Millions of people swarm into Kyoto every year to experience the rest and relaxation associated with one of the most culturally-rich cities in all of Japan. If you’re looking for a few days to disconnect, unwind, and recharge, then organising a stay at one of the many traditional Japanese inns, known as ryokans, in Kyoto is one of the best things you can do for yourself.
Ryokans date back to more than 1000 years ago, however, whilst they were initially created as a basic accommodation option for travellers traversing the long roads through Japan, these days, new ones have been built with aesthetic, tourism, and luxury in mind, whilst many older ones have been spruced up to meet the demands of visitors.
These days, you will likely encounter various types of ryokans throughout the country, however, as Kyoto has one of the highest concentrations of these inns in all of Japan, you can bet that some of the most stunning luxury ryokan options will be located here.
Below we’ve listed the 12 best luxury ryokan in Kyoto you should book!
1. Japanese Ryokan Seryo
For travellers looking to enjoy some tranquillity in Japan’s nature, look no further than Seryo. It’s conveniently only a few minutes away from a bus station, which means that you’ll be surrounded by peace and quiet, and luscious greenery to ease the mind.
It boasts a beautiful Japanese landscaped garden that’s maintained throughout the year (fabulously, we might add), and is located close to many temples that make for lovely day visits. There is an indoor and outdoor public bath, and Seryo also offers a premium Kaiseki dinner.
Guest Tips: Highly recommend the dinner and breakfast here; the meals were as authentic as they get. It’s only around 50-minutes from Kyoto station, but feels worlds away.
Book It Here: Japanese Ryokan Seryo
2. Seikoro Ryokan
Seikoro Ryokan takes pride in the fact that it’s one of the best-selling ryokans in all of Kyoto. It’s located close to Kyoto City (only a 7-minute drive from JR Kyoto Station), and is within walking and driving distance to major attractions such as the Sanjusangen-do Temple, Kiyomizu-dera Temple, and Kyoto National Museum.
The interior of the ryokan is absolutely stunning, boasting clean-cut wooden walls, tatami mat flooring, and gorgeous framework. A lot of love has been placed into decorating the place to feel as authentic as something out of historic Japan.
Guest Tips: If you’re looking to explore Kyoto, this is the perfect place to base yourself. It’s located only streets away from the hustle and bustle of the city, and yet you’ll sleep like a baby. If you have time, book the massage, one of the best you’ll experience.
Book It Here: Seikoro Ryokan
3. Nanzenji sando KIKUSUI
For something slightly more modern and upper-class, Nanzenji sando KIKUSUI is the way to go. This ryokan offers a fantastic Japanese inn experience whilst bending slightly to maximise comfort and ambience.
Onsite, there is a restaurant, a bar, a shared lounge, and a gorgeous Japanese garden. One of the best things about this ryokan is the wide-open windows that offer a view of the surrounding greenery that just invites you to sit down and relax.
Guest Tips: The ryokan actually only offers 5 rooms for guests, so you know you’ll be receiving maximum attention. There are free drinks and tea offered in the rooms which you can make use of. The dinner, whilst expensive, was worth every penny.
Book It Here: Nanzenji sando KIKUSUI
4. Nazuna Kyoto Nijo-jo (Cha no Yado)
This well-maintained ryokan will have you breathing in a breath of fresh air the moment you step foot in it. It offers two styles of rooms, one completely traditional Japanese room completely with tatami mat flooring and futon beds, and the other is a slightly modernised western-style room with wooden flooring and raised-platform bedding.
However, the luxury factor is not lost in either. The open-air onsen offered in the guestrooms are a dream, and make for an awesome Instagram photo!
Guest Tips: Whilst there is no dinner onsite, the breakfast is incredible so don’t miss out! The guestrooms, whilst only meant for 2, have enough space to fit up to 4 people! Everything about the ryokan is just chic. Great little quiet neighbourhood that offers ample convenient transport methods to and from places.
