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Reviewed October 8, 2012

A fake "ryokan" by every sense of the word. I chose to stay here when visiting with my wife instead of one of the magnificent guesthouses (e.g. Hana right next door, or especially K's which I LOVED) in order to have a Japanese style ryokan experience at budget price. What could be better right? As with anything in Japan, you'll soon discover that you get what you pay for... And if you want quality, expect to pay for quality. This place is not a ryokan in any sense of the word. They give you the opportunity to experience sleeping in a Japanese style hotel - small rooms with Japanese decor, tatami mats, tiny bathrooms, and even a cheap kimono to wear for the 10min that you'll actually spend around the facilities here, but at 2x the cost. So basically all the parts of a japanese hotel that most westerners actually hate, at elevated prices. A true ryokan is like a japanese spa... Hot springs, massages, top class meals delivered right to your room... Basically a place to go as a vacation in and of itself. Here are plenty of real ryokans in Kyoto, but all are well outside of the city limits. Many others similar to Kyoraku within the city will claim to offer this Japanese tradition, by essentially are catering to tourists who don't know any better and think this is what a real ryokan is like. We paid ¥11,000 per night not including breakfast, which was 2-3x what a guesthouse would have been (granted, a real ryokan would have been ¥30,000 range). If visiting Kyoto, don't bother with any place with the name "ryokan" in its title - you're not here to stay indoors all the time... There is so much to see and do that there's no point in wasting money to stay home (let alone one without ryokan treatment). Worst part of Kyoraku was the 11pm curfew... Meaning you cannot even go out to experience the extensive nightlife around Sanjo area! For this reason alone, a guesthouse/hostel would have been far preferable. As negative as I've been, this is not to say that all is bad here... The owner this sweet little old lady is incredibly nice and great, and does prepare a great breakfast (¥1000 per person extra) from local Kyoto goods. And the location is hard to beat (5min walk from Kyoto station). But for the price there are far better places you can stay with privacy (most guesthouses/hostels do have individual rooms you can book, many with private bathrooms as well).. And those where you could expect to sleep just as well given the paper thin walls at Kyoraku which allow you to hear every and anything. In summary - don't fall in the fake "ryokan" trap - save your money elsewhere and have an even better Kyoto experience. I'd say this place would be great for one purpose only - if you have a Japanese girlfriend whose family you are visiting (as was the case with 1 guest we met) - can't stay in a hostel if you're trying to impress them, need to front some cash, more "Japanese" authentic, etc.

I actually feel bad writing this review since the owner was such a nice lady...

Room tip: If you really want a ryokan experience, I'm afraid you'll have to pay for one... there's no such thing as a "budget ryokan". Either go splurge (which I don't know why you would do in Kyoto with so much to see/do), or save your money and stay elsewhere far cheaper.
Date of stay: October 2012
  • Trip type: Traveled as a couple
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3  Thank Jon1796
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 7, 2012

Ryokan Kyoraku is a good value hotel, handy to the Kyoto Station. The lady who runs the establishment runs a tight ship and everything is spotlessly clean. You have to vacate your room throughout the day (from 9am to 3pm, I think) to allow the cleaning. The rooms are quite basic but we found the free wifi and coin operated washing machine and dryer very useful. There is a computer offering free internet access in a common area for those who require it.

Room tip: The rooms on the third floor have private bathrooms whereas those on the second floor have communal bathrooms.
Date of stay: April 2012
  • Trip type: Traveled as a couple
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1  Thank Jimmy452
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 14, 2012

Have been very pleasantly surprised with my stay at this Ryokan. The staff are very curtious going out of their way to ensure a pleasant stay. The Ryokan appears very new and is spotlessly clean. It is also very easily accessable from Kyoto station which in turn also provides easy access to the bus networks to access all parts of the Kyoto area. Being in this area also provides great access to all types of eateries. Would totally recommend this to others

Date of stay: April 2012
  • Trip type: Traveled as a couple
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1  Thank aussietraveller1960
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 11, 2012

This is a nice, reasonable ryokan in a good location. It is about a 10-minute walk from the main JR station. I was impressed immediately by the cleanliness of the place. Owners were very helpful. Stayed there with two others in a three person room. It was a very traditional Japanese style room (no frills) without a bath. This is not an elaborate ryokan, but if you want to have a basic ryokan experience without spending a lot of money, this is a good choice. We did not eat breakfast there, but coffee and tea are available and we were even encouraged to bring something in from the bakery if we so desired. I would stay there again.

Date of stay: November 2011
  • Trip type: Traveled with family
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1  Thank Shadrach44
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 22, 2011

We stayed here in one of the Japanese rooms with ensuite bathroom for 4 nights.

As mentioned by all the other reviewers, the location is very convenient. Walking distance (7 minutes) to the main JR Kyoto train station which is useful if you want to take a day trip to Arashiyama. It is also the main hub for the buses which are an easy transport mode to most of the sightseeing sights in Kyoto. You can buy a day pass or a 2 day Sightseeing pass from the JR Bus centre at the train station (unlimited travel on the bus). Take the tourist bus which also let's you know the name of stops in English as well as displays the name of the stops in English. This is not covered by the JR Rail Pass.

At Kyoto train station, there is Isetan (huge departmental store) with 2 levels of food court at the top level and nearby there is also an underground mall with a variety of shops ranging from clothing to food. BIC camera is near the train station - handy for electronics. There is also the post office just next door.

However, the neighbourhood near the train station is the most non-descriptive and boring out of all the areas in Kyoto. There are so many more other areas in Kyoto which would be equally as convenient and yet be more interesting to stay at.

The ryokan has a few levels and there is an elevator which is convenient if you have huge luggage.
The lounge area is very small. There are a few computers around the place with free internet access which is very useful. There is actually wifi that you can use on your phone- you need to find a small label nearby the computer stations for the password.
Landlady speaks very reasonable English.

The room itself was a reasonable size for the price. No view. There is a tv, small fridge and a kettle for tea making. As it was a tatami room we had futons instead of beds.
Room was clean.
Bathroom was extremely small - it's difficult to squeeze around into the bath tub to shower and it used a share shower head as the sink. Bathroom amenities minimal - a hand shower gel and bottle of shampoo.
Towels provided but were quite small.
There is a coin laundry on one of the levels but there is a time restriction to use the washing machine and dryer to minimise noise.

Kyoraku ryokan felt more like a hostel rather than a ryokan.
I have experienced various types of ryokan stays at different price ranges but this definitely feels like a hostel that calls itself a ryokan because it offers tatami rooms and futon beds.

Firstly, no dinner meals provided.
There is an option for breakfast which we did not take up which appeared on the website to be just too expensive for the actual value.

The landlady was polite enough but not extremely helpful.
Futons are not laid out for you at night. Futon itself was just ok. I have slept in some of the more "heavenly" ones which can be better than hotel beds.
No hot bath (shared or otherwise) to soak in.

It is missing all the service and little gestures that I have come to expect from a ryokan. No hot tea to welcome you. No introduction to the room and amenities available. No one to help you with luggage. Greetings in the morning are far and few in between.

Generally, no sense of "coming home" that a ryokan usually makes me feel.
Ryokan Kyoraku is just another place to sleep after a day out.
It was not even one of the cheaper places to sleep at. (Business hotels would provide a place to sleep at a better price)

So unless you really want to stay near the train station as you are making frequent trips out of Kyoto or if you are happy to stay at a place that calls itself a Ryokan just because they have tatami rooms - there are plenty other options out there in Kyoto.

I would think twice about returning to this "ryokan".

Date of stay: October 2011
  • Trip type: Traveled with friends
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2  Thank yees
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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