Kyoto hotels with character in Japan’s mystical former capital

Whether you're wanting to see the cherry blossoms or to explore a more traditional city, these Kyoto hotels will have you embracing Japanese culture.

The best places to stay in Kyoto blend the old with the new in a timeless dance. You’ll find them in the beating heart of the city with incense-filled temples on every corner, or hidden in the hills so you can embrace the concept of shibui (peace and harmony with nature). Light up your social media with shots of rainbow-painted shrines, attend a geisha-led tea ceremony with kimono-clad hosts or learn about Japan’s ancient history at the Imperial Palace.

If you’re lucky enough to be in the magical city when the cherry blossom trees bloom, you’ll want to stop to admire the delicate pink flowers whether you’ve booked a state-of-the-art skyscraper or a traditional guesthouse where time stands still. Your accommodation will add to your Japanese experience, so look for features like intricate artisan-made furnishings, in-room cedar tubs fed by natural hot springs and peaceful gardens where you can zen out.

A Kyoto hotel dedicated to local craftsmanship


Villa Sanjo Muromachi Kyoto, in the belly of Kyoto’s captivating Old Town, its moodily lit spaces are filled with locally inspired touches everywhere you turn. Whether you’re sipping sake while poring over local guidebooks in the dark-walled lounge or eating breakfast from plates of the ancient Cochin pottery technique, this boutique hotel makes sure you do it in style.

Drop your bags in your luxurious space dressed in fabrics and furnishings made by homegrown artisans, including decorative karakami papers and textiles from the city’s Nishijin district. Take stock of the natural toiletries set out for you to try, all from Kyoto-based companies. You’ll want to draw a long bath in your luxury tub with a view of the gardens, then emerge clean and content to snuggle into goose-down bedding (also locally sourced) with a drip coffee or herbal tea.

You’ll feel a world away from modern life, but the villa’s less than a 30-minute walk from sights like Kennin-ji, one of the five most important Zen Buddhist temples in Kyoto. When you get hungry after an afternoon of spiritual awakenings, drop into Tenka Restaurant for a multi-course meal where tempura is taken seriously.

Villa Sanjo Muromachi Kyoto

9.6 Excellent (517 reviews)

A modern Kyoto hotel with direct airport access

Set inside Kyoto’s main train station complex, Hotel Granvia is one of the best places to stay in Kyoto if you’re keen to tick off the main sights. It’s easy to reach from the airport too, so it’s ideal for a whirlwind weekend away and is ultra striking to boot. Art lovers will get a thrill from the gallery showcasing a staggering 1,000 pieces of modern art, or if you’re just keen to relax you can do so at the hotel’s own indoor pool and steam rooms.

In your sleek, dark-toned room, freshen up in style with decadent toiletries by Japan’s sought-after Hahonico brand. Pour yourself an in-room drink and settle in front of the window with a complimentary newspaper – you can choose from a view of nearby Kyoto Tower or the shinkansen (bullet trains) as the backdrop to your stay.

When dinnertime arrives, you’ll have 11 restaurants and bars to choose from. If it’s a special occasion, dine in private in one of the traditional tatami rooms styled after a Kyoto teahouse. You’ll feel yourself salivate reading the menu of distinctive Japanese dishes like steaming pufferfish hot pot livened up by a tangy ponzu citrus soy sauce, or meaty turtle soup served in a clay pot.

Hotel Granvia Kyoto

Top rated
9.4 Excellent (2104 reviews)

A blend of East and West at a Kyoto hotel


The Hyatt Regency Kyoto masterfully blends Eastern and Western culture. Order an English afternoon tea infused with local touches like Kyoto-based Housendo Bakery’s azuki red-bean pastries. Nibble on delicacies while taking in views of the manicured Japanese gardens surrounding the hotel. The on-site spa is influenced by global and local practices, too, with treatments ranging from shiatsu massage to aromatherapy to acupuncture.

For an introduction to one of Kyoto’s age-old customs, the hotel holds daily dance performances by maiko (apprentice geisha), who’ll stick around for photos after the show. When the music fades, school yourself on the country’s history by browsing the pre-modern Japanese artifacts at the Kyoto National Museum, a couple of minutes’ walk from the Hyatt.

Rooms are contemporary but offer glimpses of ancient Japan through details like washi paper fittings and wall tapestries made from patterned kimono materials. The beds are low to the ground and the tubs are deep, and you’ll feel like royalty preparing for bed in your sleek granite ensuite.

Hyatt Regency Kyoto

Top rated
9.2 Excellent (2249 reviews)

A personalised Kyoto hotel for custom stays


If you’re deciding where to stay in Kyoto, Kyoto Inn Gion is less than one minute by foot from Gion-Shijo and Pontocho stations so it’s ideal for exploring the city sights by subway. It’s also a five-minute walk from the Yasaka Shrine, an Instagram-famous site painted in a shock of photo-op-friendly colours. Get there early to take it all in minus the crowds, plus you’ll be treated to a whole other host of colours skyward at sunrise.

In your charming budget accommodation, you can wander through the pale blue and scarlet courtyard lined in traditional parasols. Feel the vestiges of feudal Japan in your room bedecked in display kimonos, paper parasols and natural watercolour scenes. After an easy night’s rest in plush white bedding trimmed in autumn-toned silks, take in a leisurely continental breakfast.

The decor references the fact that Gion, where the hotel rests, is Kyoto’s ‘geisha area’. For a chance to see the world-renowned hostesses in all their finery, head to the wooden Tatsumi Bridge or the high-end restaurants and shops of Hanamikoji Street. Celebrate a sighting at Premium Pound Gion, where the Kobe beef steak (reared in Japan of course) is beautifully marbled for a mouthwatering experience.

Kyoto Inn Gion


Modern living meets tradition at this Kyoto hotel

Kanra Kyoto is a conceptual hotel that gives Japanese customs a contemporary twist. It’s constructed of materials associated with typical machiya (old Kyoto townhouses) – like wood, stone and iron – but modernised with minimalist décor and clean lines. In your softly lit double room, you can stretch from tippy-toes to fingertips on extra-long beds dressed in white and gold. You’ll be eager to try out your cypress-wood tub – just the place to relax in a hot bath before treatment in the on-site spa.

Enter the stripped-back spa space – an award-winning one to boot – and browse the menu of Japanese therapies. For something to really lock in the Kyoto accommodation feeling, opt for a soothing cherry blossom and rice facial. Local ingredients are also a focal point at Hanaroku, one of the hotel’s two on-site restaurants. Sit bar-style with a direct view of the chefs searing juicy Wagyu steaks while you sip on delicate cups of hot sake.

For a post-dinner sugar fix, you can drop by the café lounge for delicate Japanese sweets. There’s also a boutique with curated trinkets from across the country should you be in the mood for a souvenir, as well as a pottery repair studio where you can watch specialists at work for a bit of local culture.

Hotel Kanra Kyoto

Top rated
9.6 Excellent (2066 reviews)

A budget Kyoto hotel with on-site onsens

Sakura Terrace The Gallery‘s excellent location – just across the street from Kyoto Station – isn’t the only thing this hotel’s got going for it. It’s in a cutting-edge cubic-inspired structure with its own onsen (hot spring) for guests to use. Slip into your provided robe and slippers and pay a visit to the gender-separated sauna facilities where you’ll find the coveted hot baths.

You can drop by reception every night for a free soft or alcoholic drink, a small taste of that renowned Japanese hospitality. Or you can bring a book to the charming wood-lined café that serves unlimited free tea and coffee throughout the day, best sipped on the pretty little adjoining patio. When you’re ready for something heartier, the on-site dinner restaurant plates up succulent steaks and velvety lobster with cream.

Rooms are in the North and South wings of the hotel and split into two themes: Standard x Simple for guests who’ll be spending their time out and about; and Luxury x Relax if you want to stay in and indulge. The indulgent option is bigger and brighter, and you’ll have a breeze-kissed balcony to sit on while you plan your trip to popular Kyoto attractions like Fushimi Inari Taisha, the vivid orange shrine that’s a 35-minute walk away.

Sakura Terrace The Gallery

Top rated
9.2 Excellent (2030 reviews)

A Kyoto hotel in the cherry blossom-filled Arashiyama Hills

A 20-minute stroll from the swaying Sagano Bamboo Forest, Suiran, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Kyoto makes its home in the Arashiyama Hills. This area becomes one of the city’s most popular in springtime when the candy floss-hued cherry blossoms unfurl, usually around early April. You’ll also be near Iwatayama, where you can see the region’s only snow monkeys.

Reserve a room with its own spring-fed pool made of fragrant cedar wood, and you’ll watch the cherry blossoms dance on the breeze from your hot bath on your private terrace overlooking the forest. Inside, bask in the modern yet still traditional vibes set by black lacquer furniture and tatami flooring. Or trade your house slippers for a romantic wander ’round idyllic grounds.

Set in a restored private residence from the Meiji era, you’ll step beneath hand-carved tiled gates flanked by twisting red maples. Come dinnertime, you can feast on traditional Japanese dishes presented with a French twist. For dining with a view, laidback café Saryo Hassui sits on the jewel-green Katsuma River and is a scenic spot for a pre-dinner sake.

Suiran, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Kyoto

9.0 Excellent (285 reviews)

A Kyoto hotel right by modern conveniences


You’ll find the Royal Park Hotel Kyoto Sanjo scraping the sky near the bustling Nishiki Market. You’ll be hard pressed not to crawl straight into your cushy cream-coloured bed with its deluxe branded mattress the moment you’ve checked in. In larger rooms, settle into serene spaces flanked in rich woods or slip into your plush robe to run yourself a foamy bubble bath. Upgrade to a Premium option and you’ll get to savour a decadent breakfast buffet at Monsieur Itoh, the on-site restaurant, as well as access to a private lounge with a complimentary drink each night. For another tipple, head down to the hotel bar, an atmospheric hideaway frequented by locals and guests alike.

The hotel is central enough to walk to many of Kyoto’s attractions, and it’s only a couple of minutes away from two subway stations. Kyoto Gyoen National Garden, where you can see the celebrated cherry blossoms, is an 18-minute stroll, while the magnificent Kyoto Imperial Palace is less than a half hour’s walk. You’ll find lunch at Tousuiro, a specialty tofu restaurant in a 130-year–old merchant house, just 3 minutes by foot from the hotel. Silky soup’s their specialty, but you’ll want to try the tofu ice cream too. Afterwards, hop on public transport for 45 minutes to reach Kinkaku-ji, a shimmering golden temple that looks especially magical when hit by the newly risen sun. Even better, visit in early April to see the temple dusted with delicate pink sakura petals.

The Royal Park Kyoto Sanjo

Top rated
9.2 Excellent (2189 reviews)

This story first featured in trivago Magazine SG