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The Miyako opened in 1890 but has gone through many changes since Douglas Fairbanks, Queen Elizabeth II, and many other well-known travelers stayed here (the present hotel dates from 1992). What I like most about the Miyako is its hilltop setting, sprawling over more than 6.4 hectares (16 acres) and boasting a Japanese garden and a wild-bird sanctuary (and even a bird-watching trail). It also has a satellite office at Kyoto Station, where you can drop off luggage for delivery to the hotel (¥300 per bag) while you go off sightseeing, but there's also a free shuttle bus that can take you directly to the hotel. For families, there's a playroom equipped with a slide and toys for young children, plus both indoor and outdoor pools.  A city zoo, Heian Shrine, and Nanzenji Temple are within walking distance. A variety of Western-style rooms are available, with the least expensive occupying the oldest wing and the best on the fifth floor with huge terraces overlooking the valley. For a ryokan experience, the Kasui-en annex, built in 1959 next to the hotel, offers 20 Japanese-style rooms complete with cypress baths and views of the garden. In any case, this is one of Japan's best-known hotels; you can't go wrong staying here.