Gion Yoshi-ima, Kyoto

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Gion Yoshi-ima is a family-run ryokan in the heart of the resplendent Gion district.  Reassuringly simple and traditional – perhaps even a little rough around the edges – the Yoshi-ima is a genuine Japanese inn, occupying a sublime historical building in one of Kyoto’s most celebrated neighbourhoods.  The staff go out of their way to explain the history of Kyoto, the etiquette of the public baths, and the heritage of Gion itself.

All rooms feature the elements you would expect from a Japanese-style room: tatami mats on the floor, a short-legged chabudai table with zaisu chairs, comfortable futon beds for sleeping.  Modern conveniences have not been omitted though, and rooms have a modest but private en-suite, air-conditioning and speedy WiFi.  A multi-course, delicious dinner is served to you in your room each evening – though a cute dining room can be used if there’s a group of you looking to feast together.  Dietary restrictions and requirements are accommodated if advised in advance.  A beautiful garden is hidden away in the central courtyard, complete with ancient lime trees and a quaint teahouse.  You can enjoy an exclusive tea ceremony – or sado – here by candlelight, for an intimate cultural experience.  The ryokan even has its own Buddhist alter room, practically a museum, with a number of curios and heirlooms on display.

If you’re lucky you may even spot the occasional geiko (geisha) scamper past the window of the inn, reminding you how much of a blessing it is to stay in such an envious location.

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