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“A true old world Japan experience” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Hiiragiya

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4.5 of 5
  |   277 Nakahakusancho, Huyacho Anekoji-agaru, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto 604-8094, Kyoto Prefecture   |  
Hotel amenities
Ranked #11 of 341 Hotels / Ryokan in Kyoto
Sydney, Australia
Senior Reviewer
6 reviews 6 reviews
5 hotel reviews
Reviews in 6 cities Reviews in 6 cities
54 helpful votes 54 helpful votes
“A true old world Japan experience”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 10, 2013

First, a threshold issue. Hiiragiya is a Ryokan. This is an old world style traditional Japanese hotel. In the case of Hiiragiya, it is a beautiful 2-storey all wooden Ryokan. If you have never stayed in a Ryokan before, your threshold question is whether a Ryokan is right for you. Choosing to go to a Ryokan for the first time is like choosing to go line dancing for the first time. You know it's very different, will likely be a little quirky but you either accept that reality and put aside your usual expectations of what a hotel should/must be and book your Ryokan or you do not, in which case you stick to a modern Western style hotel. You sleep on the floor on futons that are rolled our for you in the evening and then rolled up for you in the morning. The floor is tatami mats. There aren't a wide range of modern conveniences like in a Western hotel. But that's the point, right? You wanted old world Japan, not a western hotel.

Dear readers, if you have got to this point and are happy to consider staying at a Ryokan then continue reading. There are Ryokans and then there is Hiiragiya. When you enter the unassuming gate into the entry courtyard of Hiiragiya, you are transported back in time to a Japan that you thoughtyou would never see. Other reviewers have mentioned that the staff take your shoes and give you comfortable leather flips flops to wear througout the Ryokan at that entry courtyard. We stayed two nights at Hiiragiya and on the first night, the 5th or 6th generation owner of Hiiragiya came into our room and gave us a personal welcome and advice on things to see in Kyoto as well as a history lesson on the amazingly delicate, fragile wooden masterpiece that is Hiiragiya.

We stayed in the largest room in Hiiragiya which is on the ground floor. It was very large, all wooden and had a beautiful wooden bath in the bathroom. The advantage of the ground floor is that our room opened out onto its own private and immaculately maintained Japanese rock garden "back yard" that we could walk around as our own private yard. How many hotels give you an experience like that? It was also right next to the communal hot bath that I used both nights, which was also a very peaceful and relaxing experience.

The service from everyone at Hiiragiya is excellent. It is ingrained in everyone there. They will help you with anything. Some might see it as bordering on the obseqious, but it's just the old world Japanese way of being polite. Just accept it, you wanted old word Japan, remember?

Food - this is a little tricky. Ryokans are famed for their Kaisecki dinner. This is a tradional 10-12 course traditional Japanese dinner that gives you a tasting of different types of Japanese food. I loved Hiiragiya's Kaisecki dinner, although could not eat all the food in all the courses, as the parts I could not eat just did not agree with my biased Western palate. Others might whinge and moan about this fact. I don't, because ... you guessed it ... I accepted that this is part of spending time at a Ryokan. Remember, you must make that mind shift before going to a Ryokan or you shouldn't go there. However, there is no need to have Kaisecki dinner two nights in a row. It loses its "wow factor" after the first night. If you don't want Kaisecki dinner the next night, they will happily make you up Shabu Shabu or another type of Japanese dish. I had Shabu Shabu on my 2nd night and it was delicious, but it did not have a "wow factor" of the Kaisecki dinner. For this reason (and because Ryokans are very expensive), the marginal value of the food at Hiiragiya diminished for me after the first night. Don't get me wrong - I am very glad I stayed there for two nights rather than one night. The service and the rest of the old world Japanese experience at Hiiragiya is so exceptional, that it more than made up for the excellent Shabu Shabu that had no "wow factor" on the 2nd night. But I would not stay a 3rd night for these reasons.

