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Andra K

Welcoming traditional experience in beautiful Kyoto

Review of Sawaya Honten
5.0 of 5 bubblesReviewed 1 Nov 2022
Wonderful stay - spacious traditional Japanese Ryokan with very friendly welcoming staff and wonderful hot pools / onsen. Lovely seating areas near all rooms with small gardens and koi pond.

I'm told the hot breakfasts are great too - but I was at a conference that had plenty of food so I didn't try the Ryokan breakfast. If you're hungry at odd hours there is a Friendly Mart (Lawson? 7/11?) on the corner nearby open till 10 or 11pm - with fruit, candy, hot and cold food etc.

Be ready to leave your shoes at the front door on arrival. Fresh towels, tabi (toe socks) and yukata (cotton robes) provided every day and hot water available 24/7.

Read the onsen / hot pool rules before hand (in room or look up on phone) for important information like no bathing suits, sit down to shower/rinse, no soap/shampoo in the pool.

After making a few mistakes on the first day, getting around by public transport became easy. Sometimes google and bus stops say that a bus has already left but they mean it's supposed to have left. It might just be delayed by a stop or two.

Use ICOCA card on everything (train/bus) except for LOOP buses (couldn't work them out). SUICA card probably works anywhere too but if you get a Welcome SUICA at the airport on the way in (as I did) then you'll discover that it's different. Most importantly, the Welcome SUICA doesn't work on public transport outside of Tokyo. It also expires after 28 days losing all the money you loaded it with. However, you can use it as a payment card at most convenience stores. (I ended up using it at the Family Mart in Kyoto to buy snacks).

Best app for phones - SUICA balance check - although the balance info is often printed on your receipts/bus tickets.

Also, ignore all the websites that say you don't need a reserved seat on Shinkansen but can sit anywhere unless the seat is claimed. That only applies if you have a Japan Rail Pass (not a ticket, or card). Also, you need to use both your local travel pass and your Shinkansen (express) ticket to get through platform gates. That's not exactly clear either.

Kyoto is beautiful and I didn't get a chance to do much sightseeing so I'll be back.
Date of stay: October 2022
Trip type: Travelled solo
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Ryokan
A Ryokan is a traditional Japanese accommodation which typically features ‘futon’ (folding mattresses) on ‘tatami’ (straw mat) floors. Many Ryokan are known for their public baths (typically "Onsen" hot springs) and their traditional cuisine. 24/7 front desk service is not guaranteed for this accommodation type.

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新特別室RIKYU 庭
Ryokan
A Ryokan is a traditional Japanese accommodation which typically features ‘futon’ (folding mattresses) on ‘tatami’ (straw mat) floors. Many Ryokan are known for their public baths (typically "Onsen" hot springs) and their traditional cuisine. 24/7 front desk service is not guaranteed for this accommodation type.

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Reviewed 3 January 2020

We loved our stay at Ryokan Sawaya. The rooms are very spacious, which is rare in Japan, we had a lot of space! The ryokan amenities are great, especially the public baths, excellent to relax after a day of touring Kyoto. The building is clean and well preserved. The attention to details is fantastic, as everyday you get little treats like tea and cookies. The staff also was very friendly and polite.
The location is convenient, close to a subway station and bus stops, and there are several restaurants nearby, but still in a quiet neighborhood. Maybe a bit distant from the most important Kyoto's landmarks, but still easy to move in the city using public transportation.

Date of stay: November 2019
    • Sleep Quality
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
3  Thank dmmdiego
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.
Reviewed 15 December 2019

We had a delightful few days at this lovely ryokan. Service was super friendly and welcoming. The room was cosy and traditional (futons on floor, with thick, warm duvets). The location is great, just a short walk to a quiet station which will take you to Gion and Pontocho in a few stops. The same train line also links to local routes which will take you to several of the less busy temples. If you are lucky enough to be here for the autumn leaves as we were then you should see Enkoji and Shisen-do (they are next to each other): sublime! Many thanks to Sawaya Honten for a memorable stay in Kyoto.

Date of stay: November 2019
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
2  Thank cwdbrighton
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.
Reviewed 6 November 2019

We stayed there for 11 nights and very much enjoyed it. This was our first Ryokan experience and we would go back there anytime. The place is clean and the owner was friendly and accommodating. It is located in a quiet neighborhood and within walking distance of the subway line and bus stop. The free cell phone is a plus.

Room tip: Get a room with private bath on the second floor facing the pond.
Date of stay: October 2019
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Service
1  Thank Rolf E
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.
Reviewed 29 September 2019

I stayed here for four nights and it was the perfect base for a few days visit to Kyoto. The rooms are spacious, clean, and comfortable. The staff is beyond accommodating and speak multiple languages. Handy phones are provided in the room so you can navigate the city without turning on your data while abroad. It feels like an upscale home stay, perfect for tourists looking for a traditional Japanese experience without the sometimes rigid formality. The ryokan is conveniently located to both train and bus routes in a quiet neighborhood near some beautiful temples. There are not as many restaurants near by but the Quatre Saison Boulangerie around the corner makes delightful little pastries to start off your day.

Date of stay: October 2018
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Service
3  Thank Katie B
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.
Reviewed 1 September 2019 via mobile

Went to stay at Sawaya Honten again while visiting Kyoto. I stayed by coincidence in the same room actually. Same amazing cleanliness and service throughout the property.

One new feature I found was that they now have a handy phone in the room for guest use, so you can get 4g hotspot via that phone on your devices in Kyoto. I didn’t use it cuz I rented a pocket wifi. But have used handy phone if other hotels I’ve stayed in, and they work fine for basic streaming. So nice touch!

The front desk people are so nice and very helpful. Definitely would stay again if visiting Kyoto!

Date of stay: August 2019
1  Thank 90sunnyw
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.
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