Tired of bustling Tokyo? We’re taking a few days off our itinerary to explore Kyoto, the ancient capital of Japan.
A cultural destination you won’t want to miss, Kyoto is home to many classical Buddhist temples, serene gardenscapes, imperial palaces, shrines and traditional wooden houses — a stark difference from the sprawling metropolis of Tokyo that’s just a two-hour Shinkansen ride away.
The best way to truly immerse yourself in the peaceful spirit of the city is to take the plunge and book a night at a luxury accommodation. While luxury hotels may seem like an unnecessary splurge to some, these upscale locales promise stunning views of the city, some of which come with framed, forested views that set your mind at ease as you rise and start your day with the best foot forward.
Here, we’ve listed out nine of our favourite luxury hotels in Kyoto you’ll want to book for your next holiday out.
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(Hero and featured image credit: Aman Kyoto)
Four Seasons Hotel Kyoto
Bask in luxury at Four Seasons Hotel Kyoto. The five-star locale is situated in the historic Higashiyama district, and boasts a pond garden at the heart of it all — an 800-year-old centrepiece which once belonged to a noble Samurai. Each of the 123 rooms (which start at a spacious 49 sqm) are dressed in a harmonious blend of traditional and modern interior design, complete with deluxe amenities such as the Customizable Four Seasons Bed. Those looking to get the most out of their stay in Kyoto should book an Experience with the hotel, which includes a chibi-maru lantern-making session with a 10th-generation Kojima master, a Japanese martial art class, as well as a visit to Gion and Pontocho Alley that’ll show you how to eat and shop like a local.
445-3 Myohoin Maekawacho, Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto, 605-0932, Japan
The Ritz-Carlton, Kyoto
The Ritz-Carlton Kyoto’s location is hard to beat. Sat alongside the Kamogawa River, with a picture-perfect backdrop of the Higashiyama mountains, guests are invited to take in the grandiose sights even before they step in. Every detail in the 134 stylish rooms and suites is reminiscent of the ancient capital: from the cherry blossom cut-outs on the bathroom wall and Shigaraki pottery basins to shippo design elements, a Kyoto speciality. Spend your day relaxing with the Ryokucha Serenity Ritual at the spa, which incorporates antioxidant-rich green tea leaves from the city’s Uji region in its body, foot and scalp massage, or pay a visit to the hotel’s very own Michelin-starred Tempura Mizuki.
Japan, 〒604-0902 Kyoto, Nakagyo Ward, Hokodencho, 543 鴨川二条大橋畔
You’re almost guaranteed an otherworldly experience when you pay a visit to an Aman property, and Aman Kyoto is no exception. Nestled in a quiet district just 30 minutes by car from Kyoto station, holidaymakers are whisked into a forested world (all 32 hectares of it, in fact) that’s peppered with pavilions, moss-lined walls and towering boulders that add to the element of fantasy. While you’re not soaking your troubles away in the mineral-rich onsen, or getting a treatment down using the hotel’s own original essential oil combinations, we expect to see you exploring Aman Kyoto’s secret garden, meditating with Zen Buddhist monks or practising the mindful art of Ikebana here.
No.1 1 Okitayama Washimine-Cho, Kita Ward, Kyoto, 603-8458, Japan
Park Hyatt Kyoto
A quiet urban oasis awaits at Park Hyatt Kyoto. You’ll find the multi-tiered Yasaka Pagoda jutting out against the tiled roof skyline from your bedroom windows, with attractions like the Kodai-ji temple just beside it. The hotel boasts a comparatively small number of rooms by Hyatt standards — 70, to be specific — but its location along the ancient Nineizaka street makes the experience even more intimate. While guests can always make a stop at Yasaka when they are feeling peckish, we suggest heading to Kyoyamato, where they’ll be served formal Japanese kaiseki courses inspired by the seasons.
Japan, 〒360 Kodaiji Kyoto, Higashiyama Ward, Masuyacho, JP 605-0826 京都市東山区高台寺桝屋町360
Hotel the Mitsui Kyoto
Hotel the Mitsui Kyoto sits on the old former residence of the Mitsui family, one of Japan’s most powerful clans. Here, relics from the time long past are retained — namely the main Kajiimiya Gate, some landscape features and stone lanterns — but the property has been generally redeveloped for the modern traveller. 161 guestrooms have been designed by celebrated designer André Fu with Japan’s traditional teahouses in mind, offering views of the walls of Nijo Castle, Kyoto’s cityscape or the central garden. A day of relaxation begins with a complimentary Wellness Breathing session, and guests can the opportunity to soak in the Thermal Spring, before having their aching knots kneaded out by the expert therapists using the ancient principles of Japanese traditional Anma Massage.
Japan, 〒604-0051 Kyoto, Nakagyo Ward, Nijoaburanokojicho, 284
Roku Kyoto, a sprawling resort complex, promises a different experience to the ancient capital. The foot of Takagamine Mountain sets the scene for the stunning property, complete with an 82-foot outdoor thermal pool to boot. The well-dressed rooms frame the peaceful, forest-lined mountains, fashioned in a generally neutral palette to keep guests in a state of serenity. While you’re here, be sure to partake in some of the hotel’s collection of bespoke experiences, including a washi paper-making session or a porcelain-making experience taught by third-generation porcelain master, Kano Shoukoku, using soil from the estate.
44-1 Kinugasa Kagamiishicho, Kita Ward, Kyoto, 603-8451, Japan
The Shinmonzen is where you’d want to be for a touch of tranquillity that’s off the beaten tourist path. The property, disguised as a traditional machiya to blend in with the heritage-rich Gion district, is home to a contemporary interior with just nine suites. The modern rooms are designed with touches of Kyoto in mind, and guests can take their pick between the traditional futon-style beds or the Western beds they’re more used to. Our favourite bit? The private river-view balconies from every room.
Shinmonzen-dori, 235 Nishinocho, Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto, 605-0088, Japan
Hoshinoya Kyoto sits on the fringe of the city, best for guests looking for some well-deserved respite after multiple days of exploring the city. A peaceful 15-minute wooden river boat ride awaits after you get off a train ride from Arashiyama, where you’ll be seduced by a collection of buildings that seem to blend in with its surroundings. Here, the 25-room locale boasts a balance between modern design and traditional craftsmanship, and guests are invited to live the slow life here whilst taking in the sights and sounds. While you’re not savouring seasonal ingredients and flavours over a kaiseki dinner, find peace with the treatments from the in-room spa or partake in an acupuncture session with the two-day holistic spa program.
Fauchon L’Hotel Kyoto
Those familiar with the Fauchon brand know its associations with the gourmet experience. The 59-room boutique hotel is designed with pops of fuchsia, interspersed with delicate pink hues, black and gold throughout. As for your food, indulge in contemporary French cuisine at The Grand Café, or nibble on some tea and pastries at Salon de Thé. Your nightcap is best had at the chic Le Bar, but of course, you can’t miss a stop at the Fauchon Patisserie and Boutique.
406 Nanbacho, Shimogyo Ward, Kyoto, 600-8027, Japan
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