Kyoto is a town that has been a sleeping giant. With just over 2 million people this “small” city in Japan offers a great sense of the traditional Japanese Culture, and with that comes a new luxury hotel the embodies what the town has always been. I will disclose that the only reason I ended up staying here was I could not resist the opportunity to see what it would have in store after staying in Tokyo. Arriving in the initial opening phase of the hotel (mid 2015) the grounds at the Ritz Carlton Kyoto were impeccable, and something tells me they still are. Built around an existing tea house/temple (where you can still dine today) the hotel has a beautiful calming scent to it, with a majestic water feature to greet you as you enter.
The accommodations at the Ritz Carlton Kyoto offer both a traditional Japanese style and modern western rooms. Available facing both the city, and the river – opt and request a water view if possible. Each room is spacious and equipped with state of the art lighting control system that will help create an intimate, relaxed or business oriented environment as you require. The stereo systems are almost hard to notice as they blend in, but provide great ambiance as you enter for the evening post turn down service.
The amenities of the hotel are typical of any luxury hotel, but have an added bonus to the pool + spa and the sushi options. The Sushi bar in the hotel is rather large, but do not be mistaken, it is reserved for only 12 people at a time. This was the best sushi I had in Japan, both from an experience and the quality of food. Seated at the sushi Bar, you are greeted with a traditional place setting: mat, cup, hot towel and chopsticks. You are then greeted by your personal chef who will only be cooking for your party while you dine with them. If you wish to take your time, they chef’s are very pleased with the opportunity to showcase their impeccable English speaking skills and give you a background on where the fish you’re eating comes from. Our chef had a smile that would make anyone have a better day – he would also make us a second piece of nigiri any time we we raved about the fish on the table. Make sure to get the large course with seven pieces and a Sapporo to finish it off.
The pool and spa should not surprise you after having walked through the ornate lobby and entry, but they do. Designed with fung shuei in mind, and traditional Japanese architecture – this 21st century space does not let you forget that you are in Japan. Situated below the ground, they have dug down a large open air atrium to allow daylight into the space during the day, while top notch architectural lighting provides and intimate and relax feeling at the end of the night. With an all day adventure in Kyoto, I did not depart for the airport until 9 PM that night. The pool and spa were able to accommodate me and provide an extended stay at no charge will full access to the facilities before it was time to depart.