Situated alongside the banks of the River Kamogawa, the stunningly beautiful and luxurious Ritz Carlton Kyoto blends in effortlessly with its historical surroundings. Its central location (many sights are within walking distance and the closest subway station is just a 10mins walk away) is actually where the Heian nobility of old located their villas, so that they were able to witness the moon rising above the Higashiyama mountain. So if you’re able to book a river-facing room, you too will be able to appreciate the views from your floor-to-ceiling windows!
As you enter the hotel’s premises, it becomes clear how well they have been able to combine references to Japanese tradition with modern sophistication. The interiors are a collection of carefully considered wood textured designs in warm hues, patterns reflecting the city’s influence and nature’s beauty, exhibited through an evergreen bonsai and seasonal plants finding their home in spaces throughout the property. You simply can’t help but feel a sense of calmness, tranquillity and zen when wondering through Ritz Carlton Kyoto.
This hotel also provided my first ‘in-room check-in’ experience, which I actually quite enjoyed! I can imagine many guests arriving slightly tired and in need of a little rest after their travels into Kyoto and so the fact you can relax in your room in full view of the River Kamogawa while the check-in process is finalised by a polite and very helpful staff member, can be very much appreciated.
As for the room we stayed in, it was incredibly spacious (some of the largest hotel rooms in Kyoto from what I hear!) and felt very much like we were staying in our very own apartment. Even the bed exemplified this, with enough space to fit 4-5 people on it. It was gorgeously decorated throughout with numerous thoughtful details, giving us the impression that every inch of this space had been meticulously measured and calibrated to ensure the most comfortable and relaxing surroundings for every guest.
To begin each day, there is an option of taking a western breakfast served at the La Locanda restaurant overlooking a wonderfully zen garden, or, a traditional Japanese breakfast at the Mizuki restaurant. While we didn’t get a chance to experience the latter (something we will certainly do on our next trip to the city), the former had a diverse range of choices to fuel our bodies for the day ahead. These included cheese, fruit platters, a basket of Pierre Herme bread, eggs benedict, salad and cereal.
Dinner at the Ritz Carlton Kyoto is also served at both these fine dining restaurants and we had the pleasure of sampling both. Mizuki’s kaiseki experience was a tour de force, which took our taste buds on a whirlwind trip in exposing our senses to different styles of Japanese cooking (think soba, sushi, tempura in addition to sake tastings). At La Locanda, the contemporary Italian restaurant, we were blown away by the creativity shown in working our way through the chef’s tasting menu that was both experimental and innovative in its ability to fuse Japanese and Italian influences onto their plates.
If you fancy a workout and/or massage, there is a peaceful walk to the downstairs spa in which the signature treatment is a hot bamboo stick rolling massage. It’s surprisingly effective in reliving sore muscles from a full day of walking and exploring, and so comes highly recommended! The gym is small but functional, and there is also a 20 metre swimming pool where you can take a dip in, steam room and sauna. A perfect place to spend your time if it’s raining heavily outside.
Customer service in Japan is among the best I have ever experienced and there is a genuine desire to ensure all guests are taken care of. At the Ritz Carlton Kyoto, this was evident throughout our stay: from the great conversations we had with the La Locanda waiters to personally meeting the head of customer relations during breakfast.
All of this left me enchanted with this beautiful city and its delightful residents. A simply extraordinary country, city and stay at the Ritz Carlton Kyoto, and I’ve no doubt I’ll be meeting the many friends I made during my time there again very soon.
Kamogawa Nijo-Ohashi Hotori
Kyoto, 604-0902, Japan