Where to stay: Cheap & cozy in Kyoto

Around this time last year, we were looking for accommodations in Kyoto and Tokyo. Since we were on a budget, P and I had accepted the fact that we would be staying in a mixed dormitory or at least be sharing toilet/bath facilities with other travelers in a hostel or inn.

We found IchiEnSou in Hostelworld.com. It was (still is) highly rated, looked like a cozy Japanese home (which it was originally back in 1920), cheaper compared to ryokans and other inns in the area, and supposedly had an “idyllic location, one street off the main street in the most famous Geisha district in Kyoto, called Gion.” All the previous guests that booked through the website had left positive reviews–confirming that it had a great location, that it had a warm and cozy atmosphere, and special mention to the owners who took their guests on walking tours around the neighborhood. That did it. I booked two beds in the mixed dorm.

Watch out for the small IchiEnSou sign by the bottom of the door

IchiEnSou lived up to its homey reputation. It’s a small wooden guesthouse that I think was able to retain the atmosphere of an old Japanese home, while providing its guests comfort. And the fact that it can only accommodate 11 guests–seven in a mixed dormitory room (with double deck beds) and four in a girls-only traditional Japanese room–it remained cozy and afforded some semblance of privacy.

The beds in the mixed dorm room

The common room-slash-dining area is also lovely, with a few wooden tables and chairs, a little corner with two small cushioned chairs, and a sitting room with a tatami mat.

The common room where we would have our breakfast or dinner of konbini-bought goodies

In one of the corners of the the common room

...and in another corner

Love this lamp/desk by the doorway in the common room

Kitchen/bar by the common room, where the owners can prepare you a simple breakfast or serve drinks should you order. (There is another kitchen for the guests to use with free coffee and tea.)

A problem for some might be the fact that there is only one shower room (very spacious and charming though) and only two toilets (one for females on the second floor, and one for males on the ground floor). But during our stay, even with the guesthouse fully booked, it didn’t become a problem. They were also kept very clean–as the rest of the house was.

What I loved most about this little guesthouse–aside from the very gracious owners –was its location. Yes, it has an idyllic location as promised–a short walking distance from the scenic Kamo River and Shirakawa Canal, Nishiki Market, Pontocho, Yasaka Shrine, Maruyama Park, the Gion district, and the main thoroughfare of Shijo-dori if you need to head downtown. If you’re on a budget and should find yourself in Kyoto, book a bed at IchiEnSou.

Welcome to IchiEnSou!

Address: 4-2 Komatsu-Chou Sijousagaru 4 Choume YamatoOojiDouri Higashiyama-Ku, Kyoto, Japan
Email: welcome@ichiensou.com
Cost: PHP1,698 per bed (Y3,000, around US$38)

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4 thoughts on “Where to stay: Cheap & cozy in Kyoto

  1. Great article! Hostelworld.com is a GREAT website! I used it when I was traveling in Vietnam and Cambodia. It’s definitely my “go-to” site for backpacking and finding good hostels.

    • You’re going to Kyoto? How exciting! I also didn’t get to stay in the traditional room with tatami mats but I still had a nice stay. Hope you have a wonderful trip. I’m so jealous! (Hope you can blog about it when you get back, hehe)

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