WHILE a room in the old wing of the grand Nara Hotel in the park is a comfortable option, a traditional experience at the inexpensive Seikan-so ryokan, located in the heart of the old quarter, is also recommended and suits the city’s atmosphere. Family run, authentic and a manageable walk from Kintetsu station, Seikan-so features a well-clipped inner garden complete with stone bridge and it’s worth requesting one of the rooms facing it when you book.
The walls between guestrooms are better soundproofed than in many ryokan, allowing a good night’s sleep in a part of the city that’s pleasant to wander by day and quiet at bedtime.
The tariff is about $50 a person; at $8, a traditional Japanese breakfast of fish, omelette, pickled vegetables, boiled rice, miso, tofu and assorted novelty items is a bargain as well as an opportunity to marvel at the Japanese capacity for dishwashing: we use at least 17 plates and two teapots between us and there are half a dozen other tables on the tatami mats doing likewise.
Check in after 3pm, check out about 10am; leaving luggage outside these hours is no problem. English is spoken. More: www.jpinn.com/inn/10-6.html. Alistair Jones