Often just considered a side trip from Kyoto, Nara is one of Japan’s most charming cities, imbued with a rich cultural heritage. In the Land of the Rising Sun, Nara is the oldest of the old, starting as this country’s most ancient capital. Take advantage of this historical atmosphere by staying in some of Nara’s best accommodation. Whether you want to stay in the city’s historic establishments or in a Japanese ryokan tucked away in the woods, these hotels will have you eager for one more night.
One of Nara’s oldest hotels, this boutique pad has beautiful Western-style rooms housed in an enormous Japanese-style building. Since its founding in 1909, this hotel has attracted influential figures such as Albert Einstein and Richard Nixon. Facilities include French and Japanese restaurants along with a tearoom and bar. Located at the edge of Nara Park, this is a perfect place for basing your stay in the city. Rent one of their electric powered bicycles for the day to see everything Nara has to offer.
Close to Kintetsu-Nara Station, Kasuga Hotel is perfect for enjoying that famous Japanese hospitality, but also keeping you close to the action. This Japanese hotel has a mix of Japanese and Western-style rooms to choose from. To upgrade your stay, book a room with a private outdoor bath overlooking the city. If that’s not in the budget, there are indoor and outdoor onsen for you to enjoy. With rooms that can sleep up to six, Kasuga Hotel is perfect for families or large groups.
Travellers seeking a luxury Japanese ryokan should not miss out on Tsukihitei. This ryokan, or Japanese-style inn, is right in the heart of Kasuga Primeval Forest, one of Japan’s last original forests. There are only three rooms in this cosy, romantic hotel, so make sure to book early. A Japanese-style kaiseki meal will be served in each room for breakfast and dinner. There are no beds, only futons, but that’s part of the fun of staying at a ryokan. For those uncomfortable with some of the public onsen at Japanese hotels, Tsukihitei has two private cypress baths available to its guests.
This new hotel has some large Western-style rooms to stretch out in for those a little weary of small Japanese hotel rooms. A delicious breakfast comes with your stay, as well as free parking for those driving. The real draw here is the outdoor jacuzzi found in most rooms. If you are able to drag yourself away from the hot tub, Hotel Allamanda also has rental bicycles for its guests.
Located within walking distance of deer-filled Nara Park, Asukasou offers traditional Japanese-style rooms, complete with tatami mats and yukata robes. The hotel’s crowning glory is its communal open-air bath filled with hot spring water, which overlooks the five-storey pagoda Goju-no-to. The view from the bath is particularly impressive after dark when the pagoda is lit up. Book exclusive private use of the bath for the ultimate Japanese relaxation experience or, if you’re looking for something livelier, visit the hotel’s karaoke room.
There’s a peaceful, intimate feel to this 14-room hotel. Permitting guests aged 12 and up, Noborioji Hotel is a member of the coveted organisation SLH (Small Luxury Hotels of the World), recognising its quality and uniqueness. Noborioji’s hand-crafted wooden furniture and decor, featuring natural materials, reflect its green surroundings. Be sure to book a table at Le Bois to sample dishes such as roasted wagyu tenderloin or marinated blowfish – it’s regularly featured in the Michelin Guide.
You’re minutes away from Nara’s main sights at Hotel New Wakasa. The fourth floor rooftop bar puts you in the heart of the town with panoramic views across to Todaiji Temple and Mount Wakakusa. A grand piano greets you in the stylish entrance hall, while the hotel serves typical Japanese cuisine, and its rooms feature traditional tatami mats, futon beds or nara goushi (Japanese sliding doors). You’re spoilt for choice by the range of private onsen hot baths to rent – but the top floor jacuzzi is hard to beat!
There’s one reason to book a stay at this hotel – the views. From its location in the forest among the foothills of Mount Wakakusa, Ando Hotel’s floor-to-ceiling glass windows offer an incomparable panorama of Nara’s rooftops. The hotel’s modern, Western-style rooms are light and airy, lending a feeling of calm that continues in its communal spaces. Terrace restaurant offers a fusion of modern cooking, using local seasonal ingredients to create unique dishes. Experiences offered by the hotel, including evening bonfires and stargazing, make it a really memorable stay.
A hotel based on all things Nara, Setre Naramachi aims to showcase the town’s history, culture, food and natural environment for a truly local experience. The contemporary hotel showcases the essence of Nara in almost every detail, from featuring the region’s distinctive cedar wood in its design to the locally handmade fragrances in the lobby. Spend an afternoon relaxing in the library and record room, tasting one of the two blends of locally roasted coffee curated by “coffee hunter” Jose Mikafate.
It doesn’t get much more Japanese than a hologram samurai checking you in at the door. Henn na Hotel, which translates to “Strange Hotel”, employs robots as well as humans to service guests’ needs. The on-site restaurant, Weather Parlour, serves sweet and savoury dishes for breakfast and lunch, including French toast, desserts and weather-based treats like the sky cream soda. The hotel uses a water processing system to provide “Phiten water” to all guest rooms, which is said to relax muscles, improve sleep and lead to better skin.