Skip to content
Please select your location:


Kyoto, Japan


This famous historic inn, over 300 years old, is commonly regarded as simply the best ryokan in Japan. The word 'simply' has particular relevance here, as the charm lies in its understated elegance and straightforward approach to hospitality. From the moment you arrive, you are immediately eased in to the relaxing atmosphere by always attentive but never overbearing staff. It is unlikely that you will come across other guests, as the pampering really does appear purely for you and you alone. Each guest room, it must be said, is sparse, and therein lies the elegance. The clear lines and void spaces demand peace, but when you begin to explore your room more deeply, you will find a fridge, a flat-screen TV and most other amenities discreetly stowed away behind delicate shoji paper screens or sliding cupboards so as not to spoil the aesthetic of the room.

Much is made outside of Japan about the art of feng shui (Chinese by birth but embraced by the Japanese) and the Tawaraya is a perfect example of how the aesthetics and planning of a room or indeed entire building can affect the atmosphere within. Integral to ryokan's architecture is the central Japanese garden, which changes in character along with the changing seasons. Rooms look out over or open directly on to the garden and it is quite serene at dusk. There is a prevailing sense of calm and quiet at the Tawaraya and a stay here should leave you rested and revived, aided not least by the solid hinoki wood baths in each room which are ideal for soaking away the hectic sightseeing that Kyoto often demands.

Dinner is as important as your sleeping arrangements here, with perfect kaiseki cuisine served nightly in your room by your personal kimono-clad attendant. Each course (usually five or six savoury and one sweet) uses local ingredients or seasonal delicacies and the flavours and textures are carefully balanced so as not to overwhelm the palate. Your meal will usually consist of a sashimi appetiser, a main fish course, a smaller meat course, a main meat dish, tofu, vegetables and a sweet of bean paste cake or seasonal fruit. There will likely be items that are unrecognisable or unusual in taste or texture but each will have been carefully prepared in-house for you that day, so it is worth trying everything at least once!

OUR RATING: First Class

Speak to someone
who's been there
Audley Travel specialist Jo

Start planning your tailor-made trip by contacting one of our Japan specialists

Tour ideas in Kyoto

Our itineraries are there to spark ideas for how you could include a stay at Tawaraya as part of your trip. Treat them simply as suggestions, because every aspect of the trip we create for you will be yours to define.

Location & places nearby

Places & hotels on the map

    Alternative places to stay nearby

    Where possible, we like to offer a range of accommodation for each stop of your trip, chosen by our specialists as some of their favourite places to stay. To help you make the right choice, we give each property a rating based on its facilities and service, but we also look for hotels with distinct character or a location that can't be bettered.

    • Exterior, Four Seasons Kyoto
      Responsible Choice

      Four Seasons Hotel Kyoto


    Experiences while staying here

    The following activities are designed to give you the most authentic experiences of the area where you're staying. We work with local guides, who use their knowledge and often a resident's eye to show you the main sights and more out-of-the-way attractions. Our specialists can also suggest outdoor pursuits and activities, such as cooking classes, that will introduce you to the traditions of the area's inhabitants.

    • Dinner with Maiko Performance
      A Maiko and a Geiko during the Geisha Night at the Gion Hatanaka

      Dinner with Maiko Performance

      Dinner with Maiko Performance

      Maiko are trainee Geisha (Geiko in Kyoto dialect) who train for six years before becoming fully fledged Geisha. They learn skills such as dance, singing, instrument playing as well as how to entertain guests with conversation.

      View details
    • Geisha District Walk
      Romon Gate, Fushimi Inari, Kyoto

      Geisha District Walk

      Geisha District Walk

      Explore around the Gion district and other parts of Kyoto to help shed some light on the exclusive and mysterious world of the Geisha and other aspects of Japanese culture.

      View details
    • Kyoto Cultural Experience
      Ikebana flower arrangement

      Kyoto Cultural Experience

      Kyoto Cultural Experience

      Take the opportunity to learn more about a traditional Japanese pastime of your choice. These courses are instigated and run by the Women's Association of Kyoto and you will visit the home of one of the members.

      View details

    Kyoto and nearby places