Where to Stay in Kyoto – Neighborhoods & Area Guide

The former capital of Japan for over a thousand years, Kyoto is arguably the most beautiful city in the country. Tucked within the Western Honshu mountains, the city is steeped in history, culture, architecture, and authentic Japanese traditions. One of the only few cities to have escaped World War II bombing, Kyoto still houses a large number of pre-war buildings and traditional townhouses.

Even though modernization has been taking over Kyoto’s traditional architecture for some time, the city still remains home to several century-old Japanese shrines and temples and of course, the famous geisha district. A fine embodiment of Japanese aesthetic concept of “wabi-sabi,” implying the art of finding beauty in perfections, Kyoto happens to comprise one of the largest collections of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the world, including Kinkaku-ji Temple and Nijo-jo Castle.

Let us now explore some of the most popular neighborhoods in the city so you can decide where to stay in Kyoto during your visit.

Downtown/Nakagyo Ward/City Center

Downtown Kyoto

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Downtown Kyoto

One of the most vibrant shopping and dining districts in Kyoto, the downtown neighborhood is swarmed with fashion brands, department stores, and restaurants for all budgets and styles. Home to the largest and the best-preserved castle in the city, Nijo castle, the neighborhood is a perfect example of old meets new. Shijō Street, best discovered on foot, is a paradise for shopaholics and for souvenir shoppers. Pontochō Geisha District, a narrow lane perched along the Kamogawa River, is one of the five Kyoto flower towns (aka hanamachi) where the famed geisha ply their trade. The area is also known for its mix of exclusive restaurants and lively bars.

Good for: All kinds of travelers.
Other Highlights: The Museum of Kyoto, Honnoji Temple Marker, Nishiki Market, Kyoto International Manga Museum, Mibudera Temple, and Nijo Park.

Hotel Recommendations:

  • Hotel Gracery Kyoto Sanjo – Within a short walking distance from the famous shopping streets of Shijo Dori and Kiyomizo-dera Temple, this elegant hotel features rooms with a sophisticated décor and modern facilities. Guests can make use of the free luggage storage facility available at the 24-hour front desk and coin-operated laundry machines. Business travelers can utilize the business center. An optional breakfast is available daily. Suitable for all kinds of travelers.
  • The Royal Park Hotel Kyoto Sanjo – A stone’s throw away from Kyoto Shiyakusho-mae Subway Station, the Royal Park Hotel Kyoto Sanjo features well-appointed guestrooms with cozy beds, flat-screen TV, safety deposit box, free Wi-Fi, and private bathroom with free toiletries. Guests can enjoy exclusive meals and drinks at the on-site bar and restaurant. Additional facilities include luggage storage, a 24-hour front desk, coin launderette, and snacks and drinks vending machine. Great for all kinds of travelers.
  • Hotel M’s Plus Shijo Omiya – Featuring complimentary Wi-Fi access throughout the property, a 24-hour front desk, and laundry facilities, this stylish property features comfortable guestrooms with amenities such as air-conditioning, safety deposit box, seating area, electric kettle, and ensuite bathroom with free toiletries. A complimentary breakfast is served daily. Perfect for all kinds of travelers.

Gion

Gion, Kyoto

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Gion, Kyoto

The most prominent geisha district in Kyoto, Gion is located between Yasaka Shrine and Kamogawa River and is filled with shops, restaurants, and traditional tea houses (ochaya) where one can easily spot a geisha and maiko performing their acts to entertain onlookers. Hanami-koji Street, the most famous area in Gion neighborhood, is known for its well-preserved machiya houses, many of which now operate as restaurants serving Japanese haute cuisine and other international dishes. Shirakawa Area, another popular area, is home of the Shirakawa Canal – dotted with willow trees and upscale ochayas and restaurants, some of which also offer lodging overlooking the canal. If you are here in July, don’t miss experiencing Gion Matsuri, the most famous festival in Japan.

Good for: All kinds of travelers.
Other Highlights:
Kenninji Temple, Tatsumi Bridge, Hanamikoji Street, Maruyama Park, and Gion Corner.