Hiiragiya provided an unforgetable and lovely experience that will live long in my memory. It was outrageously expensive, but you already accepted that before going, remember? In any event, I have not regretted spending the money at Hiiragiya. It bought an amazing experience that I could not have obtained eslewhere. It is amazingly peaceful, beautiful, quiet, serene haven located in a beautiful old wooden buidling in the middle of busy Kyoto. It relaxes you as much as going to a day spa. When we left, a number of the staff came out the front of Hiiragiya and continued to wave as our taxi left and were still waving as our taxi went around the corner. A lovely touch. We didn't want to leave.

As a final note, in order to have some variety, after leaving Hiiragiya, I stayed two nights at another Ryokan in Kyoto, Gion Hatanaka. Gion Hatanaka is a more modern Ryokan than Hiiragiya. There is nothing wrong with Gion Hatanaka and its location in the middle of the GIon is brilliant. However, given that I was looking for an old world Japanese experience (and having obtained just that to perfection at Hiiragiya), Gion Hatanaka fell far short of my own personal expectations of what a Ryokan experience should deliver. Others might prefer the modernity of Gion Hatanaka and its location in the Gion. Personally, I would not stay at Gion Hatanaka again but would go back to Hiiragiya next time I am in Kyoto. Our other night in Kyoto was at the Hyatt Regency, a really good modern western hotel. If I was going back to Kyoto for 5, 6 or 7 nights, I would spend 3, 4 or 5 nights at the Hyatt Regency and then spend 2 nights at Hiiragiya at the end of the stay. But that's me. I hope this review has been helpful.

Room Tip: I prefer the ground floor, as some of the rooms have access to the ground floor gardens. First floo...
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  • Stayed June 2012, traveled with family
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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164 reviews from our community

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  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (30)
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Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Senior Contributor
46 reviews 46 reviews
19 hotel reviews
Reviews in 20 cities Reviews in 20 cities
52 helpful votes 52 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed December 27, 2012

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.

  • Stayed November 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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Senior Reviewer
10 reviews 10 reviews
9 hotel reviews
Reviews in 7 cities Reviews in 7 cities
11 helpful votes 11 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed December 18, 2012

My sister and I stayed in Hiiragiya for one night after Mume hotel!
It is a totally different experience. While both offered excellent service Hiiragiya is soaked with nostalgic ambience and serenity.
For hiiragiya, time seems frozen the moment the gate shut behind you from the unsuspecting busy little street. We were offered slippers to walk around the hotel and the moment you appear at the reception to leave the ryokan the doorman would immediately bring our shoes to us without us telling them which ones!
We stayed at the new wing this time after two previous stay in the old. Bathrooms were comparable more modern and comfortable with high tech facilities. Very high quality toiletries were provided too. The small wooden tub in the old wing was replaced by a bigger wooden bathtub in this modern bathroom. Our room is large and with a beautiful garden at the sitting area.

Kaiseki dinner was served in our room. The quality of food was excellent with my sister's allergy to shellfish noted from communication a month before our arrival. The only disappointment was the tempura which was a little soggy. We had breakfast in the banquet room, which is a large room with beautiful views of the garden through the ceiling to floor glass wall. The food and service was againimpeccable.

The receptionist who spoke fluent english, was very helpful and knowledgeable. We were very pleased with all his recommendation.

It was a memorable experience.

Room Tip: Rooms in the new wing has modern (bathroom) facilities and is more comfortable. However if one wants...
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  • Stayed October 2012, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
London, United Kingdom
Top Contributor
64 reviews 64 reviews
25 hotel reviews
Reviews in 28 cities Reviews in 28 cities
87 helpful votes 87 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed December 6, 2012

First impression after coming from a Western 5 Star hotel was a bit.... oppressive cause of the room size,
WE booked the OLD part of the Hotel to get a real feel and after 5 minutes the room changed into this very special, cozy home.
Dinner (12 courses Kaiseki) wasserved in the room, so was the breakfast. Delicious
Service and amendments were fantastic, loved the little hot bathtub made out of wood !

