I think this place is perfect if you are a young student/traveler on a tight budget. It is a great hostel type of accommodation. It is a good option if you are that type of traveler. However, I do not fit into that category and felt it was not an appropriate fit for me. But, the owners are so kind and the place has a lot going for it, considering the price and location. I still give it high marks, as long as your expectations are in line with what you get here.
The place is located near a JR train station, Uzumasa. You have to take a JR local train from JR Kyoto station for 15-20 minutes. Uzumasa is closer to the western side of Kyoto, so you are not near central Kyoto. However, western Kyoto has quite a lot of sightseeing and definitely worth checking out (Arashiyama, Bamboo Forest, various parks and temples). When you arrive at Uzumasa, ask the station employee for a map to Guest House Bola Bola. They will point you in the right direction, it is about a 5-10 minute walk.
As soon as you walk in, you will see the dog, who is cute and friendly. The owners will show you around the place. There are 2 toilets and 2 showers shared by all the guests. There is a kitchen with appropriate utensils, equipment, and fridge for your use. The "living room" area has a table with several guide books for your perusal. There is also a computer with internet connection and the entire place has free wifi. The connection was spotty, but sufficient for normal internet usage. It was difficult to skype, however. There is also a back garden area, which I did not use. The owners have several maps they can give you; the hand-drawn one of the immediate area of the place is so, so helpful. It points out a local bakery for breakfast, other eateries, grocery stores, and various attractions. The backpacker map of Kyoto is also very helpful.
The room is an open space, varying in size. There are tatami mats and they provide you with a foldable mattress, blankets, pillows and sheets. It was very comfortable and I had no complaints with the sleeping arrangements. The lighting is a bit dim and there is a table for your toiletries and such. If you need to borrow a towel, it is 100 yen. It is very comfortable, overall. There is a lock on the door and the house provides you with a key for it.
However, I am a very light sleeper. I was not able to get pass the "bing bing bing" sound from the raising/lowering of gates when a local train passed behind the house. It literally goes off every few minutes from 5AM to midnight everyday. It did not bother my partner at all that sleeps through anything. However, once I heard the sound, I could not ignore it, particularly at night. In addition, if you are staying while it is a full house, you can hear everything in the neighboring room. Our neighbors weren't particularly quiet nor obnoxiously loud, but I stayed awake until they would fall asleep, which was 2AM. This is not the fault of the place, but be aware of the noise distractions if you are a light sleeper. Another reviewer mentioned never having to wait for the use of toilet/shower facilities, but that was not the case with us. There was a bit of a wait in the mornings, and of course, this depends on how many people are also staying at the guest house. It was never terribly long, but I had to be cognizant of others before I lugged all my stuff over to the shower.
Overall, I did enjoy my stay and the owners are great. The man's English is very good and his wife also is so kind. They are very helpful and friendly and I do not want to detract from that. I just wanted to point out the distractions I experienced so that other travelers can choose wisely and appropriately for their budget and preferences.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC