Hotel The Mitsui Kyoto

Wellness-Focused, Serene, Authentic

284 Nijoaburanokoji-cho, Aburano-koji St, Kyoto 604 0051

81 75 468 3155

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At a Glance

Opened in late 2020, Hotel the Mitsui is a larger but still soulful and serene property on the western side of Kyoto's Kamo River, facing the 17th-century UNESCO Site Nijo Castle. Originally the private home of the Mitsui family, the now 161-room property is the premier Japanese-owned luxury hotel in Kyoto, offering top-notch culinary, cultural and wellness/spa programs, as well as a wonderful courtyard in which to discover moments of respite.

Plus: In 2022, Hotel the Mitsui received five-star designation by the Forbes Travel Guide—making it the first hotel in Japan to achieve this distinction in its first year of operation (and one of only 12 hotels in the country to hold the rank).

The Standout: According to Manabu Kusui, the hotel’s charming general manager, the Mitsui is the only Japanese-owned large luxury hotel in Kyoto—a fact that will become even more of a standout as international brands set their sights on this ancient, one-of-a-kind city, which has struggled with the impact of overtourism.

**Don't Miss: **A dip in the impressive subterranean onsen spa, drawing from thermal pools discovered over 3,000 feet below the hotel. Particular highlights are in the in-pool jets (ideal for massaging sore legs after a long flight) and the cooling rainfall sprinklers that turn on every 15 minutes or so.

Indagare Loves

  • The exquisite Japanese breakfast overlooking the lush garden and reflection pool
  • The private onsen suite and extensive spa and fitness facilities
  • Spa-like bathrooms with deep stone soaking tubs and overhead rainfall showers


Hotel the Mitsui, a larger but still soulful and serene property on the western side of Kyoto's Kamo River, opened in late 2020, facing the 17th-century UNESCO Site Nijo Castle. Originally the private home of the Mitsui family (who amassed their fortune through banking and other industries like kimono production), the now 161-room property still preserves original details dating back as far as the 17th century (such as the 300-year-old old Kajiimiya entrance gate, which was carefully reconstructed by hand). Despite its proximity to one of Kyoto's top historic monuments, the neighborhood surrounding the hotel is generally quiet and residential (and a morning run through the area is a wonderful way to familiarize oneself with local life).

Interiors were masterminded by the Hong Kong designer Andre Fu (behind The Upper House, as well as Villa La Coste) and Japanese architect Akira Kuryu, and the overall atmosphere is subtle and soothing, with the occasional inventive touch—such as a hallway of wooden arches mimicking one of Kyoto’s most famous monuments, the fire-red Fushimi Inari shrine. Guest rooms are spacious, starting at 460 square feet (which is quite large for Kyoto); many offer calming views into the interior garden, or of Nijo Castle (which is especially wonderful to observe at sunset). Décor emphasizes local wood and a color palette of cream, grey, teal and forest green, evoking visions of moss gardens and Zen temples.

The hotel focuses on Japanese wellness practices, including the importance of connecting with the seasons and the senses. There is a dedicated space where guests can study the matcha tea ceremony; an interior 14,000-square-foot courtyard garden and reflecting pool, designed around the ancient concept of teioku ichinyo (the balance between built and natural spaces); the Shiki-no-Ma, a reconstruction of the Mitsui family’s original private entertainment pavilion, which is used for meditation and breathwork sessions, as well as private dining and events like a maiko performance; Toki, an innovative restaurant by chef Tetsuya Asano (who cut his teeth at the Ritz Paris) that celebrates Kyoto’s famously high-quality water, and the produce, dashi stock, and sake it feeds; and an impressive subterranean onsen spa, drawing from ancient thermal pools discovered over 3,000 feet below the hotel. Each of the rooms and suites is also equipped with a large stone soaking tub and rainfall shower. (Thirty minutes in the thermal steam, followed by the Mitsui’s own deep moisture sheet mask—one of many thoughtful turn-down treats—will banish any signs of jetlag.) There is also the Onsen Suite, which has its own private outdoor thermal soaking pool, within a walled stone garden.

In addition to Toki, Hotel the Mitsui offers two additional dining concepts: Forni, an all-day Italian restaurant, and **The Garden Bar.**Says Indagare Trip Designer Grace Park, who scouted the property in 2022: "Special dining experiences, such as an afternoon tea at the historic Shimogamo villa or a sitting meditation and vegan breakfast at a nearby Buddhist temple, can also be arranged."

Who Should Stay

Says Indagare Trip Designer Grace Park: "Hotel the Mitsui is a great choice for families, couples and those seeking a culturally- and amenity- rich respite away from the tourist-packed neighborhoods of Kyoto (as long as you don't mind being a few minutes’ drive from the main sites)." The dining program, onsen spa and large courtyard space are three top reasons to choose this property over the many other wonderful options in Kyoto.

Written by Elizabeth Harvey

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