Pricey, but worth the experience !

Room Tip: If you can afford it go for the bigger version. We had a room ground floor with a tiny garden. Ther...
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  • Stayed September 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
London, United Kingdom
Senior Contributor
41 reviews 41 reviews
22 hotel reviews
Reviews in 22 cities Reviews in 22 cities
31 helpful votes 31 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed November 17, 2012

My husband and I stayed at this ryokan for one night on our recent visit to Kyoto. We had stayed in other ryokan's before our stay here but after reading rave reviews and being recommended by Japanese friends, we decided it was would be worth a visit.

The ryokan itself is beautiful and the staff were excellent. Our room was beautiful, well appointed and had a wonderful wooden bath. Whilst the service was very good, the ryokan as a whole seemed to lack the personal approach we experienced in others (possibly due to its size).

We had very high expectations coming here and whilst there was absolutely nothing wrong with our stay in any way, it wasn't as special as we were hoping. The one stand out part of our stay was the food which really was exceptional. I really wanted to give the Hiiragiya 5 out of 5 but there was just that something missing. If planning to stay in Kyoto again I would chose the Shiraume ryokan over the Hiiragiya without hesitation.

Room Tip: We had a corner room with a small garden which was a lovely addition.
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  • Stayed November 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Armonk, New York
Top Contributor
88 reviews 88 reviews
86 hotel reviews
Reviews in 80 cities Reviews in 80 cities
100 helpful votes 100 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed October 24, 2012

My wife and I traveled to Kyoto on our Asian vacation and we decided to stay in a ryokan. Having never stayed in one before, it is difficult for me to write this review because I really have nothing with which to compare it. That being said, Hiiragiya is an amazing place. We met the owners whose family has been running the ryokan for over 200 years. We were treated like we were royalty and our room could not have been lovelier. Our bathroom was amazing with two showers and an enormous cedar soaking tub and the property is beautiful. We ate dinner and breakfast in our room as well as the "banquet room" and the meals were amazing. My wife opted for a traditional Japanese breakfast while I chose a western one and the dinners were multiple courses of wonderful and interesting Japanese dishes accompanied by glasses of saki. The outstanding feature of this ryokan was the service. The service was terrific and it was polite and proper without being overdone. Our room was immaculate and we were very happy that we made the decision to stay here rather than a hotel. Hiiragiya is a very special place!

  • Stayed September 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
2 reviews
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 stars Reviewed October 13, 2012

This was my third time at Hiiragiya. Following two solo stays, I decided to bring my parents along to celebrate my birthday in Japan. we stayed at Hiiragiya for three nights.

We stayed in the largest room of the original wing, which had plenty of space for the three of us. Having the expansive Japanese garden outside our seating area was lovely. Our room also had an oversized ofuro which was great after a long day of walking and sightseeing.

Service, as always, was impeccable and we felt at home all the time.

Food was excellent. Those who really appreciate Japanese haute cuisine know they are in for a real treat. I went with Kaiseki for the first and third night (we skipped dinner one night to go out), while my parents chose the Kaiseki in the first night and Yakitori in the third night.

In my birthday, I was suprised with a gift and a beautiful cake, which was a very special touch.

Stayed June 2012, traveled with family
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Hiiragiya

Address: 277 Nakahakusancho, Huyacho Anekoji-agaru, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto 604-8094, Kyoto Prefecture
Location: Japan > Kinki > Kyoto Prefecture > Kyoto
Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Room Service Suites
Hotel Style:
#3 Luxury Hotel in Kyoto
#7 Top resorts Hotel in Kyoto
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$$
Hotel Class:4.5 star — Hiiragiya 4.5*
Number of rooms: 28
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Also Known As:
Hiiragiya Hotel Kyoto

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