best options on HOSTELWORLD. This platform offers you a super safe and efficient booking process. All hostels are displayed with a rating and previous guest reviews. You can also filter your personal travel needs easily and find the perfect place for you.
When looking up hostels, you should consider where to stay in Kyoto in terms of neighborhood. Gion is the most historic neighborhood and therefore the most expensive, as is Higashiyama. Staying around Shimogyo and the Kyoto train station is a good idea as it’s centrally located to the main attractions, however, it can also be more expensive as it’s a popular tourist spot.
Staying a little outside the city center in Kamigyo or Arashiyama might offer cheaper accommodation but you will need to travel to tourist attractions. Luckily, Kyoto isn’t a huge city and is well connected with the metro, so this won’t be a problem.
The 5 Best Hostels in Kyoto
Organized by your travel needs, these are the best hostels in Kyoto. Whether you’re looking for something affordable and basic or more traditional, there’s something for everyone on this list!
Ryokan Hostel Gion – Overall Best Hostel in Kyoto
Located in the heart of Gion, Ryokan Hostel is not only in the most historical and culturally awesome part of Kyoto, but it’s affordable too. You’ll get to explore the best of Kyoto without having to spend too much.
There is a mixture of dormitories and private rooms available, including female-only dorms. The 24-bed dorms are of course the cheapest option, though each of the capsule-like bunk beds has its own curtain for privacy.
Why you’ll love this hostel:
- Real Japanese home
- Budget friendly
- Comfy beds
The hostel is in a traditional wooden townhouse, called a Machiya. There are a lot of unique restaurants, shops, and cafes nearby, so you can really get a sense of life in Kyoto whilst staying in a historical Japanese house. All rooms come with an electric teapot and sometimes even a kitchenette with a microwave.
There’s a common area where you can mingle with other travelers and there are also laundry facilities, luggage storage and stylish bathrooms with high-tech plumbing.
Guest House YULULU – Best Cheap Hostel in Kyoto
The best budget hostel in Kyoto is undoubtedly Guest House YULULU. Only a three minute walk from the train station, the hostel is set in a traditional Japanese house. It’s the perfect place to add to your Kyoto itinerary, especially if you’re a backpacker. And unlike other hostels that can house dozens of travelers, this cheap Kyoto accommodation can only take up to 15 guests at a time.
Why you’ll love this hostel:
- Very affordable
- Futon style private rooms
The hostel features mixed gender 6-bed dorms and private rooms that have Japanese futon bedding on tatami. All rooms come with air conditioning! The hostel has a shared kitchen for all your basic cooking needs, and also provides travelers with free coffee and tea.
Close to both public transport AND Kyoto attractions like the Kiyomizu Dera, this small, comfy guesthouse brings you all the comforts of home, for less than virtually any other hostel in Kyoto. They also provide bicycle rentals for 500 Yen, and manga and local maps are available too!
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Len Kyoto – Best Party Hostel in Kyoto
The winner of the best party hostel in Kyoto is none other than Len Kyoto, and it’s not even close! The modern, sociable hostel features an onsite cafe and bar, which acts as one of the main “common rooms” of the hostel. It also happens to be only one minute away from the stunning Kamo River, which is rare to find in a city!
Why you’ll love this hostel:
- Cafe AND bar
- Lots of natural light
- Near public transport
Spaces are warm and clean, and guests can choose between mixed and female-only dorms, or private rooms. Lots of delicious bars and restaurants are nearby, though the hostel’s very own bar is an ideal place to get your night started.
Public transport isn’t too far away, but there are plenty of cool places to explore within walking distance! They even rent cycles out, which is the best way to visit Kyoto’s attractions if you ask me.
Kyoto Hana Hostel – Best Hostel for Solo Travellers in Kyoto
If you are on your own and you have a budget to stick to, it doesn’t get better than Kyoto Hana Hostel. One of the best budget hostels in Kyoto, Kyoto Hana Hostel has tons of freebies like free WiFi, English maps, Green Tea, Coffee, luggage storage, and even washing powder.
Why you’ll love this hostel:
- Amazing location
- Japanese style private rooms
- Bicycle rental
Kyoto Hana Hostel offers both traditional Japanese private rooms as well as mixed and female-only dorms, and their private rooms happen to be some of the cheapest in the city! Bunk beds come with privacy curtains, charging outlets, and an individual light.
You’ll also be close to the city’s main attractions as well as a number of unique things to do in Kyoto–with the train station only a 5 minute walk away, this is the perfect base to explore the city. Extra amenities like washing/drying machines, photocopying services, and cycle rentals are also on offer for a small fee.
The Millennials – Best Hostel for Digital Nomads in Kyoto
The Millennials Kyoto looks like it’s right out of a sci-fi Hollywood movie with its iPod-controlled room features such as automatic blinds and reclining beds! There’s even a pull-out 80-inch projector in each pod and a huge sliding cabinet under your bed to safely store all your stuff away. There’s no doubt this is one of the best places to stay in Japan.
Why you’ll love this hostel:
- Futuristic vibes
- Insane amenities
- Working lounge
20% of the hostel consists of common areas, including a work space, kitchen, play zone, dining area and bar that are open to hostel guests 24/7. As one of the best hostels in Japan, Millenials provides you with everything you need to live your best digital nomad life in Kyoto.
The location is ideal for wandering around the city, and you’ll get a good night’s sleep in the extremely comfortable pods. You absolutely will NOT find a more luxurious capsule experience than this! They often even have a free drinks hour where you can mingle with fellow nomads and travelers alike.
