With its meandering river lined in cherry blossom trees, its serene tearooms and atmospheric temples, Kyoto is a must-visit on any trip to Japan. And with so much to see, you’ll want to save your cash for exploring, so book into a cheap stay to maximise the fun – they’re bookable on Culture Trip. Kyoto has some brilliant picks, from traditional ryokans to slick, contemporary digs. You’ll have somewhere comfortable to crash, and plenty of yen left over for enjoying sublime sushi bars, buzzing markets and treasure-packed museums.
The location here is first-rate, a short hop from well-connected Kyoto Station and less than half an hour’s walk from the landmark Kiyomizu-dera temple. Travellers are also drawn to K’s House Kyoto by its mix of traditional Japanese features – such as tatami mat rooms – and Western-style facilities such as raised beds. Choose dorm rooms if you’re on a particularly tight budget or travelling as a group, or opt for a double or twin room if it’s just the two of you.
The historic Gion district, with its rows of old wooden machiya houses, isn’t just picturesque – it’s the home of the Kyoto geisha, and this ryokan puts you right at the heart of it. Sleep in a traditional tatami mat-lined room, overlooking a tranquil garden, or save your yen and check in to a mixed dorm with bunk beds; each one comes with a pull-across curtain for added privacy.
After a really contemporary stay in Kyoto? Try this modern capsule hotel, where sleeping pods built for one come with wide, reclining beds that turn into sofas; a projector for watching films; and automatic lights that double as wake-up alarms. There’s 24-hour coffee on tap, while a daily happy hour sees complimentary draft beer flowing. There are slick modern spaces with an industrial chic vibe for socialising or having meetings, while historic Gion is just across the river.
The Imperial Palace is right on your doorstep when you book into this modern hostel, set in a funky art deco-style building. Hire bikes allow you to explore under your own steam; free DIY laundry machines mean you can pack light; and a kitchen gives you the chance to whip up your own meals and save even more cash. There’s a free all-you-can-eat breakfast, too, so you can fortify yourself for exploring all that Kyoto has to offer. Polished wooden bunk beds come with pull-across curtains, so you can enjoy some privacy.
The sun-drenched private garden – a rarity in Kyoto – is one of the highlights of a stay at Piece Hostel Sanjo East. Sip a morning coffee while planning your sightseeing for the day, or sink an evening beer while chatting with other travellers at this sleek, contemporary hostel, just north of Nishiki Market. There are budget bunk bed rooms, or you can also hire a double or triple with its own private bathroom – just the thing for small families or honeymooning couples.
If you’re looking for a quiet but friendly place to bed down, this 20-bed hostel, just a few minutes’ walk from central Karasuma Station, will tick the boxes. It’s still a social place – there’s a shared common room and kitchen, as well as a rooftop – but the idea here is that everyone winds down from about 11pm, so you can get a good night’s sleep and enjoy your sightseeing the next day. Dorm rooms come with personal lockers and security boxes, as well as feather duvets.