Where Buddhist temples meet pink and white cherry blossoms, geishas roam narrow streets, and bamboo forests touch the sky, Kyoto is easily one of the most wonderful cities in the world.

Once the capital of Japan, Kyoto is now famous for its refined culture, imperial palaces and gardens, Shinto shrines, and traditional wooden houses. It’s a world away from the high-rise atmosphere of Tokyo, nestled between forest-clad mountains that change color with the seasons.

Kyoto might have its fair share of five-star hotels and capsule hostels, but for a true Japanese cultural experience, staying in one of the best ryokans in Kyoto is your best bet.

More than just a place to stay, these traditional inns offer a glimpse into the country’s rich heritage and cultural beauty.

The problem? Well, there are plenty of ryokans in Kyoto that offer a truly authentic cultural experience. So many, in fact, that it can be nearly impossible to narrow down the best ones.

That’s where we come in. With our travel expertise on the city and its surroundings, we’ve put together a list of fifteen of the best ryokans in this blossoming cultural center.

Guy does handstand under shrine in Kyoto, Japan.
Tried a different pose for this special one!
Photo: @audyscala
Best Ryokan for Couples in Kyoto
Garden Views at Ryokan Motonago
Best Ryokan for Couples in Kyoto

Garden Views at Ryokan Motonago

  • > $$$
  • > 2 Guests
  • > Shared bathroom facilities
  • > Local Japanese artwork
Best Budget Ryokan in Kyoto
Takigawa Ryokan
Best Budget Ryokan in Kyoto

Takigawa Ryokan

  • > $
  • > 2 Guests
  • > Laundry and daily housekeeping included
  • > Close to the train station in Shimogyo-Ku Tomita-Cho
Over-the-Top Luxury Ryokan in Kyoto
Garden View at Ryokan Genhouin
Over-the-Top Luxury Ryokan in Kyoto

Garden View at Ryokan Genhouin

  • > $$$$
  • > 2 Guests
  • > Ensuite bathroom with bathtub
  • > Warmly lit ryokan with traditional zen garden

Staying in a Ryokan in Kyoto

Offering a taste of authentic Japanese living, ryokans are more than just a simple hotel room to get a good night’s rest. They are based on the Japanese principle of omotenashi, which means a deep respect for hospitality. 

Authentic Japanese ryokans typically have shared spaces where guests can eat and converse with the owner. On arrival, you will usually be provided with a yukata – a cotton kimono robe – and slippers to wear in these common spaces.

A beautiful overhead view of the streets of Kyoto.
Pure authenticity and tranquility.
Photo: @audyscala

In your private suite, you can expect tatami mat flooring made from woven rice straw, sliding shoji doors made from translucent rice paper and wood, and a simple futon bed on the floor. When you arrive, you might be treated to a table laid out with tea and biscuits, which is also an in-room dining space where you can eat if you don’t want to dine in the communal area. 

Some ryokans have small gardens featuring traditional Japanese plants like bamboo, bonsai trees, mossy stone arrangements, and zen gardens.

Clearly, a ryokan offers a truly unique Japanese stay offering an experience that surpasses what a hotel or self-catering vacation rental can provide. Especially for first-time visitors, this is an epic way to experience the Japanese way of life.

What to Look For in a Ryokan in Kyoto

Most of the best ryokans in Kyoto include breakfast and dinner in the price. I highly recommend finding a ryokan that offers ‘kaiseki’, which is a meal of traditional Japanese cuisine with a focus on seasonal and local ingredients served on tasting plates. Hosts like to keep things organized, so make sure you tell your hosts if and when you want to eat your meals.

For the hot spring and spa fans, you’re in luck. Most ryokans are built on or near ‘onsens’, which are natural hot springs. Choose a property with access to hot baths for the ultimate relaxation experience. Some properties even offer massages for an extra fee.

If you’re visiting with kids, find a ryokan that is either private or kid-friendly. You don’t want to be that family causing havoc while other guests are trying their best to unwind and relax.

