Hotel Reviews - Asia

Where to stay in Kyoto: Japanese and western culture balanced well at Sakara

Kyoto is a fabulous city and one that can easily be explored on foot (if you don’t fancy using the two subway lines or the reliable bus system). Of course, as with any city, there are areas that are great to stay in, and there are those that are a bit busier and less appealing, so we plumped for a bit of an in-between option by staying in the Higashiyama area.

While there are of course hostels, ryokans, and chain hotels in Kyoto, we had read good reviews online of Sakara, an accommodation option that seemed to balance the traditional Japanese style of accommodation with a family-friendly, self-catering approach.

Set back in a covered alleyway a few minutes’ walk from Higashiyama station, Sakara is pretty hard to miss with a rather ornate sign outside. What is worth knowing, especially as you are almost certainly going to be arriving by bullet train from Tokyo or Osaka, is that the reception desk is only open between 3-5pm (although you can contact the team to check in later). You also cannot check in earlier than 3pm unless you book accommodation the night before. The real implication of this is luggage and our suggestion is to either use the lockers at Kyoto station and get the bus or taxi to Sakara or go to Higashiyama station and use the lockers there.

We stayed in the Hinoki suite, the largest in the building. It contained a kitchenette, laundry facilities, and a (small!) bath. If you choose this room, it is worth knowing that although there is a bed downstairs and one upstairs (as well as a sofa bed downstairs) the upstairs bed is accessible via a ladder/steps that pose some danger in the middle of the night. We kept banging our heads on a beam that was at the top of the stairs, which was fortunately padded for this reason! It was great to have this separation though, as our little girl could sleep downstairs in her travel cot and we could watch shows on our laptop upstairs without worrying about disturbing her.

With a Lawson and a Family Mart not far away, you can easily stock up on food and milk for little ones, as well as tea and coffee, and there are several excellent places to eat nearby. It is also close to the Chion-in attraction and the Gion area of Kyoto.

Overall it was a lovely accommodation option; the facilities were good and it offered a nice balance between Japanese and western culture. The owners were pleasant when we met them and as a place to stay as a family this is a great option for exploring one of the best cities in Japan.

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