Nara is Japan’s 1300-year-old, deer-loving first capital centered around the incredible Nara-kōen park. Located just 45km south of Kyoto, the 7th-century AD-founded city was established as the ‘Citadel of Peace’. And while most itineraries might dismiss it as a day trip, it has so much for travelers to explore. In fact, the city houses the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Historic Monuments of Ancient Nara featuring a primeval forest, a Palace, Shinto shrine, and five Buddhist temples! So, you need more than just a day to exploring this enchanting city. What’s more, the hotels in Nara, Japan range from age-old ones to traditional ryokans to luxurious hot spring ones, resulting in some truly unique accommodations.
The fact that Nara is a quieter and more compact city unlike sprawling cities like Kyoto and Tokyo makes it all the more exciting to explore. So, where should you put your feet up in Nara? Well, most of the accommodations lie in the city center areas between the Nara Train Station and Deer Park. Not only are there lots of choices in the area, but this is also where most of Nara’s attractions like the Nara Museum and Kōfuku-Ji and Todaiji complexes lie. For those looking for secluded solitude, there are also a few gorgeous accommodations within the confines of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Kasugayama Primeval Forest.
We’ve solved your conundrum by compiling a list of the 11 best hotels in Nara, Japan that’ll definitely have you begging to stay one more night!
The Kasuga Hotel is probably Nara’s finest-located hotel that offers a mix of ryokan (traditional Japanese place of stay) and Western hospitality and services. It lies right next to Kintetsu-Nara Station while being close to all of the city’s amazing attractions too.
What’s special about Kasuga Hotel is that it offers a mix of Western and traditional Japanese-style rooms. The former feature tatami straw mat flooring, which is a staple in traditional ryokans, and futon beds too. One has the choice of both budget rooms and even a room with a private outdoor bath that enjoys city views. Nevertheless, all rooms feature a slew of mod-cons. What’s more, Kasuga hotel even has indoor and outdoor hot-spring baths, traditionally known as ‘onsen’ for hotel guests to relax. Plus, room sizes are huge enough to sleep up to six people, making the Kasuga Hotel ideal for larger groups and/or families.
Moreover, Kasuga Hotel also offers a real taste of the country with Yukata bathing robes and green tea. and Yukata robes provided. Likewise, the on-site restaurant also serves a delicious Japanese breakfast for you to begin your day on a high note.
It’s easy to see why the Nara Hotel is so popular with travelers to the city. Apart from being one of the oldest hotels in Nara, Japan, it lies in a 100-year+ heritage structure. Moreover, the hotel has played host to many prominent personalities like Richard Nixon and Albert Einstein.
There’s much to admire about the architecture of this hotel. To begin with, the warm, inviting hues beautifully complement the large floor-to-ceiling windows. The hotel has classic elements of Japanese architecture, fireplaces, antique furniture, vintage trinkets, and even a charming tearoom. Additionally, the hotel even features a restaurant serving both local and French cuisine, a glamorous bar, a gift shop, meeting rooms, and even in-room massage services.
Guests at the hotel are treated no less than royalty. The rooms blend style and traditional architecture and range in sizes from small standard twins to larger deluxe ones. Moreover, all rooms have views of the surrounding foliage and the deer park. For those who don’t mind splurging, the luxurious royal suite will do nicely. All in all, this place is an atmospheric base perfect for exploring the ancient city.
What’s more, the place lies atop a hill at the edge of Nara Park, making most of the city’s attractions accessible. The hotel even rents out electric-powered bikes to explore the top sights and attractions of Nara.
If you’re looking for luxury digs in Nara, then the Asukasou Ryokan is where you need to head to. The elegant and chic ryokan sits lies right on the edge of the iconic Nara-Koen Park. It perfectly combines luxury with accessibility and is an excellent base to explore the city.
One has the choicest of rooms to select from while staying at Asukasou Ryokan. The ryokan has standard, deluxe, and grand Japanese-style rooms with tatami-mat floors as well as wooden floors. Plus, all of them either feature low beds or futons for sleeping. What’s more, some of them are even simple single rooms, while others are large enough to comfortably sleep up to four people. If you choose to stay in a place with a tatami-mat floor, you can eat in-room, just like in a ryokan. The rooms also feature other aspects of Japanese designs like large windows for natural light, floor-level dining tables, and paper screens.
Apart from the accommodation, the hotel has other amenities as well. Perhaps the most amazing aspect is the rooftop onsens, which make for serene spots for relaxation. The baths offer guests spectacular views of the five-story pagoda of the Kofukuji Temple, which is lit-up at night.
