After our wonderful night relaxing and experiencing the ancient Japanese way of life at Gora Kadan in Hakone, Mr S and I were catapulted back into the 21st Century as we once again boarded the bullet train and headed to Kyoto.
On the banks of the Kamogawa river and with views of the Higashiyama mountains was our next beautiful retreat. The Ritz-Carlton Kyoto was located right in the centre of this incredible city, a place known for being the centre of history and culture in Japan.
As soon as you enter the hotel, a feeling of calm descends on you, a beautiful three tier waterfall cascades at the entrance and a bonsai tree is the first thing you see as you arrive.
I have to say I’d been a little sceptical about staying in luxury branded hotels, like here and Mandarin Oriental Tokyo as I was worried that they’d be generic and we’d lose our sense of place. But actually I needn’t have worried.
The design of The Ritz-Carlton Kyoto is actually inspired by a ryokan (Japanese Inn) so we still very much felt like we were in Kyoto. As you can see, our room had similar light wood walls to Gora Kadan, a carpet mimicking tatami mats and a bonsai tree…
…stunning Japanese artwork on the walls…
…and cherry blossoms adorning the bathroom. While at the same time we had a huge Western-style bed with 600-thread count linen, a 50 inch flat screen TV, a Nespresso machine, wireless high-speed internet and of course a robot toilet.
A perfect fusion of East meets West and old placed next to new. Asprey products alongside soap that had been hand-made in Kyoto. The choice of a kimono or a towelling bathrobe….some rooms even have a private Japanese garden! Ours didn’t but we did have a rather stunning view of the river from our floor to ceiling windows.
I also love the china provided for use in the room.
The rest of the hotel is designed in a similar style, throughly modern yet inspired by the beautiful setting of historical Kyoto. Central to the design are five words and feelings: ‘Utage’ (festive), ‘seido’ (serenity and movement), ‘miyabi’ (elegance), ‘hana’ (splendid) and ‘nagomi’ (harmony). Indeed all aspects of the hotel harmonise perfectly and there’s a gentle flow throughout the whole property.
Though we didn’t have time to use the spa, we admired the beautiful indoor pool, over looking a pretty rock garden. Mr S and I agreed that it was perhaps the most lovely indoor pool that we’d ever seen.
There’s also a cosy relaxation room where soothing music is played, perfect to recline in after enjoying one of the signature green tea treatments offered at the spa.
Though we didn’t get a chance to dine in the main restaurant, we absolutely loved the beautiful modern space that incorporated different Japan motifs and elements. Mizuni celebrates several different forms of traditional Japanese cuisine and you can choose to dine at the sushi bar, eat tempura, have a multi-course kaiseki dinner or take a private room for teppanyaki cooking.
There’s also a gorgeous outdoor space so that you can enjoy you sushi while listening to the gentle flow of the water fall.
Through the beautiful bar, where Mr S and I enjoyed drinks on a couple of nights of stay, is the hotel’s Italian restaurant, La Locanda. Though we never tried the main menu, we enjoyed breakfast there every day which could be ordered from the à la carte menu or chosen from the buffet. As well as the main restaurant space there is the Ebisugawa-tei room, originally constructed in 1908, the room has been restored and turned into the private dining room. The space mimics a traditional Japanese setting with low chairs, paper screens and tatami mats, once again bringing a taste of ancient Kyoto into this modern hotel. Oh and there’s a cheese room. Yes…you read that right…
The wooden lattices in the lobby lounge are used to create a Machi-ya (traditional wooden townhouse) style space and with calming tones of lemongrass and aubergine it was the perfect place to enjoy a glass of champagne or a beautiful pastry.
And if this place wasn’t perfect enough already, would you believe that it actually houses my favourite macaron shop, Pierre Hermé. Now I think that’s reason alone to visit!
And if a macaron shop and a cheese room, wasn’t enough to convince to stay here. Let me tell you about the wonderful service. I was in contact with the hotel prior to arrival and the efficiency of their replies was excellent and they gave us some fantastic restaurant recommendations and organised our bookings and tours. On an even more personal note, when they heard it was our wedding anniversary that delivered the most gorgeous heart-shaped macarons to the room and made a heart out of the petals!
The hotel also organises activities so that you can really experience traditional Kyoto. Amongst many other activities you can learn how to make sushi, have a Samarai experience, practice the art of origami or made a traditional washi paper umbrella.
I can’t recommend The Ritz-Carlton Kyoto enough (cheese room, macarons, people!!) it’s far from a generic branded hotel, instead it’s a stunning modern property that is very firmly rooted in its location.
PIN FOR LATER:
The Ritz-Carlton Kyoto
Kamogawa Nijo-Ohashi Hotori
We paid a media rate for our stay at The Ritz-Carlton Kyoto