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“Magical experience” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Guest House Bola-Bola

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Guest House Bola-Bola
25-17 Uzumasa Horigauchi-cho, Ukyo-ku, Kyoto 616-8152, Kyoto Prefecture (Arashiyama / Uzumasa / Takao)   |  
Hotel amenities
Ranked #75 of 168 Specialty lodging in Kyoto
Seoul, South Korea
Reviewer
4 reviews 4 reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
“Magical experience”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 26, 2011

My boyfriend and I went to Kyoto on a vacation from our jobs teaching English in Korea over New Years '10-'11. We originally booked this place because everything else was already booked since it was New Years, but I feel like it was destiny that this was the case. This place just gave me the best feeling and when I think back to my vacation, I think of the sight and smell of this place and just get so nostalgic. There is something very special about it. It is really cozy and smells like wood. Everything is immaculately clean. It was winter when we were there so I thought that I would be too cold using the outdoor shower but taking a steaming hot shower outside in the cold was the most refreshing shower I've ever had. The area is really peaceful and it gives you a good idea of what life is like in Japan outside of the touristy, urbanized areas. There are tons of places to eat around there and the train station is close. There are also a few grocery stores around. I didn't think that the location was inconvenient at all and the noise from the train wasn't loud at all - it didn't bother my boyfriend and I one bit - actually we found it soothing. The owner is extremely kind and helpful and will give you a ton of maps and information. Kyoto is a beautiful place and is now one of my if not my favorite city. If it weren't for the maps and info he gave us, I wouldn't have had any idea of where to go or what to see. The low price is unbelievable, too. This is the cheapest and best accommodation in Kyoto.

  • Stayed December 2010, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 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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43 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    4 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    4 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (2)
Date | Rating
  • Chinese (Traditional) first
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Italian first
  • Japanese first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
Bratislava, Slovakia
Senior Reviewer
8 reviews 8 reviews
8 hotel reviews
Reviews in 8 cities Reviews in 8 cities
4 helpful votes 4 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed November 17, 2010

Unfortunately, we only stayed one night because it was booked when we wanted to prolong our stay. Staff is the best! Provided us with free maps (hand drawn - we still have them as souvenirs), pointed out the best places to go, kept our bags, etc. Rooms are spacious (for Japan). Toilets and showers (squeaky clean!) are only downstairs, while our room was upstairs.

  • Stayed October 2010, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 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.
Brisbane, QLD
Contributor
17 reviews 17 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviews in 9 cities Reviews in 9 cities
11 helpful votes 11 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed November 11, 2010

Very friendly, helpful host who provided us with maps and reccommendations of things to see and do in Kyoto.

Only one train stop away from Ashyiama which is on my must see list for Kyoto - not only does it have a world heritage site, it's landscape is stunning, tofu restaurant superb and shopping is fun.

Only 2 or 3 stops from Nijo Castle, I can't remember exactly, but we went there in peak hour on the trains, so it wasn't too long a ride or I would definitely have remembered! Well located, although the area it is in isn't the most exciting.

Did get a bit of train noise in the top room at night, but it didn't stop me sleeping.

Bathroom and toilets clean with good water pressure and the warm seat covers were a nice touch (although a bit of fright when you first sat down in the middle of the night!) as it was cold while we were there. Make sure you take your own towel, as they aren't provided - although shampoo and conditioner is.

Plenty of good blankets, the mattresses weren't as comfy as some of the ryokan style accommodation we stayed at.

  • Stayed October 2010, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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Bradford, United Kingdom
1 review
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 28, 2010

To be honest we were on a tight budget and booked Bola Bola because it was cheap, not expecting too much. What we got was absolutely perfect, it felt like home. The owner was extremely helpful, the rooms were clean, the beds were extremely comfy, the kitchen was useful to have, and the showers were very powerful. Staying there was an absolute pleasure. There was a wealth of tourist information for the guests to look through and maps of the local area showing shops, banks and restaurants. Bola Bola isn't in the centre of the city so the surrounding area is quite quiet. It is on several bus routes into the centre so sight seeing is easy. There is so much to do, we stayed a week, absolutely filled our days and still had stuff we didn't see. Go, have a great time. Just remember that the map on their website has north pointing down. With that in mind you should find it easily.

  • Stayed May 2010, traveled on business
    • 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.
Long Island City, New York
Senior Contributor
35 reviews 35 reviews
33 hotel reviews
Reviews in 29 cities Reviews in 29 cities
176 helpful votes 176 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed June 18, 2010

I think this place is perfect if you are a young student/traveler on a tight budget. It is a great hostel type of accommodation. It is a good option if you are that type of traveler. However, I do not fit into that category and felt it was not an appropriate fit for me. But, the owners are so kind and the place has a lot going for it, considering the price and location. I still give it high marks, as long as your expectations are in line with what you get here.

