Japan’s Nara city is an ideal haven with its free-roaming deer, crystal-clear ponds, and overhanging cherry blossoms. The general populace is friendly, the food is delectable, and the streets are filled with monuments of cultural relevance. Everyone should visit this place at least once in their lifetime. On a sudden urge, when we went to Nara city this summer, we were overwhelmed at first. Which places should we visit? How much should we cover in a day? And, most important of all, where should we stay?
There are a hundred possibilities of residing in Nara, some of which are delineated for your convenience below. Choose whatever appeals to you and suits you best.
Dwelling Choice # 1: Guesthouse
If you would like to tour the wonderful city of Nara, while experiencing the best of Japanese domestic hospitality, then a guesthouse is the right option for you. This way, you will get to eat homemade meals, make long-lasting friendships, and walk around the streets, taking in the culture at first hand. Another plus is the proximity that many guesthouses have to the main attractions of Nara. Top guesthouses include:
Guesth ouse Haru Kitamachi
With a decent grey-brick and white-door entry, this guesthouse has sophisticated dormitories and clean toilets. There is a library in there too, if you get bored and need a nightly read. Other than that, there is free Wi-Fi, laundry facilities, and a cool smoking space. Children are welcome, pets are not. This guesthouse is conveniently located near Kofuku-Ji shrine, Goko-in Temple, Nara National Museum and even Todai-Ji Temple. Just walk over and be marveled.
With a curtained entryway, climbing plants, bicycles parked out front and an easy-going host, this small guesthouse is ideal for backpackers and travelers. It has old-school dormitories with floor bedding, cute shelves full of books and artsy walls. It is definitely a cool place to stay in, centrally positioned, and within the vicinity of Nara Park, train stations, restaurants, and temples.
Nara Ugaya Guesthouse
This one is slightly difficult to locate, but it is well worth the find. The exterior may not be impressive, but the service definitely is, personalized and homely. The best things about the place are the comfortable beds, yummy yet inexpensive porridge breakfast, and the soothing old-Japanese music in the evening, played by the owners. Cool, right? Plus, it is located quite close to the train stations, so traveling to other districts is made relatively easy.
With a dark wood outer look and a humble curtained door, this place is steeped in arts and has super-friendly hosts. There is a calligraphy room, reminiscent of the olden days, with a glass-paned door overlooking the garden’s greenery, and a polished central table that is surrounded by red floor cushions. Other than this, origami is also a hype at this place. The rooms are either in the form of dormitories or furnished with the old-style futon bedding, which makes sense because this place is around a hundred years old, so it’s a cross between past and future. Smoking isn’t allowed, but Wi-Fi is free. It is a short distance away from public baths and famous Kofuku-Ji and Gangoji temples.
Dwelling Choice # 2: Hotel
If you are traveling to Nara on business or plan for a short luxurious stay, then a well-furnished hotel is the best option for you. With its western style décor and top-notch service, you will never feel much farther away from your home. In addition to that, hotels are formal entities, reserving the right to admission, so it is better if you made your reservations beforehand. Head over to their sites and mark your spot. While you’re at it, be sure to avail special connectivity deals from www.localcabledeals.com to stay in touch with your family back home in the easiest way possible, like we did. Top names in this category include:
One of the most recommended places to stay in Nara is this deluxe five-star hotel, which sits atop an ancient hill and overlooks the Nara Park. With a classical Japanese architecture, this place intermixes Western with Eastern. While on the one side, we have wooden ceilings, wall-length windows, quaint garden space, massage center and Japanese dishes, on the other side, we have beds, bath-tubs, coffee chairs, tables and magazines, lamps, LCD TV, wired internet, lounge bar with its famous cocktails, gift shop and curious French cuisine with pastries and all. Known for its wonderful staff and an awesome service, this hotel is a short walk from Isuien Garden and Todai-Ji Temple. Ride a rented bicycle and explore the attractions whenever you want to!
Given four red pavilions by Michelin, this hotel is only second to Nara Hotel, with its western-style accommodation and other sweet features. It has a fitness room where guests can work out, a bar where guests can socialize, aromatherapy sessions where guests can relax, and French/American/Japanese oriented meals that the guests can enjoy. Each room is air-conditioned, has internet access, a TV with movie options, luxurious sofa sets, minibar, music deck, super-clean bathrooms, etc. It is two steps away from Nara Park, a short walk from Kasuga Taisha Shrine and Kintetsu Nara Station.
