In Japan’s romantic ancient capital, walk in the bamboo forests of Arashiyama, take a leisurely stroll in the old town, tour mysterious old temples by rickshaw, take a sushi master class, have a kimono fitting… or simply relax in one of the incredible luxury ryokans and hotels.
Suiran Kyoto Hotel: the ultimate Japanese-style luxury in an intimate setting
Are you craving for a relaxing zen vibe in a traditional Japanese setting, but with all modern comforts and close to major attractions? The Suiran Kyoto might be the perfect place for you.
In the tranquil and scenic district of Arashiyama on the western side of Kyoto, walk down a narrow cobbled riverside street, pass under a wooden gate and arrive into perfectly manicured Japanese gardens. Get escorted to your room by a kimono-clad host, and discover the personal touch of Japanese hospitality in your uniquely-themed room.
Enjoy the views of the surrounding mountains from your balcony, then head to the open-air onsen (natural hot spring) for a relaxing contemplative soak. Finally, have an afternoon tea or an unforgettable 10-course dinner at the Meiji-era style restaurant. Formerly the private villa of a 19th-century industrialist, the riverside building was originally constructed in 1899 and has an authentic indoor/outdoor Japanese aesthetic.
Rated one of the best hotels in Kyoto by the Forbes Travel guide.
- Intimate boutique hotel setting: only 36 guest rooms, all with different amenities and modern or traditional design elements. Bottom floor rooms open on lovely private gardens, while upper rooms feature balconies with garden or mountain views.
- Unbeatable and charming location on the riverside, away from the crowds and close to major attractions in the Arashiyama area. 20min by taxi from the centre of Kyoto (30min by train).
- At the Kyo-Suiran, the Meiji-era style restaurant, the house specialities include teppanyaki from excellent local ingredients and Kinshu, a seasonal, 10-course dinner
- Best time to go: in April-May in time for cherry blossoms, or in October-November for the autumn leaf peeping.
- Part of the Marriott luxury collection: the hosts are used to welcoming international guests… and you can use your Marriott points!
Ritz-Carlton Kyoto: a 5-star riverside gem for art, design and food lovers
For a true, full-service high-end experience and sleek Japanese aesthetic, head to The Ritz-Carlton. Starting at the entrance, admire a peaceful three-story waterfall, Japanese gardens, and a meticulously thought-through design: inspired by the seductive 11th century Tale of Genji, but decidedly modern. In fact, as you wander around the hotel, you will discover over 400 pieces of modern Japanese artwork created by 80 artists.
Relax with a bamboo ritual spa treatment, then pamper your tastebuds with an epic kaiseki dinner. Finally, head to the award-winning rooftop bar offering stunning riverside and city views
The only Kyoto hotel rated 5 stars by the Forbes Travel guide
- 134 guest rooms with light wood furnishings, picture windows, bonsai plants and a sleek Japanese aesthetic. Choose from categories Deluxe, Deluxe Garden with Japanese garden views, and Luxury Rooms with floor-to-ceiling windows. The high-level suites are the most stunning: most have Zen gardens, terraces and the best views the hotel can offer
- The multi-course kaiseki feast at the Michelin-starred Mizuki Japanese restaurant has gained a strong reputation throughout the city. It’s a must-do for first-time visitors to Japan! Yo can also choose Western food at one of the other 3 onsite restaurants.
- The bar is nominated one of the best hotel bars in 2019 by the Forbes travel guide
- The spa has seven treatments rooms in total. The Ryokucha Serenity Ritual comes highly recommended, incorporating local green tea leaves into a gentle, flowing massage.
Aman Kyoto: the newest and most exclusive destination in town
Nature steals the show at the new Aman Kyoto opened in November 2020. It is located in an exquisite hidden garden and surrounded by more than 32 hectares of dense forests. Being one of the first to visit this gem: that is one of the best reasons to visit Kyoto this year.
It’s new, unique, serene, escapist, and it’s stylish. Combining minimalist ryokan design and contemporary architecture, the ethereal Aman Kyoto is equal parts wellness retreat, onsen, and hotel. After a day of sightseeing, travellers can unwind in a forest bath (shinrin-yoku) or enjoy a quiet walk through a the mossy stone pathways of the garden, before savouring a locally-sourced kaiseki dinner.
