Ritz Carlton Kyoto Japan

The Ritz-Carlton
Kyoto, Japan


In a jewellery-box city blessed with hospitality gems, the Ritz-Carlton Kyoto sets its own level of contemporary sophistication, as an updated version of the traditional Kyoto ryokan experience for an international audience. We have had the pleasure of staying at the hotel on several occasions, and each time, we’ve discovered something new and wholly magical that has made us love it more.

Our suite at the Ritz-Carlton Kyoto was the very definition of zen, perfectly appointed (as we had come to expect in Japan) with a bonsai-clad window seat that offered a stunning view of the Kamogawa river, and the Higashiyama mountains beyond. Our suite here (there are 134 rooms in total, but yet the property maintains the air of a boutique hotel) was a sanctuary within a sanctuary, and every space – both personal or communal – harmoniously married the old traditions of Kyoto with contemporary Japanese luxury. Simplicity is celebrated in the decor – with one eye firmly trained on sophistication –  with earthy tones, natural textures, and exquisite art pieces which echo the beauty of the city beyond. Each room is a canvas of tranquillity, inviting guests to unwind in comfort and style after a long day of exploring Kyoto’s delights.

The architecture and design in general is inspired by the aesthetic principles of the Edo period, and in our opinion exuded understated elegance. Traditional wooden lattices, tatami mat flooring and sliding shoji screens blended seamlessly with modern comforts, There are some startling foreign, luxury touches – like the pop-up French, Ladurée macaron counter at the time of our visit, we’re told extremely popular with local guests – we’re pleased to say that the property firmly has a sense of place, often in the most beautiful and thought-through and Japanese way, rooted in heritage but attuned to the needs to today’s discerning OutThere travellers.

Perfect forFly intoRight on time
The CulturalistKIX / ITMGMT +9
While you’re Out There
Time your visit to a matsuri festival, often held on the banks of the Kamogawa river, just outside the Ritz-Carlton Kyoto. Buy yourself a beautiful yukata or kimono and head out in traditional Japanese dress. We did and it was a fab experience mingling with locals – young and old – who all still enjoy this ancient tradition. The hotel’s location is also perfect for a leisurely bike ride or a trip to the local shrine with a guide (ours was with the hotel’s charming Night Manager) from the hotel and of course, never far from this ancient city’s must-see sights.

The Ritz-Carlton Kyoto’s gorgeous and generous pool and spa area, with its minimalist design and holistic treatments, offered us a blissful opportunity to relax. And with Kyoto-style fine dining all the rage now, and the hotel’s sublime Mizuki kaiseki restaurant offered a finessed and theatrical treat. We were served gastronomic delights that pay homage to Kyoto and Shiga prefectures’ rich culinary heritage. Make sure to try the sashimi served on carved ice, an installation of a dish that pays homage to the surrounding nature. Every dish is a masterpiece, beautifully presented and thoughtfully prepared. The hotel’s delicious, delicately presented and bountiful breakfast was no less sumptuous.

But perhaps the true magic of the Ritz-Carlton Kyoto lies in its spirit of omotenashi – the Japanese art of heartfelt hospitality. Every interaction, from the warm welcome from the team of international staff to the meticulous attention to detail throughout our stay, was on-point. We were always greeted with timeless Japanese hospitality, not to mention deep bows of respect for our true selves, which is comforting when visiting as a same-gender couple. While Kyoto may come across as old-worldly and the expectation would be one of conservative values, we didn’t feel that for a second while staying at The Ritz-Carlton Kyoto. We were even asked a few times if we were married; a hot topic at the time, as an Abbott at a local, centuries-old temple had just begun doing ceremonial blessings for gay and lesbian couples. And when we returned to stay again, we had learnt that the city made a landmark decision to legalise same-gender civil unions in 2020.


Photography courtesy of The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company

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