garden terrace suite with tatami japanese beds on floor
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The Ritz-Carlton, Kyoto

The Ritz-Carlton, Kyoto provides a home for discerning travelers seeking luxe accommodations in the center of Kyoto. Here's our review.

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Ace Hotel Kyoto

The Ace Hotel Kyoto is a Kengo Kuma project opened in 2020 ideal for digital nomads seeking a trendy home base.

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Four Seasons Kyoto

Centered on an 800-year-old garden and charming pond, the Four Seasons may well be the best hotel in Kyoto.
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Hoshinoya Kyoto

The experience of staying at Hoshinoya begins with a rarefied arrival via the Oigawa River, which, depending on the season, might be framed in flaming red and gold leaves or draped with cherry blossoms. The Japanese-style buildings that comprise the 25-room resort and its impeccable gardens spill down the hillside, hidden from view until you're standing in their midst.

Hoshinoya is a flagship property of Hoshino Resorts, a 100-year-old consortium of Japanese hotels whose aim is to endow the traditional ryokan (country inn) experience with Western-friendly features and five-star amenities. Think a Japanese Relais & Chateaux, complete with a pastoral setting and emphasis on cuisine.

The accommodations, many of which feel like small cottages, are outfitted with sliding shoji screen doors, low tatami-style sofas and heated oak floors (guests must remove their shoes at the door). Everything from the woodblock-printed wallpaper to the lacquerware in the restaurant is handmade by Kyoto craftspeople. Various panels and drawers conceal a multitude of amenities: soft pajamas, various soaking herbs for the tub and traditional card games.

There are no televisions and no spa (and, not surprisingly, children under age 13 are not allowed). Instead, there's the river view and the chance of spotting deer, monkeys and foxes; a morning stretching session led in a patch of sunlight; sitting in the gardens with a cup of tea; and the option of participating in a traditional tea or incense ceremony.

Meals are the main event: dinner in the Michelin-starred restaurant is kaiskei style, immaculately presented, stretched over 15 or so courses and fully seasonal. It's quiet, reverential, and while not something one would opt for every night, a quintessential Kyoto experience.

Exterior View - Hotel Kanra, Kyoto, Japan

Hotel Kanra

The 29-room Kanra is the rare property in Kyoto that is delightfully Western-friendly as well as traditional and intimate, with a design-forward scheme to boot. Rooms feature large, comfortable beds and Bluetooth-compatible speaker systems but also cypress-wood bathtubs and tatami-covered living rooms (shoes are not permitted). In a nod to Kyoto’s trademark machiya homes (historic wooden townhouses), rooms have lattice-wood doors and narrow layouts, which can be awkward to navigate. The Actus room is a slender duplex while the spacious, spare Kanra Suite features an outdoor deck with a stone bath tub – a rare amenity.

Guests arrive through a discreet alleyway entrance (your taxi will have to drop you off on the main street 50 feet away) and in the lobby, an art installation on the ceiling subtly shifts colors throughout the day. The small restaurant specializes in traditional obanzai cuisine and char-grilled vegetables — both Western and Japanese options are offered at breakfast and at lunchtime, it often fills with local ladies chatting in small groups.

So-called “design hotels” often sacrifice style for service. Not so at Kanra, where the staff is sweet, effective and accommodating to all types of travelers, including families. (Mini kimono-style robes and little slippers are laid out for young guests.)

The location, five-minutes by taxi from the train station, is central and convenient. Don't be put-off by the neighboring 7-11, but wander in the other direction and you’ll find yourself lost in a peaceful warren of alleyways that feels pleasantly residential. Homes are fronted by dozens of potted plants, hidden shrines have not a soul in sight and small noodle shops offer a handful of seats at the counter.

green garden with a woman walking between the pool and an outdoor dining space

Hotel The Mitsui Kyoto

Opened in 2020, the thoughtfully designed Hotel The Mitsui has quickly become the premier Japanese-owned luxury property in Kyoto.

Suite at  Hyatt Regency Kyoto, Kyoto, Japan

Hyatt Regency Kyoto

From the moment one enters this hotel's lobby, it's evident that this 189-room property is not merely another outpost in a luxury hotel chain, thanks to its striking design concept by Takashi Sugimoto, founder of Japan's superstar design firm Super Potato. The hotel's location in the Higashiyama Ward is an easy five-minute taxi ride from the train station, though its neighborhood is far quieter than that proximity might suggest. Beyond the bamboo grove marking its entrance, there's nothing especially pretty about the surroundings—don't picture the traditional charm of Gion—but located literally next door is one of the city's most astounding temples: Sanjusangendo, with its 1,001 carved statues of the goddess Kannon. Gion and the sites and shops of downtown Kyoto are a short drive away, and many other temples also lay within close proximity via taxi, metro or bike (which are available to rent for a cost, but should be reserved ahead of time).

By Japanese standards the rooms are quite spacious, with blond wood and understated art dominating. Some suites have tatami mats and sliding shoji screen doors; the much in-demand Deluxe Balcony King rooms features a long balcony overlooking the hotel's Japanese garden and its backyard neighbor, the Kyoto National Museum. The well-appointed Riraku spa offers a range of Western and Eastern treatments, including acupuncture and yoga classes.

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Park Hyatt Kyoto

Indagare Review: Park Hyatt Kyoto is an elegant guesthouse-style property in Higashiyama offers a stylish home base looking out over the skyline of Kyoto.  

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narrow dark gray balcony overlooking a japanese style building

The Shinmonzen

A labor of love 10 years in the making, this discreet and curated nine room jewel is the sister property to Indagare-adored Villa la Coste

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