Kyoto: Ryokan or Hotel

Old Sep 23rd, 2004, 06:33 PM
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Kyoto: Ryokan or Hotel

We shall be travelling in Kyoto in the latter part of March and wonder whether any of you have any opinions as to whether we should book a hotel (e.g. Westin Miyako) or a ryokan (e.g. Tawaraya)?
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Old Sep 23rd, 2004, 06:56 PM
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People have alot of different opinions on ryokans vs. hotels. I have not been to Kyoto yet but I am also going the later part of March and have been doing research for months, also asking myself the same question after reviewing quite possibly every archived Japanese post on here for way too long. My answer has been to "know thyself"-- I have to decide what I want to get out of the experience I have there and what is most important for the most enjoyment of the trip. I know others have said it just isn't a Japanese experience without staying in a ryokan. We will be staying at the Westin Miyako for most of our stay for many reasons, including using hotel points. But even if I didn't have the Starwood points, I know myself well enough to know that I do not sleep well when traveling to start with, and I will be in Asia for the first time, I also don't sleep well close to the floor whether it is a comfortable mat or a full mattress on the floor, and worst of all I get very cranky without enough sleep. So we are staying in the western part of the hotel, but are reserving one night at the end of the trip in a ryokan, to have that experience when sleep interference won't matter as much. That is a personal matter, but I think for me it is important to know myself, not what others say has to be the best or right experience. People have many reasons to want to stay at a western hotel or a ryokan. And ultimately all that matters is what the best experience is for them, IMO-- after all , it is their trip. I don't know how anyone could have an opinion on whether you should book a hotel or ryokan. They can only offer you their own experience, and let you make up your own mind.
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Old Sep 23rd, 2004, 07:38 PM
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I cna't decide for you, but you may ask yourself the following questions:

Do you speak any japanese or have you read up an Ryokan culture? these high end ryokans have English speaking staff, but they are primarily a Japanese thing.

Do you feel comfortable with staff being in your room. Your maid will come in a lot- to serve your meals, to lay out your beds, etc., and the owner may stop in to say hi during your first dinner as well.

Do you like japanese food? The food, dinner in particular, will be very authentic. The breakfast can be ordered western style if you choose, but will still be 'different'.

Do you mind a schedule? Ryokans serve dinner only during certain hours, and breakfast as well, and shoo you out part of the day.

Do you love comfortable, warm beds that don't have legs and rest directly on the lovely fragrant tatami?

Do you love soaking in a deep, cedar bath, then jumping into a crispy robe, and being served dinner in your room?

Do you love old buildings that have been lovingly maintained, while understanding that you are expected to keep your voices low and the heater may or may not totally compensate for the sliding doors opening to a private garden?

Can you afford $700 per night?

If so, stay at one of these ryokan, and experience one of japan's finest customs.

You know, this is not the only way to experience sleeping on futons...you cna also opt for a Japanese style room in a regular hotel. For a lot less money- as a lot of the cost of a top ryokan is the food and service- many places can give you the Japanese bedroom.

If you are not really into authentic food, this may be a much better option. Just ask regular hotels if they have Japanese style rooms. Many do.
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Old Sep 23rd, 2004, 11:52 PM
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Bonjour Pancho-Cisco,

Lcuy's 4 first questions are perfectly legitimate and you should answer them before taking your decision. Her 4 last questions are totally biased in order to induce you to make the correct choice ;-)

Seriously, you can make a perfectly authentic Japanese experience without ever staying in a ryokan. Many Japanese do prefer staying in western style hotels nowaday, and will stay in ryokans only for a couple nights. The only concern you should have is your confort, and Emd has perfectly summarised an excellent way to look at things: follow your heart, legs, back, and sleep patterns, and enjoy your trip.
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Old Sep 24th, 2004, 03:46 AM
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Both, assuming that you are staying in Kyoto at least two nights.

You could stay at the Westin for a night or two. Leave your bags at the Westin and just take what you need for an overnight stay at Tawaraya. Come back to the Westin for the rest of your stay in Kyoto.

The Tawaraya has been in the family for 11 generations:
http://www.frommers.com/destinations/kyoto/H30905.html
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Old Sep 24th, 2004, 04:55 PM
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I agree with mrwunrfl-do both!
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Old Sep 24th, 2004, 05:04 PM
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yeah, instead of being shoo'd out the following day, you will just head back for a nap on a heavenly bed at the Westin.
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Old Oct 5th, 2004, 07:26 PM
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Hi just back from Japan and I agree totally with all the responses...can I add another consideration...privacy with "washroom"...? We stayed in a moderate ryokan at the end of our trip which I agree is the way to go.
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