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As Nara is really close to Osaka and Kyoto, It’s not so common for people to actually stay over in Nara. People tend to come to Nara for the day. However during festivals and events it may be preferable to stay the night in Nara.
Here is a list of places I have stayed and highly recommend. From 5 star hotels and Ryokans down to hostels and budget hotels that don't compromise on quality and cleanliness, I am sure you’ll find something suitable. Scroll down past the hotels and ryokans for hostels and guest houses!
♦♦♦♦♦ 5 Star
►Price range: £130-150/ €150 Euros / $170 - £300 - €400 / $450 per night avg.
At the top of this list, and indeed at the top in terms of price is the famous and exclusive Nara hotel. I have had the privilege of staying here multiple times and it's a place that really is quite magical. The hotel decor is a mix of western with traditional Japanese. You can choose from a western style room or a traditional Japanese room. The hotel is considered a royal and ambassadorial hotel in that foreign diplomats, ambassadors, royalty and foreign consuls will most often stay here if they are in the Nara area. The Queen of England, various US presidents and European leaders have all stayed here on one or more occasion. The hotel has a lovely tea lounge, a fancy bar and cocktail lounge, a French restaurant and banquet halls. Nara hotel is a 15-minute walk from Kintetsu Nara Station. You can get a cab, it'll be 5 mins or less. The hotel is located right on the edge of the Nara hotel so it’s perfectly located.
♦♦♦♦♦ 5 Star
Price range: £250/€280/$330 per night approx.
A 4-star hotel located less than 50 meters from Kintetsu Nara station. This hotel is on a similar level in terms of price with Nara Hotel. This hotel is newer and has a newer feel compared to the Nara Hotel. Rooms are large and very clean and luxurious, with a very premier feel. Often where high-level VIP's, government officials and the more 'esteemed' traveller tends to stay, its incomparable in terms of high quality and service. I would recommend staying here if you have a higher budget. The hotel has its own bar, a library, banquet and conference room, a French restaurant and a gym. Staff will even give you biscuits to feed the deer!
♦♦♦ 3 Star
Price range: £160/€180/$210 per night
Nice 3 star hotel located 20 meters from the entrance of Kintetsu Nara station, it's very convenient. Rooms are around £150 or €170 or $200 per night. The rooms are very clean, the service is fantastic. It’s very luxury and high class for its price and rating. I would highly recommend it. The Hotel has all the usual amenities, it even has a nice ofuro (bath) that is to be used by the guests freely.
♦♦♦ 3 Star
►Price range: £100/€110/$130 per night approx.
High up on my recommendations list is Onyado Nono Onsen. This place is an Onsen - to become an official onsen the water must come from hot springs deep below in the ground.
The Hotel is of course very clean and it smells very distinctive and fresh. This is always something I judge hotels on… if they smell good! Rooms are immaculate, food is excellent, the styling is that of a modern ryokan and of course the main attraction is the onsen. After a long day walking around Nara, there is nothing better than a long relaxing soak in the natural hot spring water. The Hotel onsen is, of course, free for the hotel guests to use and is communal, women and men obviously separated. Remember Japanese people are very particular about hygiene so you must obey the etiquette of public baths and make sure you wash your body before you get into the baths! Well worth staying here. It is located a 3 minute from JR Nara station (different station to Kintetsu Nara station). You can walk to Nara park and Kintestu Nara station and that general area in 15 minutes, so it's well located. I highly recommend this place if you are the kind of person who enjoys relaxing hot baths and hot tubs!
♦♦♦ 3 Star
►Price range: £160 - 200 / €180 / $220 per night approx.
For those wanting a more traditional, peaceful and authentic nights stay, I would recommend Tsubakiso. Tsubakiso is very similar to a Kyoto Machiya. It is an 80-year-old townhouse with a limited amount of rooms, a very friendly owner, free laundry, futons on the tatami, traditional Japanese garden and many charming little aspects that make this place a truly unique place to stay. Each room has tatami floors, ensuite bathrooms, shoji paper doors that when slid open look onto the garden or a cute little patio. You will feel like you are in a period samurai drama. This place is perfect for those who want a really traditional, tranquil and authentically Japanese experience. You’ll need to book this place as soon as possible as it does get full quick.
Located a 5-minute walk from Kintetsu Nara station. Very conveniently located to all the attraction in Nara Park.
Traditional Japanese breakfast can be booked on request.
♦♦♦ 3 Star
►Price range: £80/€90/$105 per night approx.
A nice 3 star Japanese Ryokan located right on the edge of Nara Park. A 5-minute walk from Kintetsu Nara Station, less than 30-second walk from the Nara Park (which contains all the temples and shrines) and located at the start of the fun Sanjo Dori street, this place really is in the middle of all the action. It's a nice little Ryokan with Male and Female communal baths with traditional Japanese rooms. Traditional Japanese breakfast can be booked on request. Perfect for travellers who could use a nice hot soak between a day exploring and a dinner out in town.
♦♦♦ 3 Star
►Price range: £80/€90/$100 upwards to £400/€480/$550 per night approx.
Grand and top end 4-star hotel that is located a few minutes walk from JR Nara station. Really conveniently located in Nara City, this hotel is western style with large banquet halls and large clean rooms. The hotel has some nice restaurants, a bathhouse, a massage area and bicycle rental. Rooms price range massively depending on availability.
Hostels and guest houses in Japan are the best in the world in my opinion. There is one simple reason - service in Japan is levels higher than anywhere else. People really take their jobs seriously, and customers are a priority in any industry, so the hospitality industry is at the pinnacle of this. I am always pleasantly surprised when I stay in hostels in Japan as for the level of quality and service, you’d expect them to be much more expensive! Check out my list of the best ones in Nara.
♦♦♦ 3 Star
►Price range: £20/€22/$26 per night approx.
My top pick of hostels in Nara, and possibly all of Kansai. Super new, clean and fresh - the main lobby and entrance of the hostel looks like a 4-star hotel. Each little cabin has privacy curtains, its own TV, and Wifi throughout. Located a 30-second walk from Kintetsu Nara Station and a 5/10 min walk from Nara Park, it scores 10/10 for location convenience.
♦♦ 2 Star
Price range: £40/€45/$53 per night
This guesthouse is at the higher end of guesthouses. It's a 100-year-old traditional guesthouse with beautiful traditional Japanese architecture and decor, a stunning traditional garden and only 200 meters walk from Nara Park. You will feel like you are in a samurai movie staying here. Children must be 13 years or older to stay here as the house has some old and delicate traditional decor, like shoji paper doors and original tatami flooring.