Take a look at the best boutique hotels in Kyoto.
For guests who want to experience a reasonably priced traditional Japanese inn in central Kyoto, Ryokan Shimizu is a solid choice. Rooms features tatami mats and futon mattresses spread on the floors plus private bathrooms. There’s no restaurant and breakfast isn't served, but the staff is quick with tips and directions to nearby eating spots. Two large on-site baths can be reserved for private groups, and the Higashi Honganji Temple is just a 10-minute walk away. Guests leave their keys at the hotel when going out for the day -- be aware that there's a midnight curfew, and the inn enforces a quiet policy in the later part of the evening.
Fusing traditional features with contemporary updates, the mid-range, 24-room Watazen hotel allows tourists to experience a traditional Japanese inn (or ryokan) without feeling completely out of their element. An indoor public bath (onsen), rooms with tatami mats and futons, and authentic Japanese-style dining options are available, while free Wi-F, in-room showers, and on-site laundry are convenient modern comforts. The hotel’s downtown location is also convenient for accessing Kyoto’s major attractions on foot or by public transport -- Nishiki Market is a three-minute walk away. For a more conventional property, the Hotel Sunroute Kyoto is closer to Kyoto Station and has cheaper rates, but no public bath.
The 27-room, three-and-a-half-pearl Matsui Honkan Ryokan is surrounded by the buzz of Kyoto's city center, and a 15-minute walk from Gion. With attractive interiors and a good range of Western and Japanese rooms, this hotel has broad appeal. Rooms are decorated in a modernized traditional Japanese style. Clever additions like outdoor gardens in premium rooms and separate lounge areas in others set the hotel apart from its competition. Attracting couples and families on sightseeing holidays, this hotel has a good selection of facilities including a souvenir shop and an onsen, offering a relaxing alternative to city sightseeing. While there is no on-site restaurant, daytime meals can be ordered via room service. Travelers looking for a four-pearl hotel with varied dining options might try the Kyoto Hotel Okura.
The 65-room Kyoto Itoya Hotel is a centrally located mid-range option close to public transportation, shops, and eateries. Its modern rooms are small (as is typical here) and come with flat-screen TVs, mini-fridges, hot-water kettles, and robes and slippers. A Japanese-style breakfast is served daily for a fee, and guests get a coupon for a free coffee or tea upon check-in. The breakfast space is also a lounge area, with free newspapers, books, magazines, and tourist info. Bikes can be rented on-site, and Wi-Fi is free throughout. Self-sufficient travelers interested in rooms with kitchenettes and a little more space could check out the nearby Citadines Karasuma-Gojo Kyoto, which is a bit cheaper.
Part of a small chain of hotels throughout Japan themed around European cities, the centrally located, upper-middle-range Hotel Monterey Kyoto combines elements of Kyoto style with the tradition of Great Britain, Edinburgh in particular, right down to the Scotch-plaid carpeting in the Cafe & Bar. The over-the-top replica of an Upper Chelsea wedding chapel verges on kitschy, though. The 327 rooms range from Standard Singles, which can feel cramped, to Deluxe Corner Twins and Family Rooms with sitting areas. The hotel has two restaurants -- the French Escale and the Japanese-focused Zuientei, plus the Cafe & Bar, designed to mimic a "stately" home. Access to the top-floor spa, with spring-water filled baths, comes with a fee, as does the Japanese- and Western-style breakfast buffet.
Located outside the city center near the Kamo River, the upscale Seikoro Inn is a "ryokan," a traditional Japanese inn with dedicated in-room service, communal baths, and guidelines that guests are expected to follow. Opened in 1831, this 22-room hotel reflects a traditional Japanese aesthetic, with bamboo, woven elements, a trove of antiques, and a serene garden. Rooms are spacious and spartan, with floor cushions and tatami mat beds made up on the floor, but modern additions like flat-screen TVs and free Wi-Fi can also be found. For some, a stay here is relaxing and a rich cultural experience; others feel oppressed by the lack of privacy and underwhelmed by the facilities given the high cost. Those who want the ryokan experience at a lower price point could consider the Kyoto Garden Ryokan Yachiyo.
Located in the mountains to the northeast of Kyoto, the 29-room L'Hotel de Hiei caters to guests looking for an upscale getaway far from the city bustle. Close to Mount Hiei and the Garden Museum Hiei, the hotel makes it easy for travelers to commune with nature, but it's a 30-minute drive or more to many parts of downtown Kyoto. The common areas and rooms interpret traditional French and Western decor through a Japanese appreciation for clean lines and minimalist ornamentation. The result is upscale and homey, and the free Wi-Fi and minibars are both nice. Guests may also want to consider Kyoto Brighton Hotel, a more modern property in a quiet, residential setting, though within walking distance of Kyoto Imperial Palace.