Hotel New Wakasa
There’s no experience in Japan like the onsen (hot-spring) experience. And, Hotel New Wakasa is easily one of the loveliest hot-spring hotels in Nara, Japan. It is a cross between a contemporary hotel and a ryokan and is located enviably right next to Deer Park.
Space might be a premium in the country, but the Hotel New Wakasa provides space at affordable prices with ease. Smaller rooms feature fold-up futons so one gets more elbow room. Large rooms can accommodate up to three people, while the most luxurious ones even come with their own private gardens. Also, depending on the rooms one chooses, one either gets private terraces/balconies or views of the mountains surrounding the city. In addition to that, the rooms have futon bedding and tatami floors as well.
Moreover, most of Nara’s sights are within walking distance. However, the greatest thing about the New Wakasa is the private spa onsen atop the terrace. It boasts striking panoramas of the Todaiji Temple and Mt. Wakakusa.
Mikasa Ryokan is another great place to make your base during your visit to the ethereal Nara. Mikasa lies in the northern part of the Kasugayama Primeval Forest and is the perfect place for being surrounded by rich culture and heritage of Nara. What’s more, you needn’t worry about the remoteness either. A free 10-minute shuttle will get to the heart of town too.
Where else in the world would you get panoramic vistas of gorgeous green foliage right outside your room? At Mikasa, of course. Japanese-style rooms feature tatami-mat floors and traditional futon beds. Modern additions include ensuite bathrooms and flatscreen TVs, while some rooms even have private outdoor baths.
Choose to take a refreshing dip in the open-air onsen or hot spring bath, or relish in a hot meal made with local ingredients. However, that’s not all. In a truly luxurious style, Mikasa offers refreshing dips in open-air hot-spring/onsen baths. Dig into delicious local fare made with fresh local ingredients in a dining room that has gorgeous views of Nara views. A third-floor lobby lounge is perfect to indulge in a little ‘me’ time. Plus, the ryokan even offers relaxing, in-room massage services.
Guesthouse Backpackers Nara
If you’re looking to delve into Japanese heritage and mingle with fellow travelers while at it, we think you’d love Guesthouse Nara Backpackers. The charming guesthouse lies right next to the Nara Prefecture Museum and is a mere 3-minute walk from the Deer Park and World Heritage Site.
The guesthouse is housed in a century-old, impressive traditional Japanese house whose interiors ooze modern sensibilities. Visitors have the options of four and six-bed mixed and female-only dorm rooms as well as small, medium, and large twin private ones. However, what’s different about this guesthouse is that the private rooms boast large windows that overlook the surrounding greenery.
That being said, the communal facilities at Backpackers Nara are equally nice. A comfortable lounge area allows fellow travelers to swap interesting life stories. A shared kitchen is great for whipping up quick meals, while bibliophiles will love the collection of books in the library. Perhaps the most beautiful feature is the large Japanese garden that makes for a serene and tranquil place to spend with your thoughts.
Discover what comfortable luxury living is at the renowned Noborioji Hotel, which is one of the most luxurious hotels in Nara, Japan. In fact, the hotel has been awarded the accolade of ‘4 Red Pavilions’ by Michelin Guide Kansai!
The superb, adults-only accommodation is located conveniently between the Kintetsu Train Station and the UNESCO World Heritage Site. Despite its central location, it radiates an aura of solitude and peace due to its design, setup, and service. Guests can choose between five kinds of rooms, all of which feature state-of-the-art mod-cons and lovely balconies with views of the park. The suite is, without doubt, the best of them all, with two glass walls offering superb views of the verdant vegetation around. Moreover, the chic-looking rooms beautifully blend modern style with old-world glamour and make fr a delightful place to put your feet up.
If that wasn’t enough, the hotel also has a French restaurant and bar that emanates a magical-glamorous vibe. Sink into elegant wooden furniture and admire views out of the large floor-to-ceiling windows while digging into American, French, and traditional local meals. After the end of a long and tiring day, the hotel is also more than happy to book for you a nice aromatherapy massage.
If you like your accommodation to be pared down but with character, you’d do well to choose the iconic Guesthouse Tamura. It is housed in a century-old structure and radiates a quaint, true-blue charm that is as endearing as it is inimitable. What’s more, even with the structure having been renovated recently, it still retains much of its original beauty and character.
The guesthouse-hostel features equally charming Japanese-style dorms and private rooms with a retro twist to them. All of them feature traditional tatami-mat flooring, low seating tables, and even futon-style bedding. Moreover, the dorm rooms’ beds are separated by curtains for privacy.