Hotel Recommendations:

  • Hotel Grand Bach Kyoto Select – A 5 minutes’ walk from Kawaramachi Train Station, this elegant hotel offers luxurious accommodation with state-of-the-art facilities. Guests staying here can enjoy complimentary Wi-Fi. Laundry facilities, and luggage storage. The in-house restaurant serves delectable Japanese and Western dishes. A complimentary breakfast is included in selected room tariffs. Suitable for solo travelers and couples.
  • Orient Gojozaka – Guest House In Kyoto Boasting well-furnished studio rooms with newest amenities, Orient Gojozaka – Guest House in Kyoto is a gentle stroll away from the magnificent Kiyomizu-dera Temple. Offering TV, washing machine, kitchenette, and high-tech bathrooms to the guests, the property also offers easy access to Kiyomizu-Gojo Station. Great for all kinds of travelers.
  • Hotel M’s Est Shijo Karasuma – A minutes’ walking distance from Shijo Subway Station, this modernistic property offers thoughtfully-designed guestrooms with facilities such as AC, flat-screen TV, electric kettle, free Wi-Fi, and private bathroom. A 24-hour front desk is available to welcome and assist guests at any time of the day. Long-term travelers can make use of the laundry facility at the hotel. Perfect for solo travelers and couples.

Kyoto Station Area/Shimogyo

Kyoto Station

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Kyoto Station

The most significant transportation hub of Japan’s former capital, Kyoto Station is undeniably regarded as one of the biggest railway stations in the world and its massive glass structure is also considered as one of the largest buildings in the country. Rebuilt after the old structure burnt down in 1952, the station building comprises several museums, a shopping mall, a movie theater, Isetan department store, a game center, and a hotel. Shimogyo, the southern ward of Kyoto, stretches from Kyoto Station to Shijo Dori Avenue and is home to several hotels, restaurants, and tourist businesses. Kyoto Station is, of course, the primary attraction in the area. With its intriguing architecture, multiple tourist businesses, and an impressive connectivity to the rest of the country, Kyoto Station area is a great choice for both local and international travelers.

Good for: All kinds of travelers.
Other Highlights:
Kyoto Aquarium, Kyoto Tower, Rokusonnō Shrine, Sumiya Motenashi Museum, Ichihime Shrine, and Bukkoji Shrine.

Hotel Recommendations:

  • Karatachi Nanajo Ainomachi – Japan Hotels – Set in the heart of Kyoto’s famous Shimogyo area, this contemporary budget hotel features well-furnished twin rooms with facilities such as free Wi-Fi, electric kettle, kitchenette, and private bathroom. Guests can enjoy dining at one of the many restaurants that surround the property. A convenience store is located a couple of minutes away and Nishi Honganji Temple is a 15 minutes’ gentle walk from the hotel. Great for all kinds of travelers.
  • Hotel Grand Bach Kyoto Select – Featuring modern standard and Japanese style guestrooms with brilliant facilities, Hotel Grand Bach Kyoto Select offers easy access to several important attractions in the city, including Kiyomizu Temple and Nijo Castle. Guests can head straight to the public baths to refresh themselves after they check in. A healthy complimentary breakfast is served daily. Suitable for solo travelers and couples.
  • Kaede Guesthouse – With facilities such as communal lounge area, bicycle rentals, BBQ facilities, and a shared kitchen space, Kaede Guesthouse offers simple yet well-equipped guestrooms within a short walking distance from Shijo Subway Station. Long-term travelers can make use of the coin-operated laundry facility or the free luggage storage while they explore beyond the city boundaries. Perfect for all kinds of travelers, including big groups of up to 8 members.

Central Kyoto

Shijo Dori

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Shijo Dori

Home to Kyoto’s primary shopping and nightlife districts, Central Kyoto lays west of Kamogawa River and north of Shimogyo neighborhood. The streets of Kawaramachi Dori and Shijo Dori are literally covered with shopping arcades and entertainment avenues. Kyoto’s most legendary craft stores can be found around this neighborhood as well. Home of the iconic Nijo Castle, Central Kyoto has its share of exclusive ryokans hidden away in charming yet typical old Kyoto neighborhoods. Surprisingly, downtown neighborhood, although often considered separate, is a part of Central Kyoto. Kyoto International Manga Museum, housed in a former elementary school, is a primary attraction in the area. One of the districts in central Kyoto, Nakagyo-ku is one of the most sought-after areas to stay.

