If you travel around Japan enough you will appreciate two things. First, not all hotel desks are totally fluent in English. The Hotel Gimmond's desk staff are not only completely fluent in English, but they are very helpful and patient. They will make you restaurant reservations and give you any other assistance you need. Since it was the Thanksgiving Labor Day weekend, many restaurants were quite busy. By the way, this weekend many of the guests were Japanese so this is not just a hotel for Western tourists. I prefer to not be surrounded by other foreign tourists when traveling.
Second point, typically Japanese hotel rooms are small, clean and utilitarian. Hotel Gimmond is no different. You don't get a lot of space and you might have to put a large piece of luggage on the bed to open it. There is a small desk, a small TV (not much in English) and small table. When we are in Kyoto, we are gone almost sun up to sundown. We might regroup before dinner to rest our feet, but we are soon back out. It is true the decor is a outdated, but the price/value equation is outstanding.
The location is a great point to explore Pontocho, the Nishiki market and the shopping on Shijo Street. We found hotels closer to these areas and Gion to be much more expensive particularly during holidays and high season. Hotel Gimmond is actually just West enough that you are not in an area with throngs of tourists. There are several laid back restaurants izakayas and other ethnic cuisines in the area. Since we need good coffee and a small bakery item in the morning to get started, there is an international bakery named Paul just to the South next to the Museum of Kyoto. We were able to use the ATM at the 7-11 across the street. Not all of our cards worked here, but there is a Citibank just West of the corner of Karasuma and Shijo.
When you get off the train at Kyoto station, you jump on the subway and head to Karasumaoike station. The hotel is a short walk from the station. We have stayed near the train station before and we prefer being closer to downtown. If you want to day trip to Osaka, Nara and other areas, you can still get to the train station very quickly.
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