We went to Tokyo and Kyoto at the end of September 2009 wanting to experience both modern and traditional Japan. While my partner was not immediately convinced about sleeping on the "floor" in the ryokan, I knew I had to at least experience staying in one when we were in Japan.
What better city to experience a ryokan than in Kyoto. My partner and I both love travelling and staying in beautiful boutique accommodations around the world. We try to avoid chain hotels when we can, and aim for that special one off place that has that X factor.
Yuzuya Ryokan could not have been a more special and phenomenal experience. All you expect out of a traditional ryokan and then more.
First, we wanted a 2 bedroom ryokan since we travelled in Kyoto with my 18-year-old sister. It was difficult to find a nice ryokan with 2 bedrooms that offer a non-shared bathroom/toilet. Yuzuya has that and we stayed in that room (it was called the "Ai" or Blue room). While the size of each room was not huge by international standard hotel room, but it was the biggest I've seen for a ryokan room. The rooms are also very clean and tidy. The main room also works as the living room with a coffee table in the middle and a wooden cupboard in the corner (where they store traditional yukata for you to wear). The little snacks they leave on the table is a nice touch. The main room also has an extended indoor "balcony" area looking out to the main street (Yasaka Jinja Minami Donari), which is adjacent to the little bathroom. The actual bathtub is very small and narrow, so I don't recommend jumping and submerging yourself in it. You could use the very low shower head and the provided wooden stool to sit and shower. Very Japanese!! The second room was a little larger and simple and equally clean. The toilet is clean, and just like anything in a ryokan, the wash basin is small. But they all worked just fine and the toiletries provided were all yuzu (Japanese citrus) infused. Very nice! There's a small TV in the corner of the main room and the room was equipped with air-conditioner which was great because Kyoto was hot and humid! There was no space for a luggage storage (we just put them aside in our room). Overall, we're very happy with the rooms and expected a much smaller room for a ryokan. The fact that it has its own bathroom and toilet is a big plus for us.
At night, they pushed the table aside and made way for the super comfortable futon beds on the tatami floor. They were just the softest and most comfortable thing I've ever slept in. Even my partner loved it. It was like sleeping in clouds.
The price comes with beautiful 8-9 course traditional kaiseki dinner and traditional full breakfast. Both meals were served in their beautiful intimate restaurant on the ground floor. It is an amazing setting you could only understand by being there. Both dinner and breakfast were HUGE! Dinner took around 2 hours max. and there were at least 8 to 9 courses. Breakfast was also very nice and huge but they all kinda came at the same time, followed by coffee or tea. The menu was different to each day, and they were all yuzu inspired again. I was so very impressed with the quality of the food. They served the best ingredients of the season (they served us the very expensive matsutake mushroom and the mouth-watering kyoto beef) and presented them in a very aesthetic yet still traditional way. They use a large ceramic rice cooker/furnace to cook the rice and I couldn't get enough of them, they were so delicate and nice. I liked the fact that we didn't have to eat in our bedroom, as we truly enjoyed dining in their restaurant (donning the lovely yukata of course!)
From the start, we were welcomed by the young man called Hiro with such grace and professionalism, that you'd think he is almost personally responsible of this ryokan. Upon arrival, he asked us to leave all our bags behind by the receptionist and immediately took us to our room on the second floor (by the time we got there, our bags were magically sitting in our room waiting for us too!) - he then offered us cool drinks as he sat and bowed his way through explaining everything we needed to know about staying there. Very very polite, and he spoke very fluent English. He made us feel totally welcomed and I knew right there and then we picked the right ryokan.
During meal times, we were then served by a lovely young lady (I think her name was Aki) and she spoke excellent English and joked with us a few times, and still maintained a high level of professionalism and politeness.
They looked after us so well, even with little things like extra maps to show you places of interest and how to get there, and lending umbrellas since it was raining all day in Kyoto on the second day, to calling a taxi to take us back to the train station on the last day. Nothing was a trouble for them. On the last day, we walked a lot to cover as much Kyoto as possible in the heat of the day, and were given refreshing cold yuzu drinks when we returned to collect our bags before going to the train station. We had already checked out in the morning and paid everything, and thought this was a very kind gesture from them. We felt truly lucky and spoilt by Yuzuya, and would recommend this place in a heartbeat to anyone who wants to experience the highest standard of a traditional ryokan.
Their wi-fi only works on the ground floor (restaurant and receptionist). There is a same-sex onsen facility (with yuzu!) on the ground floor, but we didn't have the time to try it this time. All of their rooms, I think, are on the second floor. The hotel wouldn't have been very easy to find, had I not done my research on Google Street View map. It is exactly right next to Yasaka Shrine, and the entrance gate was so small, you would walk and miss it. A few steep and narrow (can be a bit slippery if raining) steps to get from the street level to the actual doors of the establishment. There's no disability access, I think. There's also a bus stop right outside the ryokan, and a few others around the area, which is very handy if you plan to wander around Kyoto using a bus. It's located in beautiful Gion, which is the old traditional part of the city.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC