Getting Comfortable in Kyoto

10.September 2012

Japan

Kamo Cottage, KyotoIt’s a delicate balance when looking for a place to stay when travelling. Cost vs convenience. In the middle of the action vs out of the way and quiet. Hostel vs hotel.

For us, lately, we have been drawn to apartments.

I remember when I first realized that renting short term apartment was an option for travellers. What?! We can rent an apartment? In a regular neighbourhood? Where there are regular restaurants, grocery stores, and pubs? Where we can pretend like we live here? Sold! Ever since then, as we learn to travel slower, we look to add apartments to the mix of accommodations.

Just like when looking for any accommodation, there is a set of criteria we use to help us find an apartment:

  • We like to have a sitting area. It can be an studio apartment but should at least have a table that we can sit at.
  • We may not actually cook but we want the option to make a meal if we want to so it should have a kitchen. We usually eat breakfast ‘at home’ in the morning so like to be able to make coffee and have a fridge to keep milk and beer cold.
  • It should have shops and restaurants nearby. We don’t want to have to go into town to grab a bite – we want to eat in the neighbourhood.
  • It should be near public transportation. We like being out in regular neighbourhoods but still want to be able to get to the sights. Bus, train, or subway should be within a 15 minute walk.
  • It should have wifi internet connection.

In Kyoto we found Kamo Cottage(I will write a more detailed post later about how we find apartments and guesthouses.)

Nestled on the banks of the Kamo-gawa river this little cottage is at the back of Mike and Yuko’s family home. A small, studio space with a loft for sleeping, it has everything we need to enjoy our week in Kyoto.

There is a small kitchen area with a fridge to keep my milk and beer cold.

Kamo Cottage, Kyoto

A comfy couch and coffee table to enjoy the morning.

Kamo Cottage, KyotoAnd the loft sleeping space is plenty comfortable.

Kamo Cottage, KyotoUsing the bikes that come with the apartment was our favorite way to get around. We meandered through endless neighbourhood streets making our way to all the temples and shrines and then stopped at local izakayas for dinner on our way home. It’s true that, outside of the real tourist areas, there is not much English spoken but a smile and an adventurous spirit got us by every time.

Kamo Cottage, KyotoWe were lucky this time also as Mike is a fellow traveler who arrived in Japan many years ago and never left. He told us of his secret spots in Kyoto (the ramen shop was amazing!) and provided insight into Japanese culture and tradition.

Once again getting an apartment proved well worth it and, since we are looking for a new home, we truly did pretend like we lived here.

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9 Responses to “Getting Comfortable in Kyoto”

  1. Shash Says:

    I lived in Japan for a year after high school, I remember the little rooms and bikes on crowded streets well. Enjoy Kyoto, it’s a beautiful city, I took my mom there in 1991.
    Shash recently posted..When did you let your daughter shave?

  2. Steph (@ 20 Years Hence) Says:

    I’m sure having those bikes in Kyoto were a godsend! We always wanted to rent them, but they were always so expensive in Japan.

    And I hope that we’ll get the chance to rent some apartments along the way. For now, hotel rooms feel incredibly luxurious compared to dorms, so I can hardly imagine what we’d do with an entire apartment (studio or not!) to ourselves!
    Steph (@ 20 Years Hence) recently posted..Celebrating Obon in Matsushima

  3. Leigh Says:

    Looks like the perfect sort of place to stay in. I agree that hotels and hostels get old in a hurry plus what better way to get the local flavour. And a bike to boot. I’m enjoying these posts of your on Japan.

  4. Carmel Says:

    That’s definitely an option we’ll be looking into for ourselves. Can you estimate about what percentage of the time you spent in apartments vs. hostels/hotels while on your RTW trip?
    Carmel recently posted..Mom’s birthday dinner

    • Gillian Says:

      We didn’t do it too often on our RTW trip as we were just discovering it. We did find, though, that it’s usually economical in larger centers and where you will be staying for a little while (at least a week). Often there is a one time cleaning fee – amortized out over a week of more makes it more affordable. We traveled too quickly most of the time on our RTW to really take advantage – now that we travel slower it is more of an option.

      There are also disadvantages to having an apartment – there is no maid service, and no interaction with other travelers. It’s a balance between having our own space and wanting to connect with others.
      Gillian recently posted..Getting Comfortable in Kyoto

  5. Chris Says:

    We love having our own space to come back so renting has always been a must for us, it seems the longer you stay in a place the less appealing a hostel or hotel is.

    It think that is where home exchanging works brilliantly for us as it takes away the expense of renting and gets you living in a real neighbourhood. There are actually 15 options in Japan on the site we use!
    Chris recently posted..Dealing with our first proper criticism – properly

  6. Ali Says:

    Andy and I really enjoy apartments when we travel. It’s so nice to have a little extra space and see the real neighborhoods where people live instead of just the touristy area. And your checklist pretty much matches ours too.
    Ali recently posted..Disadvantages of Taking a Tour

  7. 30Traveler Says:

    I love apartments because it makes it easier as a vegan traveler.

    Not to pimp my own blog but I’m doing an interview series with people who have done 1-2 month apartment rentals in various places and the info people are giving is fantastic! Is making me really excited about the possibilities.
    30Traveler recently posted..How Does Your Politics Influence Your Travel?