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“Excellent place to experience old Japan” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Hiiragiya

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Hiiragiya
4.5 of 5
Ryokan
  |   277 Nakahakusancho, Huyacho Anekoji-agaru, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto 604-8094, Kyoto Prefecture   |  
Hotel amenities
Ranked #8 of 342 Hotels / Ryokan in Kyoto
London
Top Contributor
72 reviews 72 reviews
55 hotel reviews
Reviews in 53 cities Reviews in 53 cities
78 helpful votes 78 helpful votes
“Excellent place to experience old Japan”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 1, 2013

We stayed for two nights which was perfect. The room was extremely comfortable and the kaiseki dinner on our first night was amazing. Service was impeccable. Staff really tried to highlight the best places to visit in the city (with some very helpful hints of places we might not have otherwise visited). And the lady looking after us in the room displayed every characteristic of what you'd imagine a traditional Japanese ryokan to be like, combining discretion with presence and impeccable service and attention to detail. Definitely a place I'd go back to again.

  • Stayed March 2013, traveled with friends
    • 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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172 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • 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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English first
Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida
Senior Contributor
49 reviews 49 reviews
8 hotel reviews
Reviews in 23 cities Reviews in 23 cities
21 helpful votes 21 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 28, 2013

more than one reason.....one nearly must regret writing about a ryokan so perfect, so dedicated, so traditional. in a near-perfect world one looks for perfection....

stroll the marble sidewalks of kyoto --if you see the engraved inscription of 'bike-dori' you may have strayed onto the bike path...and there it is: the unassuming Hiiragiya, that place for which you may need an introduction a letter of invitation, will you clear the mint-scented wet cobble-stones before you even enter?

will you remember that, beyond taking off your fairly ordinary western shoes, you will wear the shoes of the house, to visit the facility, to peek out or just go to the immaculate gardens, to sit at your impeccable table for dinner that not easily be forgotten, right in your private accommodations...

imagine you visit all the great sites, some will need similar introductions as you would need to gain access to Hiiragiya, imagine a house. ona quiet street. you arrive by taxi from the quintessentially modern Nishi Kyoto station, a quick 1.5 hours on the Nozomi Shin-kansen, and there you are, transported to the graces of a traditional Japan.

you don't check in, you simply arrive, green tea, a few cookies, your room is ready, overlooking private gardens, never a leaf out of place, the gentle drip of water from a bamboo shoot, in the morning, the quiet whips of when these gardens are swept...

you -hopefully- know the routine: shower exuberantly before a hot soak in the cedar tub, let yourself sink until below the nostrils. if you are -predictably- too hot, place an ice cold towel on your forehead and all is then well. soak all you need: cedar loses heat much slower than those enamel monsters...

then you are -eventually- ready for dinner: dressed for dinner in traditional evening kimono. some 12 courses in small denominations will be presented, with a whisper, your geisha will serve, meekly maintaining eye contact and duscreetly asserting you are aware of this spectacular cuisine. on a summer evening, the garden doors will be opened, small lights creating a sense of distance, a sense of truly belonging: you know you are privileged to enjoy the finest the world, Japan, and Kyoto have to offer.

you will never see another guest, you are there, like monarchy, all private, all quiet. so how does the staff know when you lift one o both eye lids, to swoooosh a newspaper quietly through your mail slot? so how discreetly can the arrival be times of many staff members putting away the bedding and prep the same room for a superb breakfast? these are the mysteries of the asian nations, the secrets of Japan, a gaijin would complain 'where is the tv remote?'.. at the Hiiragija the remote has a silk robe, after all, tv intrudes upon the traditional ways.

shed all things western: prepare for an elaborate farewell: the family will bid youba fond farewell and you are/will be trusted into busy Kyoto life once you retrieve your street shoes and board the taxi... you will thrn sged a tear and make plan to return, as soon as ou can afford it.

Hiiragija is modest in its presence, luxurious in accommodations, and opulent in its pricing. don't embarrass yourself by giving a tip, you will give the frontdesk an envelope and evowners a mall gift. you will be their guests and friends forever.

this is a special special place, enjoy when you go and take your time. you are treated like royalty.

Room Tip: lower level rooms on courtyard. upper level facing the Palace..
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  • Stayed April 2012, traveled with family
    • 5 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
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Singapore
Contributor
13 reviews 13 reviews
13 hotel reviews
Reviews in 12 cities Reviews in 12 cities
7 helpful votes 7 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 4, 2013

This was my first experience at a ryokan. We stayed in a room in the new wing which was clean and quite big. Lovely little bathroom (quite traditional in terms of the bathtub). The service was great and the food was fantastic. I liked that there was the option for a Japanese breakfast. The meals were probably one of my favorite parts of the stay. We were put in a different room in order to accommodate the 4 of us during meal times. Our waitress was very nice. The check-in and check-out was very fast. In addition, the location was perfect. They managed to make the new wing modern and nice with traditional touches - very good balance. We got a chance to look in one of the old wing rooms. If you're looking to stay in a room that maintains the old and traditional style, do choose the old wing. Definitely will return!

  • Stayed May 2012, traveled with family
    • 5 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
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
London
Top Contributor
55 reviews 55 reviews
45 hotel reviews
Reviews in 39 cities Reviews in 39 cities
52 helpful votes 52 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed February 17, 2013

This old world ryokan is on a very busy intersection (a six lane road at the north side) and, while steeped in history, didn't deliver on the level of expectation attached to the price. The "love" is missing from this place. Enjoy Kyoto - it's an amazing city, but save your ryokan experience for a property which will deliver on value for money as when it's right, it's amazing!

Room Tip: We saw several rooms as we were not happy with our first room, which was right on the "six lane...
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  • Stayed January 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 2 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 2 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Toronto
Contributor
19 reviews 19 reviews
15 hotel reviews
Reviews in 15 cities Reviews in 15 cities
25 helpful votes 25 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed February 13, 2013

We spent 2 nights at this Ryokan after reading countless positive reviews online and in travel guides. Overall, it was a fantastic experience, but after experiencing other Ryokans I realized that the Hiiragiya was overpriced, and this is why I gave this Ryokan 4 stars instead of 5. The rooms were lovely, bedding clean and cozy and the helpful attendants created a warm, traditional and inviting experience.
The food was superb but too much was served at dinner and we were still full when we woke up the following morning to enjoy our huge breakfast.
The location was great and we really enjoyed the serenity inside the Ryokan - it was like we had been transported back in time every time we stepped into the main doors.
In general, a great Ryokan experience, but definitely consider looking into other Ryokans that are just as beautiful at half the price.

Room Tip: Stay in the NEW buidling.
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  • Stayed September 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
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Sydney, Australia
Reviewer
5 reviews 5 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviews in 5 cities Reviews in 5 cities
55 helpful votes 55 helpful votes
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
Was this review helpful? Yes 13
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Top Contributor
56 reviews 56 reviews
20 hotel reviews
Reviews in 24 cities Reviews in 24 cities
69 helpful votes 69 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
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
Amenities:
Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Room Service Suites
Hotel Style:
#2 Luxury Hotel in Kyoto
#6 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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