Kyoto Watazen Ryokan exceeded my expectations. Great location in a quiet neighborhood, within walking distance of the Nishiki food market, main shopping street Shijo-dori, metro stations and a number of restaurants. To get there from Kyoto Station with the greatest ease, make sure you have a printout (in Japanese) with the hotel address to show the taxi drivers. Once you've scouted the area it's easy to get around by yourself via walking, biking or the metro.
The ryokan looks like a small hotel from the outside but inside your room you feel like you're in a traditional Japanese inn... with modern hotel comforts. A young woman in a kimono served us a welcome drink of green tea and Kyoto sweets called Yatsuhashi - cinnamony and delicious.
Everything's spanking clean and they provide yukata (robes) and daily bath kits and towels to use in the onsen (public bath) with hot-spring tub below - a godsend after a hot day of walking or cycling. If you're shy, best to go off peak hours, like late at night.
Rooms with no private bath come with a sink, blowdryer, and automated Japanese toilet with heated seat and bidet. They trot out the futons at night, which are soft and ultra-comfy.
For breakfast you have a choice between the free continental with a variety of breads (thick toast, croissants, rolls, jam & butter), hardboiled eggs and coffee, or pay extra for the Japanese breakfast, which is a FEAST good for two: generous portions of silky tofu, an omelet, grilled fish, a whole container of white rice, sheets of nori, miso soup, various condiments, and a pot of green tea! Worth trying at least once, especially if you're planning to do lots of physical activity that day.
My only complaint is the language barrier... a few of the people at the front desk are not that fluent in English and so asking them for clear directions is a challenge. I asked for a restaurant recommendation and they just handed me a map with "Restaurant Area" circled in red, though they do have a Gourmet Guide to Kyoto in the room. Clear, precise maps are also hard to come by, making it a challenge to understand the subway, much less bus system. The best map is the Kyoto City Map - try to score a copy of that one, and try to squeeze as much info from your tour guides as possible! Otherwise I had a lovely stay at Watazen and would definitely go back again.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- WATAZEN is a Classical Japanese Inn with modern amenities, located in the center of Kyoto. It has been a familiar inn for many travelers to Kyoto since [Tenpo Gannen](1830). Today, many people enjoy our traditional harmonious atmosphere in central Kyoto. We are confident that our excellent service and cuisine will make your visit to Kyoto a memorable one. Please enjoy Kyoto and relax at WATAZEN. The cost is from 6300JPY - per person. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Watazen Hotel Kyoto