The Best Budget Stays in Nara, Japan

Haruya Naramachi offers a taste of old-world Japanese hospitality
Haruya Naramachi offers a taste of old-world Japanese hospitality | Courtesy of Haruya Naramachi / Expedia.com
Culture Trip Travel Team

Pretty Nara, an ancient Japanese capital, packs in the rich culture of a city like Kyoto – think epic old temples, atmospheric shrines, historic tea houses – yet on a much more compact scale. Others come for the herds of semi-wild deer that roam the city and love to pose for selfies and steal the lunch of unsuspecting tourists. With so much to see here, there’s no need to book a fancy hotel; you’ll not be spending time in it anyway. So save your yen for the fun stuff and instead try one of these great budget stays in Nara.

1. The Deer Park Inn

Hotel

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Courtesy of The Deer Park Inn / Expedia.com

Historic Nara Park is known for its herds of cheeky, roaming, semi-wild deer. This inn is located right in the thick of the action – you’ll meet furry friends the moment you step out the front door. Interiors are simple, with wooden beds, neutral tones and shared toilets, but everything you need is here. That includes a coin-operated laundry machine, handy if you’re travelling around Japan for a few weeks.

2. OYO Hotel Arata Nara

Hotel

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Courtesy of OYO Hotel Arata Nara / Expedia.com

A host of Nara’s top sights are within walking distance here, including the eighth-century wooden Kofukuji pagoda and the rambling National Museum, stuffed with Buddhist artworks. But OYO entices in other ways too, with its tidy modern rooms – white-washed with painted accent walls – and communal seating areas. If you’re after a stay with some real Japanese character, this place obliges with traditional tatami floors and typical sliding doors throughout.

3. Haruya Naramachi

Hotel

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© Haruya Hostels

Nara is known for its rows of attractive old houses – topped with tiled roofs and filled with tatami and shoji (paper screens) – and this little stay gives you the opportunity to sleep in one. Take a cushion by the sliding doors and spend a tranquil moment looking out into the garden courtyard, lush with greenery; dine on delicate dishes at traditional-style low tables; retire to simple bunk beds. Bikes are available for hire to explore Nara’s streets, while a public bath is on hand for end-of-the-day relaxation.

4. Nara Guesthouse Kamunabi

Hotel, Guesthouse

Nara Guesthouse Kamunabi
Courtesy of Nara Guesthouse Kamunabi / Expedia.com

If you like the flexibility to cook your own meals, Nara Guesthouse Kamunabi will appeal; there’s a shared kitchen for whipping up morning eggs or evening bowls of noodles. And if you don’t? You’ll still enjoy it here, thanks to the onsite restaurant, tranquil courtyard garden and friendly staff. Book into the dormitory-style rooms if your budget is particularly tight – otherwise, futon-style rooms sleeping two or three are perfect for couples or families.

5. Yuzan Guesthouse

Guesthouse

Yuzan Guesthouse
Courtesy of Yuzan Guesthouse / Expedia.com

This homely stay, just a short stroll from Nara’s main train station, will give you an insight into life in a typical Japanese home – Yuzan has warmth and personality in spades. The shared lounge has polished wooden walls with comfy seating; sparse, tatami mat-lined bedrooms come with traditional fold-up futon mattresses. A cosy reading corner with magazines is a prime place for afternoon tea breaks, while bikes are available to hire for a thrifty ¥100 (£0.65) per hour.

6. Guesthouse Nara Backpackers

Hostel

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Courtesy of Guesthouse Nara Backpackers / Expedia.com

Ideally placed moments from Nara Park – cluttered with Unesco-listed temples and those adorable deer – this 100-year-old guesthouse has plenty of old-world atmosphere oozing from its teeny landscaped garden and tatami-mat rooms. The facilities are simple – Wi-Fi and washing machines are among the few modern luxuries – but you won’t mind, given that you can stroll out the front door and be at the must-see Todai-ji Buddhist temple within five minutes. Take note: the longer you stay, the cheaper the per-night rate becomes.

7. Nara Ugaya

Guesthouse

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Courtesy of Nara Ugaya / Expedia.com

Fair warning: when you curl up in the lounge at Nara Ugaya, you might not want to leave all afternoon. Books line the walls while tables make a cosy place to down organic, home-roasted coffee and fragrant cinnamon cookies with a friend. Bunk-bed-style dormitory rooms give you the chance to meet fellow travellers, while a hearty breakfast of waffles and boiled eggs provides the fuel you need to explore Nara’s many historic treasures.

8. Super Hotel Lohas

Budget Hotel

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Courtesy of Super Hotel Lohas / Expedia.com

Steps from the central train station, Super Hotel Lohas is a great pick not only for travellers exploring Nara, but also those keen on nearby sightseeing hotspots – think cosmopolitan Osaka or historic Kyoto. A natural hot spring bath is on-site – so you can soak weary feet after a long day pounding the pavements – and cleverly designed rooms with bunk beds efficiently squeeze out every inch of space. Don’t miss the breakfast spread, complete with freshly baked bread.

9. Nara Royal Hotel

Budget Hotel

Nara Royal Hotel
Courtesy of Nara Royal Hotel / Expedia.com

The outdoor hot spring, overlooking tranquil greenery, is a major selling point of any stay at Nara Royal Hotel. But the pampering doesn’t stop there: a rambling series of internal bathing pools, plus a spacious sauna and mineral-rich Hokkaido black silica bath, invites you to spend an entire day lounging about the spa. But then, of course, you’d be missing out on the rest; including the array of on-site restaurants and the sleek, neutral rooms.

10. AB Hotel Nara

Budget Hotel

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Courtesy of AB Hotel Nara / Expedia.com

The epic free breakfasts at AB Hotel Nara are worth the stay alone: with a roster of Japanese and Western options that change each day, they’ll power you straight through to mid-afternoon. And whether you’ve come for a business trip and need a workspace to check emails, or are travelling with the family and require a big room sleeping three, this diverse pick by Nara’s main station ticks the boxes.

This is an updated version of an article originally by Judith LaFaver.

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