The place is located near a JR train station, Uzumasa. You have to take a JR local train from JR Kyoto station for 15-20 minutes. Uzumasa is closer to the western side of Kyoto, so you are not near central Kyoto. However, western Kyoto has quite a lot of sightseeing and definitely worth checking out (Arashiyama, Bamboo Forest, various parks and temples). When you arrive at Uzumasa, ask the station employee for a map to Guest House Bola Bola. They will point you in the right direction, it is about a 5-10 minute walk.

As soon as you walk in, you will see the dog, who is cute and friendly. The owners will show you around the place. There are 2 toilets and 2 showers shared by all the guests. There is a kitchen with appropriate utensils, equipment, and fridge for your use. The "living room" area has a table with several guide books for your perusal. There is also a computer with internet connection and the entire place has free wifi. The connection was spotty, but sufficient for normal internet usage. It was difficult to skype, however. There is also a back garden area, which I did not use. The owners have several maps they can give you; the hand-drawn one of the immediate area of the place is so, so helpful. It points out a local bakery for breakfast, other eateries, grocery stores, and various attractions. The backpacker map of Kyoto is also very helpful.

The room is an open space, varying in size. There are tatami mats and they provide you with a foldable mattress, blankets, pillows and sheets. It was very comfortable and I had no complaints with the sleeping arrangements. The lighting is a bit dim and there is a table for your toiletries and such. If you need to borrow a towel, it is 100 yen. It is very comfortable, overall. There is a lock on the door and the house provides you with a key for it.

However, I am a very light sleeper. I was not able to get pass the "bing bing bing" sound from the raising/lowering of gates when a local train passed behind the house. It literally goes off every few minutes from 5AM to midnight everyday. It did not bother my partner at all that sleeps through anything. However, once I heard the sound, I could not ignore it, particularly at night. In addition, if you are staying while it is a full house, you can hear everything in the neighboring room. Our neighbors weren't particularly quiet nor obnoxiously loud, but I stayed awake until they would fall asleep, which was 2AM. This is not the fault of the place, but be aware of the noise distractions if you are a light sleeper. Another reviewer mentioned never having to wait for the use of toilet/shower facilities, but that was not the case with us. There was a bit of a wait in the mornings, and of course, this depends on how many people are also staying at the guest house. It was never terribly long, but I had to be cognizant of others before I lugged all my stuff over to the shower.

Overall, I did enjoy my stay and the owners are great. The man's English is very good and his wife also is so kind. They are very helpful and friendly and I do not want to detract from that. I just wanted to point out the distractions I experienced so that other travelers can choose wisely and appropriately for their budget and preferences.

  • Stayed May 2010, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 2 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 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.
Salt Lake City, UT
Senior Contributor
41 reviews 41 reviews
9 hotel reviews
Reviews in 22 cities Reviews in 22 cities
40 helpful votes 40 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 25, 2010

It's soooo cute and gives you more the traditional inn (ryokan) feeling. If you're looking for more of the tatami mats and futon experience, this would be a good place for you. It's a family-run place, and they couldn't be friendlier. One of our little group had hurt her ankle and they were so considerate and helpful with making her comfortable. It is a bit further away from the main part of the city, but not a bad location if you're looking to do the monkey park and some bamboo groves in Arashiyama (highly recommended area to visit!!). It was probably our favorite of the three places we stayed during our vacation, and we only got one night. Again, if you're looking for a more traditional inn, this place is highly recommended. I would stay there again!

  • Stayed April 2009, traveled with friends
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 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.
vancouver
1 review
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 8, 2010

It was an amazing experience. I did not expect such a clean environment and friendly staff for such a cheap price. I have stayed in two other hostels prior to this one in Kyoto and this was clearly my favourite. The only downside is that it is a bit farther away from Kyoto Station than the other accommodations and the bus that takes you there do not take the 500yen daily pass. (A bus pass that provides you unlimited rides for the entire day. Very worth it if you go to various shrines around Kyoto, a single trip may cost 100-220yen itself.) You can take a bus that takes you to Bola Bola for 220yen from Kyoto Station so it's not that bad. There are also 24/7 open restaurants and convenience stores near by. If you want to experience the true Japanese culture, this is a place to do so. Enjoy your stay!

  • Stayed December 2009, traveled with friends
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Guest House Bola-Bola

Address: 25-17 Uzumasa Horigauchi-cho, Ukyo-ku, Kyoto 616-8152, Kyoto Prefecture
Location: Japan > Kinki > Kyoto Prefecture > Kyoto > Arashiyama / Uzumasa / Takao
Hotel Style:
Ranked #75 of 168 Specialty lodging in Kyoto
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $
Number of rooms: 5
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