Forget traditional ryokan and machiya – the best way to experience the real Kyoto is to stay at a local’s place. These guesthouses are hosted by residents who are eager to share their culture with visitors, whether through carefully designed spaces or more hands-on hospitality. Read on to find the perfect place to stay on our list of the best Airbnbs in Kyoto.
Centrally located hostel-style guesthouse with Japanese garden
This guesthouse works like a hostel in that there are shared bathrooms, a comfortable common area and affordable rooms. However, Kyomachiya Takanashi is styled more like a traditional Japanese townhouse, the kind for which Kyoto is famed, with pleasing bamboo aesthetics, private rooms with tatami (mats) and a lush garden. This Airbnb truly offers the best of both worlds.
Venture away from the busy city centre and stay at this lovely private home tucked away in a quiet kimono-fabric-making district. Kaika is a former townhouse that despite its modern updates has managed to retain the feel of an old but well-loved home. Bicycles are available to rent for when you do want to head downtown.
Located in a historic neighbourhood just 10 minutes away from the famous Fushimi Inari shrine, this huge traditional house is spacious enough for up to 8 guests. The interior has been renovated to embody both modern and classical aesthetics. The house also has its own small Japanese garden where you can zen out after a long day of sightseeing.
In contrast with the traditional Japanese aesthetic, this loft is bright and open, creating a relaxed atmosphere for guests. The contemporary apartment is located in atmospheric Omiya, a neighbourhood that easily connects by train to Arashiyama – a beautiful town known for its bamboo-lined walkway – and other popular Kyoto districts, as well as nearby Osaka.
This lively private home includes that sought-after, old-fashioned Kyoto vibe as far as the architecture and decor goes. However, the hosts have taken things a step further by offering kimono rental for guests with an optional photoshoot to go with it. Pose in the garden on the grounds or explore the city dressed like a local. Located only one stop away from Kyoto Station, this home is as convenient as it is enjoyable.
This large house features designs inspired by Western cultures, with wooden accents, a sunny outdoor patio and a gorgeous claw-foot bathtub. There are also free bicycles for guests to use – perfect for exploring nearby Ginkakuji Temple and the Philosopher’s Path.
This Airbnb is a former ageya (an Edo-period pleasure house) and ryokan repurposed into a guesthouse. The ground-floor café has vaulted ceilings and stained-glass windows (remnants of Japan’s Westernisation in the early 1900s). The upstairs guest area has a more traditional feel, with paper lanterns and calligraphy scrolls decorating the rooms. There is even a small Japanese bath. The entire second floor is available to rent privately, so guests can fully immerse themselves in this unique space with over 250 years of history.
Go a step further and stay inside an actual functioning temple. This townhouse is located within walking distance of the Kamo River, Gion, and Heian Shrine, making it a great base from which to explore Kyoto’s main sights. Even the location itself, on the grounds of Chomyoji Temple, is a worthy attraction. Featuring a contemplative circular window resembling that of Genkoan Temple that opens up to a Japanese garden complete with an outdoor bath, it doesn’t get much better.
This contemporary space is located near Shijo-dori, a famous restaurant-lined street with a long history. The location makes this Airbnb a great spot from which to explore Kyoto. The simple decor features loving touches such as woodblock prints made by the owner’s grandfather. It’s also great for families with children, as there are plenty of cute toys (the host works at a childcare facility and knows her stuff!).
Sakura River Inn is a lovely apartment with an even better view. The studio delivers traditional aesthetics in a variety of ways, with a balcony overlooking a river chief among them. If you can get this space during cherry blossom season, do it – sitting on the balcony on a spring morning up close to the sakura blossoms is an experience you can’t recreate. The hosts speak Japanese, English, Italian and some Spanish, so they’re able and happy to help guests from all over the world.
This remodelled home combines a traditional design with upgrades such as a giant television and exquisitely fluffy beds. The highlight is perhaps the outdoor goemon buro (cauldron bath) that overlooks the peaceful Japanese garden. The home is also very child-friendly and accessible to many shops and sightseeing spots.