Kyoto has a wide range of accommodation, much of it geared towards foreign visitors. During peak seasons, such as the cherry blossoms in April or during Golden Week when accommodation is difficult to get, consider staying in Osaka. A thirty minute train ride from Kyoto Station to Osaka Station will cost you ¥540 one way. Since Kyoto is a major tourist destination, demand is high and prices follow suit.
Most of the lodging in the city is clustered near the central city, especially around Kyoto Station and the downtown area near Karasuma-Oike. The outer areas have a scattering of their own, tending towards inexpensive but often much further from train or subway stations.
At the bottom of the price scale, many temples in Kyoto own and run their own lodging complex known as shukubō (宿坊), usually located on or near temple grounds. Guests are often invited to participate in morning prayer service (otsutome) held at the temple. Unfortunately, most temple lodgings do not have English-speaking receptions, and curfews and check-in/out times tend to be strict. Most are located in the northern region of the city.
Hostels are common and popular with students. Inexpensive hotels lack amenities but compensate with prices surprisingly low for Japan; both can be found in all regions of the city, and may be the only options available if you need to stay in an outlying ward.
The majority of self-named ryokan in this range are actually minshuku. Most are small family-run operations and accustomed to dealing with foreigners. Be prepared to pay for the full stay in advance.
The boundary between budget and midrange is often unclear, particularly among ryokan. Hotels in this category are concentrated in Central Kyoto, serving the business market with the typical amenities and close proximity to transportation.
Almost exclusively found in the downtown and Kyoto Station areas, these top-of-the-line lodgings can make your airfare look cheap. Western-style hotels dominate in this category; unlike the midrange options, very few of the high end ryokan can be booked without a fluent command of Japanese.
Little lodging is available. Look for more plentiful options in Central Kyoto.