Where you should stay in Kyoto

A Guide to Choosing the Perfect Area in Kyoto

Kyoto, the cultural heart of Japan, is a city where tradition meets modernity. Renowned for its well-preserved temples, beautiful gardens, and vibrant festivals, Kyoto offers a serene and enriching experience for all who visit. This guide seeks to illuminate the various neighbourhoods of Kyoto, helping you find the perfect place to stay based on your personal preferences.

Understanding Kyoto's Allure

Kyoto's charm lies in its ability to transport visitors to a bygone era. As the former imperial capital of Japan, the city is steeped in history, with over 2,000 religious sites that include temples and shrines. It's also the birthplace of many Japanese traditions, such as the tea ceremony and kaiseki dining, making it a must-visit for those interested in Japanese culture and history.

Where to Stay in Kyoto: A Comparative Guide

Selecting the ideal area to stay in Kyoto depends on what you wish to get out of your visit. Whether you're here to explore ancient sites, experience the tranquillity of nature, or enjoy the city's modern amenities, there's a neighbourhood for you. Below is a comparison of various areas within Kyoto to help guide your decision:

Area Best For Pros Cons
Gion Culture, Nightlife Heart of traditional Kyoto, Geisha sightings. Can be pricey and crowded.
Kyoto Station Area Convenience, Accessibility Central transport hub, easy access to major sights. Lacks the traditional charm of other areas.
Arashiyama Nature, Scenic Beauty Serene landscapes, bamboo groves, close to nature. Far from the city centre, less nightlife.
Higashiyama Culture, History Near major temples and traditional streets. Accommodations can be expensive.
Downtown Kyoto (Kawaramachi/Shijo) Shopping, Modern Amenities Vibrant, modern part of Kyoto, great for shopping and dining. Can be busy, less traditional Japanese atmosphere.
Northern Kyoto (Kibune and Kurama) Retreat, Nature Quiet, scenic beauty, hot springs. Less convenient for sightseeing major landmarks.

Why Stay in Kyoto?

  • Cultural Heritage: Kyoto is Japan's cultural heart, home to countless temples, shrines, and UNESCO World Heritage sites. It's a must-visit for anyone interested in Japanese history and culture.
  • Seasonal Beauty: Kyoto is renowned for its stunning natural beauty, from cherry blossoms in spring to vibrant red leaves in autumn. Each season offers a different and unique experience.
  • Traditional Experiences: Kyoto offers many traditional Japanese experiences, from tea ceremonies and geisha performances to stays in ryokan (traditional inns).

Deciding Where to Stay in Kyoto

For Culture Enthusiasts: Gion

Gion is Kyoto's most famous geisha district, offering a glimpse into the city's traditional entertainment culture. It's ideal for those looking to experience old Kyoto, with its tea houses and wooden machiya houses.

Traditional Houses in Kyoto
Accommodation in Gion

For the Backpacker: Len Kyoto Kawaramachi - Offering a mix of modern style and traditional charm, this hostel is a favourite among young travellers. Located close to Gion, it's an excellent starting point for exploring Kyoto's historic districts and cultural sites.

For the Budget Traveller: APA Hotel Kyoto Gion Excellent - This hotel is well-placed in the heart of Gion, providing budget-friendly accommodation without sacrificing convenience or comfort. Guests can easily access Kyoto's famed temples and shrines from here.

For the Big Spender: Gion Hatanaka - Nestled in the historic Gion district, this luxury ryokan offers an authentic Japanese experience with its refined hospitality, exquisite kaiseki meals, and elegant rooms overlooking serene gardens. It's an ideal retreat for those seeking tranquillity and a deep dive into Japanese culture.

For Convenience Seekers: Kyoto Station Area

The area around Kyoto Station is perfect for travellers prioritising convenience. With numerous hotels, restaurants, and transport options, it serves as a great base for exploring Kyoto and beyond.

Accommodation in the Kyoto Station Area

For the Backpacker: Piece Hostel Kyoto - A modern and stylish hostel that offers a friendly and comfortable environment for travellers. It's located conveniently close to Kyoto Station, making it a perfect base for exploring the city.

For the Budget Traveller: Hotel Keihan Kyoto Grande - With its prime location adjacent to Kyoto Station, this hotel offers convenience and comfort at a reasonable price. It's ideal for guests looking to explore Kyoto's rich history and culture.

For the Big Spender: Hotel Granvia Kyoto - Occupying an ideal spot within Kyoto Station, this luxurious hotel is known for its elegant accommodations, top-notch facilities, and direct access to shopping and dining options. It's the epitome of convenience and luxury in the heart of Kyoto.