Good for: All kinds of travelers.
Other Highlights:
Honmaru Garden, Nijo Park, Pontocho district, Higashi Honganji, Nishi Honganji, Nishiki Market, Kyoto Imperial Palace, and Kyoto Imperial Palace Park.

Hotel Recommendations:

  • Kyoyado Usagi – Located right next to the distinguished Nijo Castle, this mind-blowing luxury property features lavish Japanese-style townhouses and suites fitted with state-of-the-art facilities such as spa bath, free Wi-Fi, washing machine, microwave, safety deposit lockers, kitchenware, and a digitized security system. Guests traveling on private vehicles can use the free parking facility. Great for all kinds of travelers.
  • Japaning Hotel Nijojo Minami – Featuring complimentary Wi-Fi, luggage storage facility, a free shuttle bus service to famous spots in the city, and kimono rental facilities, Japaning Hotel Nijojo Minami features modern-day accommodation units with free Wi-Fi, kitchenette, private bathroom with free toiletries, and flat-screen TV. A free smartphone with internet and apps to get information about Kyoto is available in every room. Suitable for all kinds of travelers.
  • Kyoto Uraraka Guest House – A pleasant stroll away from the prominent Nijo Castle, this charming guesthouse features wonderfully-decorated rooms with air-conditioning, a flat-screen TV, a work space, refrigerator, and private bathroom. Guests can make use of the bicycle rental and coin laundry facilities available on site. A fresh breakfast is served daily. Great for all kinds of travelers.

Higashiyama

Higashiyama District

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Higashiyama

Nestled along the slopes of the eastern mountains of Kyoto, Higashiyama is one of the best preserved historic neighborhoods in the city. The narrow lanes between Yasaka Shrine and Kiyomizudera are dotted with wooden structures and traditional merchant stores invoking a feeling of traditional Japan among visitors. Small shops, charming cafes, and well-decorated restaurants line the street sides and caters to tourists as well as pilgrims who arrive here hoping to visit Kiyomizudera Temple, one of the most revered temples in Japan. Tourists can shop for exclusive Kiyomizu-yaki pottery items and souvenirs at the mini shops in the area. Come during the 10-day long Hanatoro festival in March and the streets here will be illuminated with lanterns – Togetsukyo Bridge is the most iconic spot to experience the glittering phenomenon.

Good for: All kinds of travelers.
Other Highlights:
Tofuku-ji Temple, Kodai-ji, Sanjusangen-do, Maruyama Park, Yasaka Shrine, Heian Shrine, and Yasaka Pagoda.

Hotel Recommendations:

  • Rinn Shichijo Ohashi Bridge – Boasting well-furnished, modern guestrooms with a flat-screen TV, kitchenware, microwave, private bathroom, and free Wi-Fi, this pleasant property is within a short distance from several important tourist attractions in the city, including Kiyomizu-dera Temple and Rinn Shichijo Ohashi Bridge. Great for solo travelers and couples.
  • Kyoto Granbell Hotel – A short walk from Gion-Shijo Subway Station, this fascinating property combines modern architecture with traditional Japanese design. Luxury facilities at the hotel include but are not limited to state-of-the-art guestrooms, a public bath that overlooks a Japanese garden, complimentary Wi-Fi, 24-hour front desk, an on-site restaurant and bar serving Japanese as well as Western delicacies, and an extraordinary buffet breakfast. Suitable for all kinds of luxury travelers.
  • M’s Inn Higashiyama – Within close proximity of Gion Shijo Station and Kiyomizu Gojo Station, M’s Inn Higashiyama features brightly-colored, spacious guestrooms fitted with modern furnishings such as a washing machine, soundproofing, kitchenette, microwave, and free Wi-Fi. Some of the rooms come with additional futon beds and seating area. Kyoto International Manga Museum is a couple of kilometers from the property. Perfect for all kinds of travelers, including big groups of up to 5 members.