Book It Here: Nazuna Kyoto Nijo-jo
5. Nazuna Kyoto Gosho
Nazuna Kyoto Gosho actually looks like something out of a magazine. It’s located right in the heart of Kyoto, and whilst this may be a deal-breaker for some, know that staying here will be like you’re staying out at an oasis in the mountains (and not within a city housing millions of people in its population!).
The rooms are actually huge, with ample space to just chill out and recharge indoors if you have to, but with the views offered by the ryokan, no one’s complaining.
The spa bath offered by the ryokan is a luxury at worst, and magical at best. Being surrounded by attractions such as Mikane Shrine, Kyoto International Manga Museum, Goou Shrine, Nijo Castle, and the Kyoto Imperial Palace, you’ll be torn daily as to whether to stay in and just appreciate the ryokan or go out to explore the city.
Guest Tips: Take advantage of the private Kura bath, and book in a massage – it’ll be worth it. From the welcome tea, drinks, and various other complimentary snacks (note: ice cream!), everything for a beyond-comfortable stay has been thought of, and the live breakfast preparation is just the icing on the cake.
Book It Here: Nazuna Kyoto Gosho
By the way, you also need to know that there are many special rules to know before to stay at a Ryokan so if you are not familiar with them, feel free to check them out here: Ryokan Etiquette.
For one of the most intimate luxurious ryokan stays, look no further than Mitsuki Kyoto. This former Kyoto cuisine restaurant-turned ryokan offers only two private rooms, making it extremely lucrative and therefore patrons would need to book well in advance to secure a spot.
All rooms have been carefully decorated with authentic Japanese artworks and furnished with only the most authentic and quality furniture.
The location of Mitsuki Kyoto, whilst only a few stops and within walking distance to many attractions, boasts a relatively localised population without the major tourist crowds and offers many independently run stores, cafes and restaurants nearby where you can immerse yourself.
Guest Tips: The ryokan was a tasteful balance between old and traditional and new and modern without compromising on quality or experience. Yoko, the host, has been praised by all patrons as being one of the most hospitable people you’ll come across.
Book It Here: Mitsuki Kyoto
7. Kibune Fujiya
Kibune Fujiya is a ryokan that’s located outside of the city centre, set amongst the gorgeous mountains and forests in Kyoto. For those who are serious about unplugging from the world a bit, this is a wonderful option.
It offers a respite from crowds and technology, instead replacing the fast-paced lifestyle normally associated with Japanese cities with dining amongst a stream, undisturbed views of forests and rivers, and utter peace and tranquillity. Its stunning architecture within retains the charm of olden-day Japan is a sight for sore eyes.
Book It Here: Kibune Fujiya
8. Kyomachiya Hotel Mifuku
For those who have Kiyomizudera high on their list, this gorgeous ryokan is located only minutes away. Offering both Japanese style and western style rooms, with all rooms boasting serious natural lighting, private bathrooms, free toiletries, and free Wi-Fi, this place just will not disappoint.
It’s just outside the city centre to feel like you’ve escaped it all, but close enough so that you won’t feel inconvenienced. It’s the perfect location for those interested in exploring ancient landmarks and stunning traditional architecture.
Guest Tips: It has the look and feel of a cosy, intimate luxurious stay. Whilst not as big as other ryokans on the list, the rooms offer an ambience that just (peacefully) forces you to unwind in the best way.
Book It Here: Kyomachiya Hotel Mifuku
9. Gion Hatanaka
Gion is arguable one of the most popular districts in Kyoto for tourists to visit (mainly due to the fact that it is the city’s unofficial capital of Geisha), so why not knock two birds with one stone and reserve your ryokan stay right in Gion at the Gion Hatanaka? You get a gorgeous, luxurious traditional Japanese inn experience right in the midst of one of the most picturesque, historic towns in all of Japan.
Gion Hatanaka boasts a gorgeous Zen Japanese garden onsite, an in-room Kaiseki dining experience, and the convenience of being located only minutes away from famous attractions such as Yasaka Shrine and Kiyomizu-dera Temple.
