Four Seasons Hotel Kyoto
Set to open in autumn 2016
The upcoming Four Seasons Hotel Kyoto will combine the Four Seasons brand’s luxury status with local flavour in the form of rooms decorated by Japanese artisans: think washi paper lamps and surfaces decorated with urushi lacquerware. It’s set to be a rather exclusive spot, with 110 guest rooms, 13 suites including one ‘presidential suite’ and 57 hotel residences – and all rooms offer top-grade views in every direction. Services include the ‘Kyo no Iyashi’ (Kyoto healing) spa with saunas and pools, while the hotel’s Brasserie restaurant will offer seasonal and vibrant dishes and the Lounge will serve sweet treats and innovative coffee drinks. Meanwhile, the Shakusui-tei teahouse will offer a traditional tea experience by day and sake and champagne in the evening – plus the best views you’ll ever find of the 800-year-old Shakusuien garden.
445-3 Myohoin Maekawacho, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto (075 541 8288). fourseasons.com/kyoto.
Opened in March 2016
Located in the charming neighbourhood of Gion, Rikyu boasts cozy, minimally decorated Japanese-style rooms. From the sliding doors, stairs and bed frames to the floors, everything here is built with hinoki cypress wood, adding to the zen vibe. Rooms are equipped with three-quarter-beds, but groups of three or more will be able to enjoy an authentic Japanese sleeping experience on futon mattresses. The amenities selection is another highlight: you’ll be treated to uber-soft Kyo Wazarashi Mensha silk pyjamas, body soap from Yojiya, Kyoto’s most famous cosmetics purveyor, and mattresses from Iwata, another local luxury brand. Only a few minutes on foot from famed sights like Kiyomizu Temple, Yasaka Shrine and Hanamikoji Road, Rikyu’s residential location still feels like a real hideout.
61-4 Shimobentencho, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto (075 746 2942). kyomachiya-suite-rikyu.com/en.
Opened in November 2015
Travellers who want a truly local experience should consider a stay at Noku. All 81 rooms are furnished with art themed on the culture of Kyoto, while the location is another winner: away from the hustle and bustle of the city’s most touristy parts, yet still only a 10-minute train ride from Kyoto station. Try striking up conversation with the staff, who are very knowledgeable about the city’s hidden gems and happy to share tips with those looking to customise their time in Kyoto. Five types of rooms are offered, from the basic House Room, ideal for solo travellers, to the Noku Suite, which is equipped with a king-size bed, a separate living room and a pantry. And when you start craving some caffeine, head to Noku Cafe, founded by Kyoto coffee impresario Takahiro Maeda, to jump-start your day with a cup of artisanal joe.
205-1 Okuracho, Karasuma-dori, Marutamachi-sagaru, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto (075 211 0222). Nokuroxy.com.
Rihga Royal Hotel Kyoto
Set to reopen in September 2016 after renovations
If you’re looking for rather more traditional, tower-style accommodation, the 14-storey Rihga Royal should do the trick. Its rooms feature offbeat Europe-meets-Kyoto décor but are impeccably modern and stylish, and occupy floors in three categories: Japanese Suite, Kyoto Style (more Hollywood than Heian era) and Executive (eye-popping views, equally eye-popping prices). The restaurant selection is more extensive than at most competitors, with French, Chinese and teppanyaki specialists complemented by a restaurant specialising in traditional Kyoto cuisine. Book at least 60 days in advance for discounts on room rates and a complimentary breakfast.
1 Taimatsucho, Shiokoji-sagaru, Higashi Horikawa-dori, Shimogyo-ku, Kyoto (075 341 1121). rihga.com/kyoto.
Suiran Hotel Kyoto
Opened in March 2015
Find your zen at this riverfront hotel: a cobbled street leads you into the front yard, where you’re greeted by the calm of an impeccably manicured traditional garden. The Suiran has 39 rooms in total, all with interiors that draw on traditional Kyoto aesthetics, and 18 of those rooms feature private onsen (hot spring) baths. And even if your room happens to not be among the 18, there’s no need to sulk: the private spa, equipped with an open-air onsen, can be rented for 45 minutes at a time. The rooms have a serene atmosphere and offer the best of both worlds in terms of views: you’ll be able to admire both the ancient capital and the surrounding mountains. All guests receive free yukata robes that can be worn on the premises, giving the hotel more of a ryokan (traditional-style inn) feel. And you won’t even need to leave the hotel to do some sightseeing – the terrace at tea room Hachimidori overlooks the Hozugawa River and the Arashiyama bamboo forest, two of Kyoto’s finest sights.
12 Susukinobabacho, Saga-Tenryuji, Ukyo-ku, Kyoto (075 872 0101). suirankyoto.com.