Filter your Booking.com search to ‘ryokans,’ and you’ll be presented with a wide range of inns for every budget and type of traveler. Unsuccessful? You will also find a fair share on Airbnb.

The Top 15 Ryokans in Kyoto

Now that we know a bit more about the traditional inns that can uplevel your Japan trip, let’s dive into our list of fifteen of the top ryokans in this dynamic Japanese city.

Kyo no Yado Sangen Ninenzaka – Overall Best Value Ryokan in Kyoto

Kyo no Yado Sangen Ninenzaka's traditional Japanese room with a table, two chairs, and a sliding door.

Located in the heart of Kyoto and featuring traditional details like tatami mat floors, futon bedding, and green tea rituals, this Ryokan is the ultimate spot to experience Japanese culture without breaking the bank.

Places to Visit Nearby:

  • Kiyomizu-dera Temple
  • Heian Shrine
  • Kyoto Imperial Palace

Step into your own traditional Japanese oasis amidst the hustle and bustle of Kyoto. Kyo no Yado Sangen Ninenzaka offers a comfortable Kyoto stay set amongst beautifully kept zen gardens. 

With free unlimited Wi-Fi, a bar and restaurant serving delicious local cuisine, and city views from a rooftop terrace, this is one of the best ryokans in Kyoto on a budget.

Family rooms are available, too, and guests can enjoy hotel-like amenities, including daily housekeeping, 24-hour reception, and laundry services. Conveniently located, the Ryokan is just a five-minute walk from historic temples and shrines and a short drive to the JR Kyoto Train Station.

Takigawa Ryokan – Best Budget Ryokan in Kyoto

Room in a traditional Japanese inn (Takigawa Ryokan) with two futon beds and a small table.

Hidden in a residential neighborhood close to the Shimogyo-Ku Tomita-Cho subway station, Takigawa Ryokan is a great option for budget travelers looking for an authentic Japanese hospitality experience without a high price tag.

The accommodation features air-conditioned Japanese-style rooms with tatami flooring, futon beds, and ground-level seating. On top of all this, the Ryokan also offers dry cleaning services and complimentary kimono rentals. A big bonus is that guests can rent bicycles from the property to tour the historic city.

Bathrooms are shared and include a public bathing area with optional massages for an additional fee.

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Ryokan Genhouin – Over-the-Top Luxury Ryokan in Kyoto

Garden View at Ryokan Genhouin

This Japanese-style home is the perfect blend of simple modernity and charming tradition.

Picture yourself submerged in a wooden hot spring bath, gazing into the zen garden as you relax your mind and body. Lit with dim lanterns and simply decorated with traditional Japanese interiors, the entire ryokan curates a tranquil ambiance. 

Rooms are private and well-equipped. Other than the usual, they feature a kettle, TV, safe, and complimentary Wi-Fi connection. Asian and vegetarian breakfast options are served each morning, giving you the perfect boost to kick off that hot Kyoto itinerary

Ryokan Motonago – Best Ryokan for Couples in Kyoto

living room with a wooden table and four chairs in Ryokan Motonago, Hyoto

Centrally located in the heart of Kyoto, less than a mile away from the Kiyomizu-dera Temple and Heian Shrine, Ryokan Motonago is a four-star property fit for royalty. Dim lighting and bamboo interiors bring a sense of warmth into the space, which is simply decorated with soft tatami mats and Japanese art.

I recommend this Ryokan in Kyoto as the perfect haven for traveling couples seeking a romantic getaway. It offers traditional Kyoto dining options and has a public bath. If you’re up for a bit of indulgence, you can request a spa or massage treatment and reserve the public bath for private use. 

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More Epic Ryokans in Kyoto

Hold tight, there are even more options to pique your interest! Check out a few more of my favorite Ryokans in Kyoto!


The front of a traditional Japanese Ryokan building (Ohanabo) at night softly lit

Fit for a group of six friends; this group-sized Ryokan is the perfect spot to experience Japanese culture with a group of your best mates. You’ll be in close quarters, but that’s all part of the fun.