Not only that, but if you organise your stay well in advance, you might even be able to book in an exclusive Japanese Geisha dance performance through the hotel, and everyone knows just how lucrative these opportunities are!
Guest Tips: The spot was absolutely perfect for accessing all the main areas of Gion that people would normally visit. If you can, please try to lock in a Geisha and/or Maiko performance as early as possible, as it’s so worth the efforts.
Book It Here: Gion Hatanaka
10. Muromachi Yutone Kyokoyado
Luxurious charm meets genuine authenticity at Muromachi Yutone Kyokoyado, where one step into this ryokan will transport you to Japan’s history thousands of years before. Cobblestone, sturdy timber framework and ambient lighting make this much more than just an accommodation – it’s an experience.
Its excellent location means that you won’t have to travel excessively to visit major attractions in Kyoto, including the Kyoto International Manga Museum, Kiyomizu-dera temple, Sanjusangen-do Temple, Nijo Castle, and the Kyoto Imperial Palace amongst other places.
Guest Tips: This ryokan is perfectly located within walking distance to markets, temples, and great shopping options. It’s not as large and grand as other luxury ryokans, but the excellent use of space and decor here make the stay more comfortable and intimate.
Book It Here: Muromachi Yutone Kyokotado
11. Yuzuya Ryokan
Luxury ryokan options are endless in Kyoto, which is undeniably the Olden Era capital of Japan. However, Yuzuya Ryokan takes the cake as one of the premiere ryokans in Kyoto and offers a five-star experience unlike any other.
From a mile away, you’d be able to pick up the scent of Yuzuya Ryokan. True to its name, the scent of citrus is a leading characteristic here, but gently so. Japanese citron is present in all the onsen baths here; a welcome addition for an even more relaxing bathing experience.
Yuzuya Ryokan’s location is also no small feat. Located in the middle of the famous Gion district of Kyoto, this ryokan oozes exclusivity in an area full of wonders.
Guestrooms are accented by traditional classic pieces of furnishings and wildflower arrangements. Tatami floors and futon bedding can be enjoyed by all guests.
At a world-class restaurant, you’d be expecting everything to be excellent quality, and at Yuzuya Ryokan, it is. From luscious traditional Japanese meals served at the in-house restaurant, Isshinkyo Restaurant, to its location mere steps away from the must-visit Yasaka Shrine, this ryokan cuts absolutely no corners.
Book It Now: Yuzuya Ryokan
12. Yadoya Kikokuso
For a homely experience unlike any other, we highly recommend the quaint yet charming Yagoya Kikokuso. This cozy ryokan exudes a friendly, warm, and inviting family-like atmosphere, primarily supported by the exceptional husband and wife team.
It features everything you need for a comfortable, stay, including fluffy futon bedding, flat-screen TVs, sitting areas, and free toiletries. Additional features include the public onsen baths, cozy common area, stunning display of Japanese artistry through their kaiseki meals, and their gorgeous Japanese garden surrounding the ryokan.
Guest Tips: Grab a seat where you can view the garden whilst dining, it’s worth it for the tranquil and serene dining experience. If you’re looking for local gems, ask the husband-and-wife team and they’ll be able to point you to the best spots.
Book It Now: Yadoya Kikokuso
As you can see, amongst the hundreds and hundreds of ryokan options available in Kyoto, there are a handful that are a cut above the rest and are perfect for those looking for a premium, memorable and comfortable stay.
Experience a ryokan is quite unlike anything most people have come across before, from the intimate and personalised attentiveness of the hosts, to the carefully curated and prepared Japanese meals, staying in a ryokan will likely exceed your expectations in every way.
If this is your first time, and possibly only time, staying in a ryokan, why not just opt for one of the best?
If you are looking for more accommodation options in Kyoto, we also listed 4 beautiful Ryokan in Arashiyama.
If you love Japanese hot springs, make sure you read our last post about the best onsen towns near Kyoto.
And for more sophisticated accommodation in Japan, take a look at our top 15 most beautiful luxury hotels in Okinawa.