For Nature Lovers: Arashiyama

Arashiyama, located in the western part of the city, is renowned for its bamboo groves and the picturesque Togetsukyo Bridge. It's a tranquil haven for those wishing to escape the urban hustle and immerse themselves in nature.

Accommodation in Arashiyama

For the Backpacker: Guesthouse Arashiyama - A charming and affordable option for those wanting to stay close to nature and the scenic beauty of Arashiyama. It's a welcoming spot for travellers seeking a peaceful retreat after a day of exploring.

For the Budget Traveller: Rangetsu - This ryokan offers traditional Japanese accommodations at a reasonable price. Located near the famous bamboo groves and Togetsukyo Bridge, it's an ideal base for those wishing to immerse themselves in the natural and historical beauty of Arashiyama.

For the Big Spender: Hoshinoya Kyoto - This luxury ryokan, accessible only by boat, offers an exclusive retreat in a picturesque setting along the Oi River. Guests can enjoy traditional kaiseki meals, serene river views, and exquisite Japanese-style rooms, providing a unique and opulent experience in the heart of Arashiyama.

For History Buffs: Higashiyama

Higashiyama is home to some of Kyoto's most iconic temples, including Kiyomizu-dera and Yasaka-jinja Shrine. Its narrow lanes and traditional architecture make it a delightful area for those interested in the city's rich history.

Yasaka-jinja Shrine
Accommodation Around Higashiyama

For the Backpacker: K's House Kyoto - An ideal choice for backpackers, this hostel offers a friendly, international atmosphere with both private and dormitory-style rooms. Located in the heart of Kyoto, it's a great base for exploring Higashiyama and the city's historic sites.

For the Budget Traveller: Hotel Sunline Kyoto Gion Shijo - Situated in the Gion district, this hotel provides affordable comfort with easy access to Higashiyama's temples and Kyoto's traditional entertainment areas. It's perfect for those who want to experience the city's culture without breaking the bank.

For the Big Spender: The Celestine Kyoto Gion - This luxury 4-star hotel offers a tranquil escape in the historic Gion district. With meticulous attention to detail, elegant rooms, and top-tier amenities, guests can immerse themselves in the sophistication and charm of Kyoto's most prestigious area.

For Modern Comforts: Downtown Kyoto (Kawaramachi/Shijo)

Downtown Kyoto offers a mix of modernity with its shopping arcades, bars, and restaurants, making it a lively area to stay for those who enjoy the conveniences of city life.

Accommodation in Downtown Kyoto

For the Backpacker: Len Kyoto Kawaramachi - A hip, sociable hostel offering a unique blend of modern design and traditional Japanese elements. It's the perfect spot for backpackers looking for a central location, with easy access to nightlife, shopping, and cultural attractions.

For the Budget Traveller: Hotel Vista Premio Kyoto Kawaramachi - This hotel strikes a balance between affordability and convenience, located in the heart of Kyoto's bustling downtown area. Guests will appreciate the comfortable rooms and the proximity to major tourist spots and transport links.

For the Big Spender: The Royal Park Hotel Kyoto Sanjo - Offers luxury and elegance in a prime location. With its sophisticated decor, exceptional service, and amenities, this hotel is a haven of comfort amidst the vibrant energy of downtown Kyoto, ensuring a memorable stay for those willing to indulge.

For a Peaceful Retreat: Northern Kyoto (Kibune and Kurama)

For those seeking a serene getaway, the northern regions of Kibune and Kurama offer lush landscapes, hot springs, and the opportunity to stay in traditional ryokan inns.

Kifune-jinja Shrine
Accommodation in Kibune and Kurama

For the Backpacker: Kurama Onsen Ryokan - A traditional inn that provides a budget-friendly option for those looking to explore the serene and mystical areas of Kibune and Kurama. It offers both accommodation and day-use hot springs, perfect for backpackers seeking relaxation and adventure.

For the Budget Traveller: Kibune Hiroya - Nestled in the picturesque mountains of Kibune, this ryokan offers an affordable stay without compromising the traditional Japanese experience. Guests can enjoy the tranquil surroundings and kaiseki meals featuring local seasonal ingredients.

For the Big Spender: Kyoto Kibune Ugenta - An exclusive ryokan offering a luxurious retreat in the heart of nature. With just two rooms, it provides a highly personalised and private experience, including exquisite kaiseki cuisine and breathtaking views of the Kibune river, making it a perfect escape for those seeking peace and pampering.


Kyoto's diverse neighbourhoods each offer a unique perspective on this ancient city. Whether your interests lie in exploring historic sites, enjoying the natural beauty, or indulging in modern amenities, Kyoto welcomes you with options that cater to every preference. Consider what you wish to experience most in Kyoto, and choose a place to stay that will make your trip truly unforgettable.