Ohanabo is a three-star Ryokan just a seven-minute stroll from Kyoto station. Rooms are air-conditioned and include slippers, yukata robes, and even toothbrush and toothpaste! A multi-course Kaiseki dinner is served in the room, offering a chance to taste the delicacies of the region. After dinner, retire to your futons for the ultimate slumber party.

Matsui Honkan

A stone walkway leading to a Ryokan (Matsui Honkan) with a wooden facade and tile roof.

Traveling with kids is a tough business in Japan, not to mention pricey. Big enough to fit ten guests, this family-sized Ryokan is one of the most unique accommodations in Kyoto to stay with young kids. 

Matsui Honkan is a four-star Ryokan just a few steps from the buzzing Nishiki Market and Ponto-cho Street in Kyoto. That said, from the peaceful Ryokan, you’ll hardly believe you’re in a busy city at all.

Featuring large public baths, Japanese-style rooms with a tatami and shoji touch, and yukata robes and tea sets in each room, this spot promises an authentic Japanese hospitality experience.

Luck You Kyoto

The front of a traditional Japanese Ryokan building (Luck You Kyoto ) at night softly lit

Why stay in a stuffy hostel dorm when you can revel in your very own economical Ryokan suite in Kyoto? I mean, Kyoto’s hostels are cool and all, but let’s be real, Ryokans take it up a notch.

Luck You Kyoto offers traditional Japanese rooms with futon beds, tatami mats, and complimentary use of robes and slippers.

While many properties feature shared bathrooms, this one includes access to a private bathroom with a shower and a bath. Wake up each morning to the smell of a fresh Asian breakfast, which is included in your nightly rate.

Another luxury uncommon in hostels is that this Ryokan is serviced daily, meaning you’ll come home to a freshly cleaned room each day. Sign me up!

Toshiharu Ryokan

a room in Toshiharu Ryokan with a table and chairs right in the middle, sliding paper doors and a view of a garden.

Surrounded by a traditional Japanese garden and courtyard clad with mossy stones and bonsai trees, you’ll wake up in a state of inner zen and peace every morning at Toshiharu Ryokan.

Built in the Meiji era, the building oozes with history and is registered as a historical site. The ryokan offers authentic Japanese accommodation paired with green tea rituals and comfortable gowns, with some rooms even boasting garden views. It is the perfect recipe for reconnecting with your inner self.

Location-wise, this is one of the best ryokans in Kyoto. It is just a few minutes from the Gojo Station and one subway stop from JR Kyoto Train Station.

Machiya Ryokan with Zen Garden

A traditional Japanese room with a dining table, sliding paper doors and a view of a garden in Machiya Ryokan

Embrace the authentic interiors and stylish simplicity of this one-bedroom ryokan just a short stroll from an iconic temple. Rented out as a full self-catering vacation rental, this ryokan seamlessly blends modern Western touches with Japanese interiors. 

Traditional Japanese architecture with exposed wooden beams and shoji screens, a wooden deck overlooking the Karesansui garden, and tatami flooring bring the Japanese element into play. When it comes to Western influence, the ryokan has a small kitchen and modern living and dining room with heated floors and air conditioning.

Authentic Restored Kyo Machiya House

A room with a table set for tea in an Authentic Restored Kyo Machiya House with a sliding door in the background leading to a bedroom.

Nestled in the heart of Kyoto in Kamigyo-ku, this townhouse Ryokan is the perfect place for long-term visitors. It’s affordable, centrally located, and fitted with all the necessities you might need to prepare a meal or host some friends.

While it retains the classic Kyoto architectural and interior aesthetic, the house features Western comforts like high beds, a kitchenette, and a dining table and chairs that don’t require sitting on the floor. Staying here offers a unique chance to enjoy traditional living without changing up your routine too much.

Ishibekoji Muan

Room in a traditional Japanese inn (Ishibekoji Muan) with two futon beds and a small table with chairs.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but I’m sure we can all agree that this twin room at Ishibekoji Muan is one of the more beautiful properties on the list.

