The first luxury international hotel in Kyoto invites the city’s charm in with traditional touches
City | Spa
Japan’s cultural heart is renowned for its Zen gardens and Buddhist temples – its home to over a thousand of the latter ranging from quiet shrines to extravagantly tiered complexes. The hotel itself enjoys a peaceful location, sitting on the gentle banks of the Kamogawa River in Kyoto’s Nijho Ohashi district. The area has been the haunt of Japanese noblemen since the 17th century thanks to its proximity to the Imperial Palace; today it’s just a 15 minute walk from downtown Gion’s shops and next door to Pontocho, the city’s atmospheric dining area. Here, narrow alleys are lined with little bars and cute open-air restaurants perfect for sampling traditional cuisine.
Despite its contemporary, clean lines, international plastic this is not. There’s traditional art on the walls, Japanese fabrics on the cushions and even bonsai trees carefully placed about the room. And, coupled with tatami mats, paper screens and intricate dark-wood latticework, the rooms truly reflect Kyoto’s history and Zen-like calm. Panoramic windows can look out over the city or next-door temple while you can upgrade to views of the hotel’s Japanese garden. While all rooms come with 600-thread count linens, full marble en suites and bathroom TVs, suites can feature private gardens and terrace decks complete with mountain views.
Four restaurants span the best in both Japanese and Western cuisine. Its signature restaurant, Mizuki, showcases traditional kaiseki multi-course meals. Invented in Kyoto, expert chefs prepare a range of small dishes, each carefully prepared to complement not only flavours but cooking methods and colours. The restaurant also features two counters where Edo-style sushi courses are served on Wajima lacquer and Kappo-style tempura delights are presented on polished granite. The private teppanyaki dining room rounds off the Japanese offerings with an open kitchen preparing fresh lobster or fine Japanese steak next to your table. Lastly, there’s a wood-panelled dining room – once the 1908 townhouse of an industry magnate – that serves up contemporary Italian cooking, complemented by cheeses from its walk-in cellar.
At the Ritz-Carlton, the level of service is unmatched. Expect doormen to offer tailored advice on your Kyoto visit and to be addressed by name from the moment you first enter the lobby. More tangibly, the spa – and its full range of treatments – continues Kyoto’s relaxed charm while the candle-lit bar is equally inviting, perfect for a pre-dinner cocktail. Alternatively, take a dip in the pool or make use of the complimentary WiFi.
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