Hotel Asyl Nara
This is a Michelin awarded hotel as well, especially famous for its clean and spacious rooms. Its entrance is mind-blowing with its contrast of a stone-embossed wall enveloping a delicate glass double door. The staff is super-kind and thoroughly attentive. The rooms have western furnishings with soft Japanese lighting. Each room includes an attached bathroom, a sofa set, and a personalized fridge. The hotel library has an impressive collection, and plushy chairs, where you can sit, relax and read. The best thing about this place is the spectacular morning breakfast, featuring freshly squeezed fruit juice, and tasty Japanese dishes. After refreshing yourself, you can actually walk to the famous Todai-Ji and Kofuku-Ji temples, which are located quite near.
This hotel has a western-style exterior and a Japanese interior. It is not exactly a five-star hotel and not exactly a ryokan, but a mix between the two. There are two sorts of rooms available: Western replicated rooms with beds, sofa sets, LCD TV and clean tiled-bathrooms included, and Japanese old-style rooms with futon bedding, yukata-type clothing, and green tea service. The greatest thing about this place is the indoor onsen, which is a hot spring bath, meant to relax the body and relieve knots in the muscles. It’s ideally located about a fifteen-minute stroll from Todai-Ji Temple, about a ten-minute walk from Isuien Garden, and an extremely short distance from the wonderful Nara Park.
Dwelling Choice # 3: Ryokan
If you would like to immerse yourself completely in the rich culture of Nara, step into the shoes of its inhabitants, feel what they feel, think what they think, and experience life like them, then a ryokan is the best option for you. It is a traditional Japanese inn, where you can undo your western apparel, don the flowing yukata (kimono) and wear the soft slippers or at best, the geta (wooden clogs). The rooms are quite simple, with a reed matting on the floor, and separated by paper slide doors. Some also have crystal-clear fishponds out back, even onsen (hot springs). It is a totally enlightening experience.
At the heart of a primeval forest, surrounded by an undisturbed nature, away from the fast-paced and techno-crazed civilization, there lies a quaint little ryokan, going by the name of Tsukihitei. It is a place where time runs relatively slowly, where each minute means something, where life-lessons are learned amongst trees, and in a simple dressing. With tatami flooring, wooden ceiling, futon bedding, olden baths, homely service and traditional kaiseki dinners, this place is as peaceful as it gets. You can hike through the woods and walk to Kasuga Taisha Shrine or the famous Todai-Ji Temple, drive to train stations and whatnot.
Sitting on the slanting slopes of Mt. Wakakusayama, this ryokan is famous for its soul-pleasing outdoor pools, and panoramic views of the whole city. There are private baths too, ceramic-lined and attached to each room. Indoor hot springs, both segregated and mixed, have restorative minerals, which heal the body and sharpen the senses. There is a massage service too in the old-Japanese style. Fresh local ingredients are utilized to create food from scratch that have a flavor of their own. This ryokan is located in a close proximity to the famous Kasugayama Primeval Forest, and a few minutes away from the Todai-Ji Temple.
This ryokan is situated between Kintetsu Nara Station and Isuien Garden. Right from the first look, it appeals to the senses because of its simplistic and artistic décor. The front is a beautiful contrast between a dark wood lattice wall and a blue curtained door. Just like other ryokans, it has its fair share of baths, traditional Japanese cuisine and accommodation, free internet service and relaxing massages, but it is slightly tilted towards the modern side. So, if you’re hesitant to completely forego your western style and wish to keep some remnant of it, this ryokan is best for you.
If you’re into experiencing traditional Japanese lifestyle with a Western twist, then Asukaso is perfect for you, as well. It is a modern ryokan, lined with sweet cherry blossoms, and boats western accommodation, along with Japanese style rooms. There are open-air baths, having rejuvenating minerals mixed in the warm water, overlooking a wonderful multistoried pagoda. Meals are seasonal in nature and freshly prepared. It is a short distance from train stations, which you easily access in order to go and explore further places.
An ideal dwelling makes exploring the mysteries hidden in the city quite easy, doesn’t it?
So, what are you waiting for? Let this article guide you on your quest.
Rimsha Ather is a professional writer with two years’ worth of practical experience in content creation, curation, and marketing. Her blogging interests range from technology to travel, with the latter gaining special attention from the readers. On the side, she is a metal-enthusiast, an occasional painter and a culinary freak with flavorsome stories up her sleeve.
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