The food is traditional kaiseki cuisine. We like to think of ourselves as adventurous eaters but I'd say some dishes were pretty challenging, especially at breakfast after an enormous dinner of similar dishes. But, we embraced and enjoyed it. (they do offer western breakfast too, we just didn't order it). I also booked a massage which was hilarious as it took place inside the room on my bed, with my boyfriend sitting there in the same room with no place to go. It is also quite rough and not typically relaxing in what you would expect from a massage but I actually enjoyed it! My boyfriend, not so much. The one small detail that bothered us was - what do you do with the luggage? They very thoughtfully placed our luggage in the room on a protective mat. Thing is, you're then sleeping next to it. It would be great if they could find a holding place or somewhere to store it out of the room.
We loved our stay at arashiyama benkei. Have to say though, if we hadn't previously stayed at a traditional Japanese house, I think culturally we'd be breaking some of the rules of the house inadvertently! Thankfully, they provide a helpful and amusing guide on do's and don'ts which you can read over your complimentary tea on arrival. At this point in the trip I could speak a few phrases of Japanese, which helps enormously to make you feel settled and comfortable, so I'd advise people to learn a few words - the staff do speak the necessary English to explain the services and details of the room though. The staff are very sweet and courteous and made us feel very welcome. We changed into our robes (which we had to google how to put on) and enjoyed our private onsen which had the most beautiful view of Japanese maple trees from the bath. It was picture perfect and unforgettable! I loved all the traditional elements of the room but it is a tad tired. We'd slept on tatami mats in other places in Kyoto and this was by far the most comfortable, plus your host will lay out your futon for you. It takes adjustment but as soon as you embrace it and you're in your robe, you really start to relax and feel incredibly zen. The feast was exactly that- it's traditional kaiseki and goes on for around 8 courses and is bought to your room. We enjoyed some sake and plum wine which were great and reasonable. We went to a Michelin starred kaiseki restaurant a few days later and I think the meal at arashiyama benkei was at a really high standard by comparison! One other huge positive is they looked after our luggage for a whole day once we'd checked out and went off to explore the area. There are many ryokan hotels in arashiyama, but I would highly recommend arashiyama benkei- location couldn't be better, staff are so wonderful and welcoming, experience was unforgettable.