Hiiragiya was one of the most memorable parts of our stay in Kyoto. Located on the corner of a modern main street, it doesn't look like much from the outside, but once you step through the gates, you feel like you've gone back in time to another world. It looks its age, but not in a bad way. There is something calming about the whole place - from the soft, worn in leather slippers you are presented with on arrival, to the fragrant subtlety of the incense and the beautifully worn carpets.
We stayed in the old wing at the lowest price point, and I do agree with other reviewers that you get what you pay for. Our room was small - big enough only to walk around the table (and later futon) in the centre, with a little landing area looking out onto the garden and a bathroom and toilet that the lovely owner told us had been added on. But it was charming with a great view of the garden. Should we stay again, we would probably pay a little more for a bigger room in the new wing. The old wing is steeped in history and has a great charm, but the bathroom is very old as well - which might not be everyone's cup of tea.
That said, we thoroughly enjoyed our stay. As other reviewers have mentioned, the Japanese idea of luxury lies not in the furnishings but not the hospitality. The room is sparse, but tranquil. The futons were actually incredibly comfortable, and the service was second to none. We had a lovely attendant who looked like she'd worked there all her life. She spoke little English, but was wonderful. The food was exquisite - better than some of the Michelin star restaurants we later tried in Tokyo, in terms of kaiseki, and breakfast (in the new dining room) was a spread too.
We would highly recommend Hiiragiya, for the experience of luxuriously passing the time in your yukata/kimono, being waited on hand and foot, and just removing yourself from the stresses of the modern world. However, we would also recommend paying a bit more for a bigger room and perhaps - more modern - bathroom.
Hiiragiya is also a short walk from Gion, Pontocho and Nishiki Market, which are all great places to experience old Kyoto. There isn't much to do within the ryokan itself, so I would likely only stay for a night or two.
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- Also Known As:
- Hiiragiya Hotel Kyoto