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Kyoto: hotel choices, guides,day trip to Nara

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Hi, We are a family of 4, with 2 kids, ages 19 and 23. This is likely the last "family"trip we take.
I have gotten good advice from Fodorites in the past and wanted to get your input on hotels in Kyoto. We just started planning a couple of weeks ago and will be in Kyoto 12/23-27/14.

hotel choice:
We will be coming from Miyajima that morning after 2 days spent there in a ryokan. Many of the hotels that have been mentioned on the blog are already full. Would it be better to find a hotel in the northern or southern sector? any recommendations? We are fit and not bothered by walking, but my understanding is that the temples are not walking distance apart and most folks use a bus or taxi. Is that correct? Does anyone have experience with an apartment? That might be a good option for us.

guide recommendations?
Also, we really enjoy having a private guide and were wondering if anyone had someone they would recommend.

Day trip options?
We were considering Nara . Is it different enough that it would be important to see on this our first trip to Japan, 13 days in country? If so, is it a good idea to do as a day trip? I don't want to be doing a lot of one nighters.
Is Koya-san a reasonable option? My son, after being a passive participant in our trips has taken an interest in this one and would like to go there.

I much appreciate your advice!
Evelyn

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