Kyoto Ryokan

Ryokan Izuyasu Kyoto

Are you in a hurry? Scroll down for our best Ryokan picks by price range, otherwise read the following sections for an introduction to Kyoto Ryokan.

Best luxury Kyoto Ryokan for families

For a truly Japanese experience, it’s worth spending a night or two in a luxury Ryokan. These places look like the Ryokan of your imagination: traditional wooden buildings, beautifully decorated rooms, lovely wooden baths, and gorgeous gardens. And they have the service and food to match.

What is a Ryokan?

In simple terms, a Ryokan is a traditional Japanese inn. That means the room and sometimes the entire building is in Japanese style, so you sleep on futons on tatami mat floors. A Ryokan usually includes a meal in the price, but at some places, you can choose to have only breakfast or no meals at all. In beautiful locations, your meals are served in your room, which is a great experience. In the past, Ryokan only had communal bathtubs, but nowadays, many Ryokan have private bathtubs and bathrooms.

You have probably seen pictures of Ryokan. These are usually pictures of luxury high-end Ryokan, which are traditional wooden buildings with beautiful gardens. Kyoto’s luxury high-end Ryokan are great examples of such Ryokan. However, most budget Ryokan are built in modern buildings that look like hotels from the outside: only the service and rooms are traditionally Japanese.

How do you stay in a Ryokan?

Staying in a ryokan is a bit different from staying in a hotel. First, you take off your shoes in the lobby. Then, you are escorted to your room where you are served a cup of tea and a traditional sweet or cracker. If it is already evening, you put on a yukata (light robe) that the ryokan provides. At a nice place, dinner is served in your room, otherwise you dine in a common area with other guests or at a restaurant. After dinner, you take a bath in your private bathroom. While you are bathing, a maid will make up your futons.

Of course, many cheaper and more modern places may skip some or all of these steps, and your stay will be very similar to staying in a hotel – the only difference being the futons and tatami mats instead of beds.


How much does it cost to stay in a Ryokan?

Sometimes people are surprised by the rates at a Ryokan which may seem higher at first glance than hotels. It is important to keep in mind that Ryokan rates are often listed per person rather than per room. However, before concluding that a Ryokan is expensive, it is worth noting that Ryokan rates typically include one or two meals, which are often elaborate Kaiseki meals. When you consider what two good meals would cost in restaurants, the cost of a Ryokan often becomes reasonable. As a guide, here’s how we categorize Ryokan by cost:

budget: less than Y10,000 (€100) per person
mid-budget: between Y10,000 and Y20,000 (€100-200) per person
luxury: more than Y20,000 (€200) per person

How many nights should you stay in a Ryokan?

Staying at a Ryokan is a bit more formal and complex than staying at a hotel. It’s a bit like staying in the home of a very highly esteemed friend. But make no mistake: you should definitely try to stay in a Ryokan. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime Japanese experience. And if you think about it, it’s a very rare experience because traditional accommodations are disappearing in Asia. Other than yurts in Mongolia, there really are no traditional stays left, only standard hotels that are the same everywhere in the world. So a Ryokan is truly special.

I usually recommend staying in a Ryokan for one or two nights at the beginning of your stay in Kyoto, and then moving to a hotel to enjoy the freedom and convenience of a hotel stay. For some recommended hotels, see our Kyoto Hotels page.

Kyoto’s best luxury Ryokan

Kyoto is home to some of the best luxury Ryokan in Japan, offering the ultimate Ryokan experience with beautiful traditional wooden buildings, private gardens, luxurious Kaiseki meals, and legendary Kyoto hospitality. Visit our page on Best Luxury Ryokan in Kyoto for more information and our top recommendations.

Kyoto’s best mid-range Ryokan

Even at budget prices, you can still enjoy a great Ryokan experience. The choices range from modern hotel-style Ryokan to traditional wooden Ryokan. Visit our page on the best mid-range Ryokan in Kyoto for our top picks.

Kyoto’s best cheap Ryokan

There are a number of fantastic budget Ryokan in Kyoto. Check out our page on Best Budget Ryokan in Kyoto for our top picks.

Kyoto’s best Ryokan for families

Ryokan is a great choice for families because you can all sleep in the same room. And in some cases, you can all dine in your room, so you don’t have to worry about children misbehaving in a restaurant. For our top picks for family-friendly Ryokan, visit our page Best Kyoto Ryokan for Families.


Nishiyama Ryokan Kyoto



Learn more about Ryokan in Kyoto:

Best High-End Ryokan in Kyoto

Best mid-range Ryokan in Kyoto

Best budget Ryokan in Kyoto