Picture this: you decide to stay at this unique accommodation in Kyoto during winter. The snow is falling, and you’re cozied up inside this warm and heated ryokan in the heart of the city. 

You wake up in your comfortable futon bed to a freshly prepared Japanese breakfast. After you’ve had your coffee buzz, you head into the city to explore, only to return to the ryokan to indulge in a bubbling hot bath in your private modern bathroom. Convinced yet?

Affordable Room in Kyoto-Shi with Garden

Room interior in Kyoto-Shi with Garden

As a solo traveler in Japan, you’ll struggle to find a place more affordable and comfortable than this basic ryokan in Kyoto-shi. With access to your own private room and dedicated bathroom, you’ll experience unrivaled peace and quiet in the heart of the city. 

Set in a traditional Machiya House first built in 1933, guests can enjoy exclusive use of three rooms and two authentic Japanese gardens without bumping into another guest. For a cultural experience like no other, visit the ceremonial tea tatami room.

100-Year-Old Machiya Guest House

Room in a 100-Year-Old Machiya Guest House with tatami mats and a low wooden table with cushions overlooking a beautiful garden

This 100-year-old Machiya Ryokan is enough to transport yourself into your zen Japanese dreams. Built from local bamboo materials with shoji screens that open onto a deck and a small, lush garden, there are few places that evoke a sense of calm as much as this one. 

As part of your rate, you can enjoy basic kitchenette facilities, Wi-Fi, and toiletries. Take note that you will have to pay to use bath towels, a traditional yukata gown, and to rent a bicycle. Worth it, if you ask me!

Tanimachi-Kun Ryokan

Room in a traditional Japanese Ryokan (Tanimachi-Kun Ryokan) with two futon beds and a small table with chairs.

If sleeping close to the ground doesn’t jive with you, this ryokan is here to prove you wrong. Fitted with ultra-luxurious goose-down futon bedding, a good night’s rest is almost guaranteed at this unique accommodation in Kyoto.

The rooms beautifully blend Japanese and Western styles, featuring top-of-the-line toiletries, a separate traditional dining space, and private bathrooms. 

Conveniently, this hotel is located just a short walk from Kyoto’s original shopping district, shrines, historic temples, and prayer gardens.

Heihachi Tea House Inn

Heihachi Tea House Inn nestled amidst the branches of a large tree in a forest.

Heihachi Tea House Inn offers the full Japanese experience – tea rituals, traditional meals, and authentic tatami accommodation. The ryokan dates back 450 years, offering an eye into ancient Japanese living. 

With four stars and a thumbs up from us, you can expect world-class service and hospitality throughout your stay. Built along the Takano River, the accommodation has a garden that blooms with cherry blossoms in the spring and yellow leaves in the fall.

It’s surrounded by nature and features traditional tatami and futon sleeping arrangements and shared bathing facilities. What more could you ask for?

Don’t Forget Your Kyoto Travel Insurance

With every kind of travel, unfortunate shenanigans always have the potential to ruin your trip. This is why you should definitely consider some solid Japan travel insurance, even if you’re just embarking on a weekend getaway. 

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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Final Thoughts on Ryokans in Kyoto

There’s no doubt about it: staying in one of the best ryokans in Kyoto will be the best travel decision you have ever made. Not only will you get a comfortable and unique place to rest your head, but you’ll also be opened up to a world of Japanese living, dining, and bathing rituals. And I’m not talking tourist-trap nonsense. This is the real, authentic thing. 

Whether you want the full ryokan experience or want to mix it up with a few nights in a ryokan and a few in a hotel, there are plenty of traditional inns on this list for the job. Make sure you book this unique accommodation in Japan well in advance if you’re traveling during the busy season to make sure you can stay in the best ryokan for your travel needs, budget, and timing. 

One more thing – purchase travel and medical insurance for your trip if you’re visiting from abroad. There is not much worse than having to fork out an arm and a leg for lost luggage or a minor injury on holiday.

Girl pets cat while at a famous shrine in kyoto, Japan.
Saying hi to some locals <3
Photo: @audyscala
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