Editors' Picks

The Ritz-Carlton, Kyoto

Riverside, contemporary, sophisticated

Kamogawa Nijo-ohashi Hotori Na., Nakagyo Ku, Kyoto 604-0902


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Indagare Adored

At a Glance

Seamlessly melding contemporary style and historic Japanese elements, The Ritz-Carlton, Kyoto is a thoughtfully designed riverfront hotel within walking distance of Kyoto’s city center. During the Edo period (1603-1867), the residences of aristocrats and nobles lined the shores here. The luxury resort has inherited the essence of this distinguished history, and is engraving a new chapter in the culture of Kyoto. With an incredibly gracious and attentive staff and four excellent on-property restaurants with original private dining spaces (including Mizuki for Japanese cuisine and La Locanda serving Italian dishes), visitors can enjoy a traditional experience with modern accoutrements. The comfortable lobby lounge is popular but never feels imposing, achieving the distinctly Japanese balance of Zen energy.

The Standout: The specialty suites that come with serene private Japanese gardens Don’t Miss: Exploring the charming historic Gion district within walking distance of the property, where visitors may catch a glimpse of elaborately dressed geisha or maiko, many of whom live in the neighborhood

Indagare Loves

  • The 400-plus works of art from Japanese artisans throughout the hotel
  • Tempura Mizuki, the Michelin-starred restaurant, where diners are seated at a large granite counter and served tempura kappo-style
  • The thoughtfully curated Ritz Kids program, which introduces kids to elements of Japanese culture through immersive and adventurous experiences


The Ritz-Carlton in central Kyoto, set along the banks of the Kamogawa River in the shadows of the Higashiyama Mountains, was intended to encompass the feel of a Japanese ryokan within a traditional hotel setting with modern accoutrements. Architectural elements were borrowed from traditional Meiji homes, demonstrated in both the courtyards built into the footprint, and the engawa-like corridors built within every room to frame the view. Over 400 works of art are on display throughout common areas and rooms, all from artists with a connection to Kyoto. Textiles throughout the hotel are from a 12th-generation atelier known for creating Japan’s finest kimonos.

The hotel has achieved the delicate balance of feeling buzzy and alive within a calming, zen retreat. The lobby dining area overlooking the river feels sleek, contemporary and richly Japanese, with heavy velvet fabrics paired with clean modern lines. Tea time goes into the evening as mothers and daughters, chic teens and elderly women in traditional kimonos fill the warm, residentially designed space with energy.

The 134 rooms have either a view of the river, mountains or old clapboard row homes. They are designed with a distinct Japanese aesthetic and feel like spacious cocoons, with light wood and natural elements. River-view rooms provide a vantage point for sunrise-viewing and people-watching—including schoolchildren skipping along the riverbanks and cyclists traversing the banks. The garden terrace suites are best for those who prefer privacy, as the river view is traded for a sublime private garden. Corner suites are also a favorite, featuring floor-to-ceiling windows. A handful of rooms have tatami mats instead of traditional beds, for guests interested in sampling the ryokan tradition without straying from the plush comforts of a modern five-star hotel.

The two main restaurants are perhaps the most flashy and contemporary options in town: Tempura Mizuki, a Michelin-starred Japanese restaurant serving sushi, tempura, kaiseki cuisine and teppanyaki, and La Locanda, an Italian restaurant with an extensive wine cellar that is only matched by the impressive cheese selections. For a special occasion, book one of the exquisite private dining rooms at Locanda, such as Ebisugawa-tei Goten-no-ma, which is an early 20th-century construction that has been restored and refurbished so guests can enjoy Italian fare in an enchanting and traditional Japanese setting. The comfortable lobby lounge is popular all day, but never feels imposing. Guests attempting to cure jet lag find many solutions at the fitness center, which has a 65-foot indoor pool and ESPA spa.

Who Should Stay

Discerning travelers, including families, seeking luxe accommodations in the center of Kyoto

Written by Indagare

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