Arashiyama

Arashiyama Park, Kyoto

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Arashiyama Park, Kyoto

An amusing, touristy neighborhood in the western region of Kyoto, Arashiyama is particularly spectacular during the fall season and the famous cherry blossom season of Japan. A popular area since the Heian Period, Arashiyama’s Togetsukyo Bridge is an extremely famous landmark in the city. Explore the neighborhood on foot or take a calm boat ride on the Hozu River, either way, the neighborhood is a paradise for visitors. If you prefer something less touristy, head to the northern area of Arashiyama. Less crowded and more rural, the area is speckled with small Japanese temples along the wooded mountains. Renting a bicycle and biking around the neighborhood is perhaps one of the easiest and most enjoyable ways to explore this part of Arashiyama. Saga-Toriimoto Preserved Street, near Adashino Nenbutsuji Temple, is a magnificent preserved town that remains mostly as it was during Meiji Period.

Good for: All kinds of travelers.
Other Highlights:
Monkey Park, Tenryuji Temple, Bamboo Groves, Jojakkoji, Gioji, Otagi Nenbutsuji temple, and Daikakuji.

Hotel Recommendations:

  • The GrandWest Arashiyama – At a convenient 5-minute walking distance from Hankyu Arashiyama Station, this modern hotel offers spacious standard and deluxe guestrooms with facilities such as flat-screen TV, free Wi-Fi, refrigerator, iPad, and private bathroom with bidet and free toiletries. The friendly staff at the front desk can help in organizing tours around the city and make dinner reservations. Great for all kinds of travelers, including big groups of up to 5 members.
  • Ranzan – Set in the heart of famous Arashiyama district, Ranzan offers spacious guestrooms in a gorgeous setting surrounded by greenery and landscape. Guests can start their day with a hearty complimentary breakfast and relax at the public bath or the Japanese gardens afterward. Traditional rooms with Japanese futon bedding and tatami floors are available for those who wish to experience authentic Japanese hospitality. A karaoke room is available on-site for enjoyment. The in-house restaurant serves traditional multi-course meals. Perfect for all kinds of luxury travelers.
  • Riverside Arashiyama – Featuring expansive, warm-hued apartment units with modern amenities such as soundproofing, free Wi-Fi, hardwood/parquet floors, dining table, microwave, and ensuite bathroom with bath and free toiletries, Riverside Arashiyama is located a gentle walking distance from Bamboo Street. Hankyu Arashiyama Station and Arashiyama Monkey Park are within a few hundred meters from the property. Suitable for all kinds of travelers.

Fushimi

Fushimi, Kyoto

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Fushimi

The famous sake production center of Kyoto, Fushimi is a picturesque neighborhood known for its historic structures, charismatic wooden brewery buildings, and of course, tree-lined canals. Fushimi, originally implying “underground water,” is popular among visitors for its springs – soft, mellow, and delicious, these waters are perfect for sake breweries to thrive in the neighborhood. Historically, the confluence of three rivers in the area, namely Uji, Kastura, and Kamo, made Fushimi a prominent center for trade and transportation. The most notable structure in Fushimi (or the country, for that matter) are the endless vermilion corridors of Fushimi-Inari-Taisha Shrine, a Japanese temple dedicated to the god of rice. Climb over the Inari mountain and you will be rewarded with stunning views of the city – a sight you don’t want to miss. Chushojima is the primary sake brewing area in Fushimi and is home to Choken-ji Temple. Characterized by its red walls and enormous gingko trees, the temple is dedicated to Benzaiten, the only female god among Japan’s seven lucky gods and a patron of everything that flows – water, words, knowledge, music, and undoubtedly, sake.

Good for: All kinds of travelers.
Other Highlights:
Gekkeikan Ōkura Sake Museum, Jikkokubune Canal Cruise, Daigo-ji, Fushimi Castle, Jōnan-gū Shrine, Araki Shrine, and Hokaiji.

