We stayed 3 nights at this delightful ryokan which has been run by rhe same family, now in their eigth generation. Located on a busy and narrow side street just a few steps away from the busy Shijjo-dori, the ryokan stands out as possibly the oldest surviving structure on this street. The character is unmistakable as you enter and you feel like youve been transported back in time.
The hospitality, from the moment we entered and were politely proffered house slippers, to the service and delicious meals was typically Japanese, coupled with a warmth which made us feel part of the family for our stay.
There are only 7 traditional rooms, although only 2-3 are typically occupied at any time to ensure their full attention. During our stay however, we were the only guests therefore we had the place to ourselves (particularly useful at bathtime since we could shower when we chose, except when we wanted the full bath in the traditional cedar tub, which required a few minutes advance notice to ensure the water was wonderfully hot to enjoy a long relaxing soak).
There are two meal options, breakfast only and breakfast with dinner. We went for the full dinner option on our last night. Breakfast was elaborate Japanese, with grilled fish, a 'main' dish (sesame tofu or nori or grilled salmon), miso soup, pickles (tiny fish or mushroom or nori), together with seasonal fresh fruit, japanese tea, and, because we asked for it, fresh coffee.
Our dinner was simply amazing, superbly presented, well thought and elaborately served over nine courses. Well worth the price we paid for it. Each course was described by our servers, what it was, how it was made and even, in the case of the red snapper head, how it should be eaten (use your hands to help suck out every last bit of the succulent flesh from the cheeks!).
The rooms were comfortable and simple, wih Tatami mats and the ubiquitous sliding partitions. Although we went in late spring and it was warm, the paper partitions had glass at the back to ensure some degree of insultation for colder weather. We slept on traditional cotton and foam mattresses, laid on the mats, and enveloped in the fluffiest comforters you ever saw. I can understand why some reviewers may have found the mats hard, however we slept well.
Traditional yukata robes were provided in our room and we reveled in walking around in them all the time we were in the ryokan, feeling very Japanese indeed!
The only slight drawback we felt was the lack of storage space apart from a wooden stand with hangers, which meant we weren't truly able to unpack and our suitcases were placed on a rubber matsun the living area, making our otherwise zenlike room, a bit unsightly. This is perhaps how it is, therefore we would advise travelling light if you want to have this uniquely Janese experience. On the positive side, it did make packing a breeze when we left.
Staying in a traditional ryokan is something which must be done to savour true Japanese hospitality and experience something unique. Kinmata embodies this spirit with its delighlful rusticity, authenticity and the warm hospitality and kindness of its innkeeper Ukai-san, his family snd staff.
The superb location, in the heart of Central Kyoto, minutes from Gion, shopping and the restaurants and izakayas on ponto-cho is the icing on the cake.
Top ryokans are expensive however and lack the creature comforts of comparable five star hotels, therefore this is not for everyone. Definitely not if you don't much care for an authentic Japanese inn experience (although 'western' breakfast is available). We stayed here after 3 nights at the superb Conrad Tokyo, however knew almost exactly what to expect.
We also researched extensively before choosing to stay here and were delighted by our choice. We would happily stay here again when in Kyoto next and recommend it wholeheartedly to like minded travellers.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.