Between the end of March and the beginning of April, Kyoto turns into a cotton candy-hued spectacle with its pink Sakura bloom. Since warm temperatures of spring cause a wave of blooms to appear from the beginning of January in Okinawa, Kyoto is not the only spot in Japan to see these stunning trees. However, its alluring traditional attractions and stunning natural landscapes make it one of the best places to continue a celebration that’s existed since the 8th century. Maruyama Park, Kamo River, Imperial Palace Park and Philosopher’s Path are favorite places to see the blossoms, and these are the best places to stay.
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Refreshing, traditional, and oh so cozy, Hiiragiya is full of attention to detail that makes for a magical stay. Pine soaking tubs in suite bathrooms, carved transom windows, wooden ceiling, age old decor and hand painted screens are just a few of the accents that make this place so special. Before heading out to explore, you’ll get to enjoy a Japanese breakfast served in authentic dishes, at a low table with floor seating, in your own room.
Insidekyoto.com notes that some areas become “gridlocked” during cherry blossom season, but Kyoto Station, where this hotel resides, is more navigable and convenient. The stunning hotel features basic, yet high-end rooms, and a large selection of amenities from a free breakfast to an indoor gym.
If traditional architecture and modern flare had a baby, it would be Hotel Kanra. Beautifully simple, the hotel has wooden accents but more updated beds, tables and other amenities—it’s a wonderful hybrid. Also near Kyoto Station, it’s effortless to navigate to other districts, while also being just outside the madness of the season.
Service here is impeccable, with regular tea service and even an awaiting hot bath upon arrival. Private gardens wind about the streamline wooden ryokan, creating that beautiful style most crave to experience upon visiting Japan. And what would a full rounded Kyoto experience be without incredible food? That’s where the ten-course traditional kaiseki dinner served right within your own room comes in.
Taking a break from ryokan options, Kyoto Hotel Okura is an upscale option with airy, western style rooms. So if you really are just here for the blossoms and would rather lodge somewhere more like home, you can’t go wrong with this one. While the look is less traditional, there’s still a nice blend of regional and international foods available to guests. A breakfast buffet features made to order dishes, like awesome omelets, while offering gorgeous mountain and river views from dining area windows.
A real Japanese breakfast is the star of Sawaya Honten, a simple hotel with expected Japan aesthetics and accommodations. Guests tout the meal as being the culinary highlight of their trip, which is saying a lot considering all the deliciousness awaiting in Japan. Ten small dishes such as fermented soy beans, miso soup, rice, seaweed and other vegetables round out the healthy, filling meal.
Only a 10-15 jaunt to Philosophers Path, Ryokan Yoshida Sanso Hotel Kyoto is set within a traditional 1930s Japanese building. A lot of the furniture and accents inside the structure are antique, adding to the enriching environment. Breakfast is included and guests can enjoy tea in a cozy mountain and garden view area.
Soak in an onsen, a Japanese hot spring, while breathing in the fresh air and taking in the garden foliage. Rooms are accented with tatami mats, tea rooms and Japanese aesthetics, so it’s the real deal experience. If you’re feeling adventurous, go all out with a room offering a private onsen, and personal garden glimpses.
A Harmonious blend of luxury and authenticity, the location has a lovely Japanese tea house and superb Japanese, Chinese and even French cuisine. Each level of the hotel has unique offerings, and the rooms are more like something you’d find in the US, with typical mattress bed. Near the Kyoto Botanical Garden, there’s plenty of cherry blossom trees to see.
Right across the street from Maruyama Park. Short walk to Kamo River, Yasaka Shrine and Kōdai-ji temple. This quaint Ryokan offers clean-cut, simple lodging, which equipped with a fantastic restaurant offering all kinds of traditional eats. Guests can experience a lot culinary and culturally without ever leaving the hotel. To top it off there’s also an onsen on site.
Wallet saving dorm rooms or authentic Japanese townhouses, Guest House Ga-Jyun embodies basic tradition along with seriously comfy looking bunk beds and cozy lounge areas. A free breakfast is included with your stay and includes a variation of choices like miso soup, rice or fruit. Guests note the proximal location near the train makes it even more ideal for avid travelers.
Now to the grand finally—a breathtaking structure only accessible via a small paddle boat. Still close to prominent blossom peeking spots, the destination surrounded by native foliage and the Katsura River, is unparalleled. Inside you’ll sleep on authentic bedding and dine on traditional chabudai tables, while a spa is also on site. Along with an impeccable restaurant serving cuisine significant to the region’s, guest can enjoy a hot beverage in a floating tearoom, which is truly unique. A serene place to escape from it all, this is a reflective, amazing place to experience the season.