We travelled to Kyoto in December and It was the peak season in Japan. Thus, the prices of the air tickets and accommodation were all marked up. I had a tough time searching for accommodation in Kyoto as most of the most affordable hotels were either fully booked or costs way beyond our budget. Our choices for accommodation is further narrowed down when Sam requested for us to stay in a ryokan. It made sense for us to stay in a traditional Japanese Inn since there were plenty of beautiful ryokans in Kyoto.
Our Accommodation in Kyoto: Gion Ryokan Q-beh
In the end, after a round of intensive research, we settled for this ryokan called Gion Ryokan Q-beh. We booked a twin bedroom in this ryokan through Agoda for about SGD80+ per night. It was a good price considering that the location is rather close to some of the popular attractions in Kyoto. The only inconvenience is that our room does not come with a private bathroom attached. We would have to use the common bathroom. Most importantly, this guest inn has garnered many positive reviews on Agoda. The ratings for Gion Ryokan Q-beh were pretty good so why not?
The moment we touch down Kansai International airport, we walked towards the train station to catch a train straight to Kyoto. By the time we reached the airport, it was already about 5.30 pm. We had to get to Gion Ryokan Q-beh before 9 pm as their reception closes at 9 pm.
So we quickly bought JR Haruka Express train tickets at the ticketing booth and went down to the platform which heads towards Kyoto station. The train ticket costs about SGD35 each and that was pretty expensive. We could have saved some money if we had used our ICOCA cards instead.
But I guess we were unsure back then as we were so overwhelmed by all the Japanese signages which seemed so foreign to us. Since there were no clear directions or instructions in English at the train station, I had to approach the train station master who knew little English for help. Though there is a JR information counter, there was a long line of tourists waiting to purchase their ICOCA cards or train tickets. Time was ticking and we had to get our tickets fast.
We took the wrong train.
Little did we know that we would get lost in a frenzy and ended up getting stuck outside our accommodation in Kyoto? To cut the long story short, we waited at the correct platform for the train bound for Kyoto to come but we did not know that it was a shared platform for another train heading to Osaka city. Oh! Silly us. We boarded the wrong train and had to make a detour.
At the point in time, I felt quite anxious as I was afraid that we could not reach our accommodation in time. But when our train bound for Kyoto came, my spirits were up again. It was a Hello Kitty JR Haruka Express train! It was the cutest train ever. Maybe we could reach there in time?
The train ride took about an hour. When we reached Kyoto station, I had to purchase an ICOCA card so that I can take the public bus to Gion. Even though we had data and could access to Google Maps, we still had to ask around and figure our way to the bus station. Google Maps isn’t entirely helpful either as it led us to the wrong bus station. Once again, we had to make a detour back to Kyoto station. The bus stop was actually just right outside the station!
We took bus 206 to Gion district and walked for another 10 minutes before we reached the ryokan. It was 9.10 pm and the reception was closed. The doors were locked and we could not get in. (It turns out that they have actually provided us with the security key code to enter the ryokan via email but I did not check my inbox!)
I remembered that it was terribly cold outside. we knocked really hard on the door for about 5 minutes before one kind soul came to save us. It was a lady who was also a guest staying there. She passed us our room keys and documents which their staff has prepared for us. It was such a relief!
Settling into our accommodation in Kyoto
The ryokan was actually pretty decent. It has a homely vibe to it and most important of all, it is very clean and tidy.
There are two floors and each has about 4 to 5 rooms. Other than the common bathroom and toilets, there is also a common living area and kitchen. There is also a hot tub where you can soak yourself in but we did not manage to check that out.
The Reception Area
The reception opens at 8 am. So we can only officially check-in the next day. Nonetheless, we have already paid for our accommodation through Agoda. We only need to pay the accommodation tax imposed by the government. It costs us about SGD 15 for our 4-day 3-night stay.
Our Twin Room
It is literally the size of my bedroom back at my 2-room HDB flat in Singapore. Small but cosy. There are cupboards in one corner to put your items but they looked unkempt and very dusty. So we just place our luggage on top of the cupboards.
The air-conditioner has a heater function. Thank goodness. Because the temperatures can drop to as low as 4-degree Celsius in the evenings.
There’s wifi in our room and the Wifi signal is quite strong. We have no problems with going online.
Each level has a common bathroom area which is equipped with two shower cubicles. You will find bath toiletries like shampoo and body soap. They also provide towels. But I am not sure if we are allowed to change towels every day.
The showers cubicles and toilets are cleaned on a daily basis. And they even provide extra clean floor mats right outside the shower cubicle.
Common bathroom area
There are hairdryers for guests to use so you don’t have to worry about washing your hair late in the evening.
Even though most of the rooms are probably occupied, I did not find myself in a situation where I have to wait for my turn to use the toilet or shower.
The Living Area and Kitchen
The living space is actually very spacious. There are more seating areas beside the kitchen area. You can make a cup of green tea or coffee for yourself. If you are feeling thirsty, you can drink hot water from the flask. The host told us that the tap water is safe to drink so we drank their tap water.
You can also use the utensils, bowls, plates and other kitchenware found in the kitchen. But you will need to wash and dry the dishes then placed them back to the respective drawers.
Complimentary green tea, black tea and coffee
Lawson’s is about a 5-minute walk away.
If you need to get some food or snacks, there’s actually a convenience store just down the main street. Since we have not eaten dinner after checking in, we decided to walk over to Lawson’s to get some cup noodles. Boy, the Nissin cup noodles in Japan are way tastier than the ones sold in Singapore!
Though I am not a fan of instant noodles, I could resist trying some of Japan’s popular cup noodles which come in so many different flavours. All of them were yummy and filling.
Our Verdict: It is a good and affordable accommodation in Kyoto.
All in all, we enjoyed our stay at Gion Ryokan Q-beh. Since we were out travelling around Kyoto for the most part of the day, we only went back to our accommodation to sleep. It provided us with a basic level of comfort and for $80 per night, we could not ask for more. It is exactly close to any subway station but it is within walking distance from the popular Gion district and famous temples like Kiyomizu-dera temple.
If you are travelling to Kyoto on a tight budget, you can consider staying at Gion Ryokan Q-beh. It is very value for money.
Heading to Japan soon? Check out our 7-day travel itinerary for Kyoto and Japan!