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More Of The Best Hostels in Kyoto
If you’re still unsure about which hostel is right for you, check out some more of the best hostels in Kyoto below.
It doesn’t get much better than Backpackers Hostel K’s House when it comes to the best hostel for couples in Kyoto.
Unlike the name, the hostel is fit for all kinds of travelers and not just backpackers. With super-clean private ensuite rooms, couples are able to get plenty of privacy and not have to stand next to strangers while brushing their teeth. Fix yourself a romantic meal in the communal kitchen and enjoy it up on the rooftop terrace with great views of Kyoto.
Gojo Guest House is one of the most recommended hostels in Kyoto because of its chilled-out and social vibe. The famous Kiyomizu-Dera Temple is just a 15-minute walk from the hostel, but you can rent a bicycle for around $5 for the day.
The traditional Japanese style of sleeping gives you a true Japanese feel and is good for your back, especially if you have been carrying a heavy backpack for months on end. Gojo Guesthouse has very reasonably priced rooms making it the best hostel with a private room in Kyoto.
This Japanese style capsule hostel features a type of accommodation that you’ll ONLY find in Japan: capsule pods. Pods have way more amenities and privacy than typical hostel beds, and are typically comfier too.
Modern, futuristic-like design features are all over the hostel, from the all-white lounge to the updated fridge. The hostel is located in the heart of Kyoto and is within walking distance of bars, restaurants and attractions. Private rooms aren’t available here though, so you’ll have to fully embrace the capsule experience!
This centrally located hostel/guest house is inside a traditional Japanese house that’s 100 years old! It’s within walking distance of major Kyoto attractions, and Kyoto station stops. Both bunk beds and private rooms are available, and the entire hostel has a welcoming, cozy feel.
All rooms are equipped with air conditioning to beat the summer heat, and a self catering kitchen is available if you want to save on food. The hostel also offers bicycle rentals for 500 yen/day and provides peace of mind with free luggage storage.
This Kyoto hostel was built in 2017 and features updated designs and amenities. Dorms are cleaned daily and each bunk offers an incredible amount of privacy. A communal kitchen is also available in case you want to take a break from eating out.
The hostel also has a comfortable work space useful for those living the digital nomad lifestyle, as well as a cozy seating area for socializing with fellow travelers. You’ll also be within a few minutes walk of Gojo Station, meaning the best of Kyoto is easily accessible.
What to Pack for your Kyoto Hostel
Pants, socks, underwear, soap?! Take it from me, packing for a hostel stay is not always quite as straightforward as it seems. Working out what to bring and what to leave at home is an art I have perfected over many years.
Snoring dorm-mates can ruin your nights rest and seriously damage the hostel experience. This is why I always travel with a pack of decent ear plugs.
Hanging Laundry Bag
Trust us, this is an absolute game changer. Super compact, a hanging mesh laundry bag stops your dirty clothes from stinking, you don’t know how much you need one of these… so just get it, thank us later.
Sea To Summit Micro Towel
Hostel towels are scummy and take forever to dry. Microfibre towels dry quickly, are compact, lightweight, and can be used as a blanket or yoga mat if need be.
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Check out our definitive Hostel Packing list for even more top hostel packing tips!
FAQ about Hostels in Kyoto
Here are some questions backpackers ask about hostels in Kyoto.
How much does a hostel cost in Kyoto??
The average price of hostels in Kyoto ranges from $15-$30/night for dorm rooms (mixed or female-only) and $20-$90/night for private rooms.
What are the best hostels in Kyoto for couples?
Backpackers Hostel K’s House Kyoto is an ideal hostel for couples in Kyoto. It is comfy, affordable, and near Kyoto Station.
What are the best hostels in Kyoto near the airport?
Kyoto Hana Hostel, one of the best budget hostels in Kyoto, is 42.4 km from Itami Airport.
Travel Safety Tips for Kyoto
While Japan is super safe overall, you always want to be prepared while traveling.
ALWAYS sort out your backpacker insurance before your trip. There’s plenty to choose from in that department, but a good place to start is Safety Wing.
They offer month-to-month payments, no lock-in contracts, and require absolutely no itineraries: that’s the exact kind of insurance long-term travellers and digital nomads need.
SafetyWing is cheap, easy, and admin-free: just sign up lickety-split so you can get back to it!
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More Epic Hostels in Japan and Asia
Hopefully, by now, you’ve found the perfect hostel for your upcoming trip to Kyoto.
Planning an epic trip all across Japan or even Asia itself?
Don’t worry – I’ve got you covered!
For more cool hostel guides around Asia, check out:
Final Thoughts on the Best Hostels in Kyoto
So that’s it, my epic guide to the best hostels in Kyoto! I hope it has helped you choose the perfect hostel for your adventure! I know there are a lot to choose from, so if you’re really not sure, I would recommend going with my ultimate favorite, the Ryokan Hostel Gion.
Not only is it located in the most historical part of the city, but you get to stay in history itself, all for a decent low price. You can’t really get better than that, can you? If you think you can, let me know in the comments!
However, if you do want to have an amazing experience and stay in one of the most traditional Japanese homes, then consider getting an Airbnb in Kyoto, which has a ton of unique options available.
And of course, have the best time in Kyoto! You will not regret your decision to go there. It is truly an unforgettable city.
Last Updated November 2022 by Samantha Shea
And for transparency’s sake, please know that some of the links in our content are affiliate links. That means that if you book your accommodation, buy your gear, or sort your insurance through our link, we earn a small commission (at no extra cost to you). That said, we only link to the gear we trust and never recommend services we don’t believe are up to scratch. Again, thank you!