What makes your stay at the Guesthouse Tamura memorable is the hospitality and warmth of the staff. That, and the delicious local breakfast that is served every morning with great love. Plus, they even serve free coffee and welcome you to take fruit from their very own homegrown orchard garden right outside. Since it lies right next to the Deer Park, there are often deer that wander in next door. Furthermore, all the attractions in the UNESCO World Heritage Site are within walking distance.
Those looking for a romantic and secluded place to put up shouldn’t miss out on Tsukihitei Ryokan, which is one of the coziest hotels in Nara, Japan. This lux ryokan lies right in the very heart of the Kasuga Primeval Forest. Do you know why this ryokan is primed for romance? It has only three rooms!
Rooms at Tsukihitei all have tatami-mat floors, shoji paper screens, and Japanese-style decor like futon beds while offering panoramic views of the Kasugayama forest. Moreover, they all have their own private bathrooms outfitted with modern touches. What’s more, the hotel serves in-room Japanese-style kaiseki meals for both breakfast and dinner. So, you can enjoy a lovely meal in your partner’s company while enjoying panoramas of Nara
However, the most romantic aspect of staying at this ryokan is the presence of two private cypress onsens. If you’re uncomfortable at a public onsen, then you will love the privacy of the ones at Tsukihitei. Plus, most of Nara’s attractions are a mere 5-10-minute walk from the property.
History and culture buffs will absolutely love staying at the Guesthouse Naramachi, which is a hostel and restaurant. This iconic, former 160-year-old soy sauce factory is one of the most popular ‘speakeasy’ bars and cultural property in Nara. It is also a guesthouse and is one of the worthiest places to dive headlong into the rich culture of the city.
The hostel and restaurant are housed in what is a converted 20th-century merchant. It lies in the former merchant district of the city, where many warehouses and traditional residences have been conserved and are open to the public. The hostel preserves much of the Edo-period traditional interior, with large parts of the soy sauce factory are still intact. Beautiful artworks depicting folding screens, transom, and cedar trees are no less than national treasures. Nonetheless, the facilities are utterly 21st-century modern and today it happens to be the country’s largest hostel! Dorms and rooms are done up in traditional Japanese style, complete with tatami-mat floors and futon beds.
However, Naramchi’s most interesting aspects lie outside its rooms. A 100-year+ pine tree is the beating heart of this place. A lovely terrace, jacuzzi, and a BBQ grill are excellent places for getting to know other travelers. However, don’t forget to spend time in its atmospheric restaurant-bar, which serves up some delicious Japanese-Western fusion fare. Plus, the ‘speakeasy’ does interesting cocktails with local alcohols and spirits.
The Deer Park Inn
The Deer Park Inn is perhaps one of the only budget hotels in Nara, Japan that’s actually located within the World Heritage Site area. So, it is also just a short walk to all the shrines, temples, and parks that Nara has to offer.
The Deer Park Inn lies at the foothills of Mt. Wakakusa and boasts impressive views out of its windows. With the Deer Park right there, many wild deer often wander next door, leading to a feeling of living right alongside nature. In fact, you might also get the chance to feed and pet some of the free-roaming deer!
Coming to its interiors, the hotel features traditional Japanese wooden furnishings to maintain the rustic look and feel of a comfortable mountain lodge. Guests can choose from four and six-bed female-only and mixed dorms as well as private rooms. Also, most of the private rooms enjoy lovely views that look out over the forest. With modern amenities like a shared kitchen for meals and Wi-Fi, you really might never want to leave this place.
Recommended Restaurants / Bars in Nara:
- Harushika Spring Deer Sake Brewery: Nara is both the heartland and birthplace of sake, Japan’s most popular liquor. Harushika is probably the best place to go sake tasting in Nara – you get to drink 6 types of sakes!
- Naramachi Hostel and Restaurant: This living slice of history used to be a 160-year-old soy sauce factory. Today, the ‘speakeasy’ serves out amazing cocktails and wines.
- Kura izakaya: Izakayas are traditional-style Japanese dining pubs that are very popular for their traditional local fare, just like Kura is. Plus, it serves good sake and beer too.
Recommended Activities In Nara:
- Nara Cultural Tour: Explore the ancient and peaceful Nara, its traditional architecture, shrines and temples, delicious food, and lots and lots of deer.
- Nara Like a Local: Are you interested in insights about Nara that regular tours won’t tell you? Do you want to delve into its very history and experience it like a local? Then check out this customized tour of Nara led by a local who’ll change the way you see the city.