Ritz Carlton Kyoto
Inspired by the concept of a luxury ryokan, this perfectly formed hotel feels intimate and luxurious. A host of highly skilled local craftsmen were involved in the design of the communal areas, resulting in quintessentially Japanese touches – giant 'washi' paper lampshades, sword-sharp metal lattice works, dramatically lit bonsais, zen gardens and sumptuous kimono textiles are a delight to discover throughout the hotel.
There are 134 rooms – the lower level rooms have views of ornamental gardens while higher rooms gaze over the city, Kamogawa river or the Higashiyama mountains. Wi-fi is complimentary throughout the hotel, and the Ritz Carlton offers more English-language channels and newspapers than most. Little touches like the yukata evening robes, cherry blossom design of the marble bathrooms and locally handmade soaps speak of Kyoto’s refinement and sophistication, while the concierge service, shimmering pool and spa are everything you would expect of a world class hotel. It is rare to find English so widely spoken in a hotel team in Japan, and their ability to respond intelligently to any request however small is second to none.
World-class cuisine can be found within the hotel itself, as both the Japanese and western dining options here (Mizuki and La Locanda) are highly-regarded. The Ritz-Carlton also houses a Pierre Hermé Paris patisserie and provides arguably the best Japanese breakfast for the western palette. For those who’d like to get involved with cuisine themselves, cookery workshops with the sushi masters are available so one can learn how to create their masterpieces. An incredible range of other cultural activities are offered, from craft workshops – making origami, paper umbrellas or miniature zen-gardens – to martial art classes, a samurai experience, a classical harp class and even morning chanting with local monks.
Set on the banks of the Kamogawa river in the heart of town the location is pin-perfect for exploring the historic Geisha quarter of Gion and the many wood-panelled traditional restaurants along the renowned dining lane of Pontocho.