Hotel Recommendations:

  • Japaning Hotel Fushimiinari – Set within a peaceful neighborhood in the famous Fushimi Area, Japaning Hotel Fushimiinari features well-furnished guestrooms with a flat-screen TV, washing machine, cookware (can be rented), free Wi-Fi, and ensuite bathroom with free toiletries and a bathtub. The property’s close proximity to Fushimi-Inari station and Inari Station enables guests to explore the rest of the town with ease. Great for all kinds of travelers.
  • Hotel and Spa Lotus Modern (Adult Only) – An adult-only property, Hotel and Spa Lotus Modern is regarded as a love hotel, an exclusive Japanese hotel concept. All guestrooms at the property feature a spa bath, a 70-inch flat-screen TV with a PlayStation 3, a microwave, and complimentary Wi-Fi. Selected rooms come with a private sauna as well. An exceptional complimentary continental breakfast is served daily. Perfect for couples.
  • Mille Glycine II – Within 10 minutes’ walking distance from Fukakusa Station, Mille Glycine II is a charming property which provides comfortable accommodation in well-designed apartment units which come with single beds, Japanese futon beds, balcony, TV with satellite channels, microwave, kitchen, dining area, and private bathroom with free toiletries and a bath. Fushimi Inari Taisha is a short walk from the property. Suitable for all kinds of travelers, including big groups of up to 5 members.

Nishijin

Nishijin, Kyoto

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Nishijin

Located in the northwestern region of Kyoto, Nishijin is one of the most traditional neighborhoods in the city and is famous for its weaving culture. An excellent place to spot machiyas, the most interesting attractions of the area can be found scattered around the Imadegawa-Horikawa intersection. Aside from the many museums and galleries dedicated to the neighborhood’s weaving industry, the primary attraction in the area is its old Kyoto vibe and architecture. Orinasu-kan, not as touristy as Nishijin Textile center, is a great place to learn about Kyoto’s time-honored history of textile weaving. Funaoka Onsen, the best public bath in the city, has plenty of tubs to enjoy of an evening.

Good for: All kinds of travelers.
Other Highlights:
Nishijin Textile Center, Urasenke Chado Research Center, Matsuyamainiri Shrine, Nishijinkita Ryokuchi Park, Fukuoka City Museum, Momochi Central Park, and Momochi Seaside Park.

Hotel Recommendations:

  • Kyoto Brighton Hotel – Recognized for five consecutive years by Michelin Guide, Kyoto Brighton Hotel features luxury guestrooms and 4 times black pavilion award-winning international cuisine. Tucked away in a peaceful, residential neighborhood, the property offers a concierge service, complimentary Wi-Fi, bicycle rentals, a souvenir and flower shop, and 5 dining facilities. A complimentary breakfast is served daily. Perfect for all kinds of luxury travelers.
  • Suzakukan Suzaku Crossing – A beautiful aparthotel located in the heart of Nishijin neighborhood, Suzakukan features contemporary accommodation with Japanese-style décor, ensuite bathroom with bathtub, air-conditioning and heating, flat-screen TV, washing machine, and a fully-equipped kitchen. The helpful staff at the front desk can help with travel tips for the area and provide bicycle rentals at a nominal cost. Great for all kinds of travelers.
  • Hotel Dorf Goshonishi – 600 meters from the extremely renowned Imperial Palace, Hotel Dorf Goshonishi features a beautiful, well-manicured garden, complimentary Wi-Fi, and laundry facilities. Guestrooms here are fitted with air-conditioning, flat-screen TV with satellite channels, telephone, refrigerator, and private bathroom with bidet, bath, and free toiletries. A continental breakfast is served daily. Suitable for all kinds of travelers, including big groups of up to 5 members.
Where to stay: Best Hotels in Kyoto, Japan
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List of Image Sources

Where to Stay in Kyoto – Neighborhoods & Area Guide:

Arashiyama Park, Kyoto

  • Downtown Kyoto: f11photo / shutterstock
  • Gion: URAIWONS / shutterstock
  • Kyoto Station: TungCheung / shutterstock
  • Shijo Dori: 7maru / shutterstock
  • Higashiyama: Sean Pavone / shutterstock
  • Arashiyama Park, Kyoto: Leela Mei / shutterstock
  • Fushimi: Brostock / shutterstock
  • Nishijin: johnmoorefour / shutterstock