- A total of 26 suites are housed in six pavilions scattered throughout the gardens. A modern take on traditional Japanese ryokan inns, the guestrooms are spacious, natural and minima
- The 2 restaurants serve delicious cuisine – from traditional Kyoto home-cooking to Western dishes with playful touches. All dishes are created with local, seasonal ingredients, some found foraging in the nearby forests.
- Discover Kyoto, without the crowds: Kinkakuji, the Golden Pavillion temple, is just 15 minutes away on foot. Visit the Ryugen-in temple, home to five small but exquisitely formed Zen gardens, including Japan’s smallest rock garden. Ryoanji temple, with its famed rock garden, is also not far.
- Activities: deeply restorative massage at the spa, private tours of local temples and shrines by electric bike, and forest meditations in a secret garden.
Visit official website
1 Okitayama Washimine-Cho, Kita-ku, Kyoto, 603-8458, Japan
Tel: +81 75 496 1333
Four Seasons Kyoto: modern luxury in the heart of the traditional district
Four Seasons Kyoto wows from the moment of arrival, with wonderfully calming interiors, sensational gardens and a spa so sublime it’s a destination in its own right.
With its opening in 2016, Kyoto got a first-class luxury hotel for the discerning modern visitor. Centered around an 800-year-old ikeniwa pond garden once owned by a wealthy samurai family, the Four Seasons Hotel Kyoto offers the right blend of timeless aesthetics and modern-day indulgences, making for an ideal base from which to discover the city’s many secrets.
A traditional and elegant design aesthetic permeates the hotel for a Zen vibe. The spacious guest rooms and suites are some of the largest and most comfortable around — especially with double-height windows flooding the spaces with natural light.
Rated one of the best hotels in Kyoto by the Forbes Travel guide.
- Designed in the style of a traditional Kyoto house, guest rooms incorporate features such as long hallway entrances and secondary doors to highlight the sense of space and light.
- Try the freshest seafood and carefully selected delicacies at Sushi Wakon, the exceptional Japanese restaurant overseen by renowned chef Rei Masuda. The Brasserie’s bar has a splendid selection of Japanese beers and rare sakes.
- Kyoto is the home of green tea, so what better place to enjoy it than at the in-house very own chashitsu (tea house)? Take part in a traditional ceremony overseen by an experienced tea master, all in the serene and intimate surroundings of the Shakusui-en garden.
- Relax in the hotel’s fabulous spa, complete with whirlpools, a large indoor swimming pool, sauna and steam rooms and a well-equipped fitness center.
- Ancient shrines and temples lie just on the doorstep, as geishas stroll along the cobbled streets in the nearby traditional entertainment district of Gion.
- The friendly concierge is happy to organize all kinds of cultural activities from Kiyomizu pottery-making to private Zen meditation sessions with temple monks.
Ryokan Yoshida-Sanso Kyoto: an intimate stay in a piece of Japanese royal history
The villa built in 1932 from Japanese cypress, is one of the few privately owned buildings allowed to keep the Imperial Seal of Japan. And that is because it belonged to Prince Higashifushimi, uncle of the current Japanese Emperor Akihito.
Its remote ambiance and old world charm the perfect place to deep dive into that digital detox and really embrace your zen. The space oozes traditional Japanese charm, but doesn’t feel old.
As a family-owned business, this expertly preserved ryokan (Japanese inn) pays incredible attention to detail and authenticity, and you can feel the pride and care for guests. At arrival, you will be served Japanese sweets and tea along with a hand-written calligraphy poem from the owner. There are no facilities here, just the comfortable café and peaceful garden designed by the prince himself.
- The 3 rooms in the main house are elegant, with sliding doors, an altar, local flower arrangements, paper lanterns, tatami mats and wooden table and floor seating. At night, the staff roll out surprisingly comfortable bedding and pillows on the floor.
- There’s one additional fourth space on the residence, the Hanare Detached Suite nestled in the Japanese garden.
- For breakfast, choose between Japanese (fish, salad, tofu, soup…) or Western fare
- The kaiseki dinner (or lunch) and breakfast will be served in your room, typical of ryokans across Japan. A Kyoto-style kaiseki meal consists of about 10 courses of artfully plated small dishes, using local, seasonal and fresh ingredients.