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6 Boutique Kyoto Accommodations to stay in now that borders are open

There’s nothing more iconic on one’s first (or second, third, fourth, fifth…) Japan trip than a visit to Kyoto, Japan’s former imperial capital. Rich with historical and cultural beauty, there’s a mysterious, magical quality to this city where noren curtains gently sway in the wind as you pass through them to sample delicious morsels, where you wander Gion’s cobblestone streets hoping to catch a glimpse of the elusive geisha…Tokyo-based Lia ventured down for a trip to Kyoto, exploring her favourite haunts and staying at some of the amazing boutique properties that have popped up in Kyoto, ready for your upcoming travels.


Located in the heart of downtown Kyoto, a 4 minute walk from Gion Shijo station, Sora Niwa Terrace is the only onsen ryokan in the centre of the city. A stunning rooftop terrace awaits all guests with views of some of Kyoto’s most famous landmarks and overlooking the Kamogawa river, where one can sit down and relax by soaking their feet in the terrace’s onsen foot bath whilst enjoying a complimentary drink.

The hotel also features a public open-air onsen bath on their top floor including a standing onsen bath, and a bubbling jacuzzi onsen; perfect to end a day’s exploring Kyoto’s charms. Three types of guest rooms are available to stay in, equipped with all the modern amenities one may need.


For those wishing a more luxurious experience of one’s own private onsen experience, look no further than Sora Niwa’s sister property Bettei Kamogawa. Located in the same building but with separate entrances if one so chooses, every room of Bettei Kamogawa has its own private onsen semi open-air onsen bath, so one may relax away to their heart’s content in the privacy of their own room.

One can also still enjoy all the benefits of Sora Niwa, from their rooftop terrace with drinks and onsen footbath, to the public onsen baths and delicious ice lollies to refresh you after your soak. If you so wish, you can also include a traditional kaiseki feast in your stay, or choose to explore the local dining scene. 


Travelling in larger groups can often prove a bit difficult in Japan, where space can be limited. Mimaru Hotels are the perfect option for those travelling with families, several friends and want to have a home away from home stay. Mimaru Suites Kyoto Shijo offers 2 or 3 bedroom suites in the popular local districts of Shijo and Karasuma. Each suite comes with a fully equipped kitchen, dining room, laundry machine and other features to ensure you have all the comforts of home.

The rooms are all tastefully decorated in a modern fusion of Japanese and Western elements, allowing one to experience sleeping on a futon on the tatami floor or curling up in the comfort of a western bed. 


A convenient 15mins walk from Kyoto station (or 5mins from Umekoji Kyoto-nishi station), Umekoji Potel philosophy is to be the gateway connection for visitors to Kyoto’s local community and cultural experiences symbolised by the coining of the word “Potel” a combination of “port” and “hotel”. 

Within their premises, one can encounter one’s first foray in the umami of Japanese sake or get lost in the written word of Japanese books carefully selected by their book sommelier Atsushi Horibe. Spend an evening listening to a carefully curated record selection on the 4th floor or soak away after a day exploring in their stunning public traditional sento bath, then finish off with some complimentary drinks on the 2nd floor.


Kyoto has seen an increase in charming boutique accommodation across the city, especially for those wanting to experience a Machiya stay. Originally the historic homes of artisans and merchants (as such, the architecture can only be found in certain Japanese cities), these properties have been restored and renovated to provide a welcoming stay for visitors.

Kyoisuke has three delightful properties to choose from: Hokomachi, Otonari and Motadiya. Tastefully decorated with stunning antiques, vibrant tilework yet still retaining the integrity of the original craftsmanship; Kyoisuke pays wonderful homage to the richness of the Taisho area. Both Hokomachi and Otonari also have lovely open-air baths to enjoy, one made from Hinoki cypress and the other from Shigaraki-ware pottery respectively. A perfect blend of modern comforts and traditional artisan details to enjoy.


For those who have a love of the modern minimalist, slight industrialist vibe - Kyo no Ie’s machiya accommodations are a stunning contrast of an outer facade of traditional Kyoto, then step through the sliding doors and one enters a world of beautiful minimalist zen. Smooth concrete lines, polished wood grains highlight the natural beauty of the interiors and materials used, whilst many of them feature intimate Japanese gardens or greenery throughout to encourage meditation and just some respite from the hustle and bustle of travelling.

Several of the properties have open-air or view baths, whilst others are also dog-friendly. Depending on the property one can enjoy the comforts of western beds, or experience lying on a futon and tatami or both.



People often enjoy a quick day trip from Kyoto to the neighbouring prefecture of Nara, famed for its inquisitive deer. However for those who wish a more leisurely sojourn, book a night at the delightful boutique Setre Naramachi.  On the boundaries of Sarusawa Pond and a short walk from Nara’s Park and all of Nara’s best sights;  this lovely property only houses 32 rooms beautifully designed from the specialty of Nara’s Yoshino Sugi (cedar trees).

After exploring for the day, one can enjoy relaxing in their comfortable Meister Lounge, or their Library and Record Room whilst enjoying complimentary drinks and snacks, or exploring their intimate Bio Yard then sleep comfortably in their spacious, welcoming rooms.


To check out Lia's unique Tokyo recommendations for overnight stays, click here!

Or if you like the sound of a trip to Nara and are in need more reasons to slip it into your Kyoto itinerary, check out our blog post on Mount Yoshino here.


Follow Lia as she explores more areas of Japan intimately, over on her IG @ryokanwanderings or have a read of her blog: Ryokan Wanderings for even more stories and adventures.


Lia is an Aussie based in Tokyo, Japan with a love of exploring the lesser known, and learning people’s life stories. She loves to seek out onsen ryokan with private onsen baths, discovering hidden sushi omakase gems or curled up in her Totoro bed with a good book. If not travelling in Japan or abroad, her days are spent in her studio, Tokyo Kaleidoscope, reconstructing vintage Japanese silk kimonos into bespoke pieces for herself and others.




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