The Ritz-Carlton, Kyoto
What We Love
- The tranquil setting beside the Kamo River
- Six dining options covering the full range of Japanese cuisine
- Stocking up on macarons and chocolates at the Pierre Hermé Paris patisserie
- The fitness center can provide workout gear — some free, some for a rental fee
- The art collection is inspired by The Tale of Genji, a classic 11th-century Japanese novel, and includes 409 works by 80 artists
What To Know
- Pets are not allowed
- The spa menu draws on many Japanese wellness rituals; try the Ryokucha Serenity Ritual, inspired by the property’s signature Green Tea Scent, a sensory journey incorporating green tea leaves from Kyoto along with aromatic oils
- Children under 16 aren't allowed in the spa unsupervised
- Free WiFi
- Handicap Accessible
- Parking On Site
This 134-room urban hideaway capitalizes on the world’s newfound love affair with Kyoto. The interiors, by Remedios Studio, are studies in Japanese serenity and attention to detail, based on five principles: utage (festivity), seido (serenity and movement), miyabi (elegance), hana (splendor) and nagomi (harmony). Expect futon-style beds, sliding screen doors, a muted palette and windows that frame either a tranquil Japanese garden or vistas of the Kamo River and the Higashiyama Mountains. The building itself is based on the traditional Meiji house and courtyard, with Zen gardens and a dramatic three-story waterfall at the heart of the property. The art collection, meanwhile, is inspired by The Tale of Genji, a classic 11th-century Japanese novel, and includes 409 works by 80 artists, many from Kyoto. The sense of place is also strong in the six restaurants, each of which offers a particular Japanese culinary style, from sushi to teppanyaki. The spa, which uses products from U.K. brand Espa, also takes its cues from ancient Japanese traditions. Try the Ryokucha Serenity Ritual, inspired by the property’s signature Green Tea Scent, a sensory journey incorporating green tea leaves from Kyoto along with aromatic oils.
In the Area
To best soak up the city’s spirit, hit up some of Kyoto’s temples, starting with Kiyomizu-dera, on Otowa Mountain. One of the city’s most popular landmarks, the temple was first built in 798, although what you’ll see there today is reconstructions from the 17th century. Don’t miss the beautiful ritual that is a tea ceremony: Camellia is one of the city’s best places for it, and it’s set on the Ninen-zaka steps, between Kiyomizu Temple and Gion, the famous geisha district. Another essential Kyoto experience is the noodle crawl. There’s something for every kind of noodle obsessive: Omen for the thick white noodles it’s named after, Santouka for ramen, and Kanei for soba. If you hanker to see what life is like as a Buddhist monk—at least tastebud-wise—opt instead for shojin ryori (Buddhist vegetarian cuisine) at Shigetsu, set in the beautiful Tenryu-ji gardens.
How to Get There
We recently returned from a 10 night / 9 day vacation family vacation around Japan. Kyoto and 3 nights at the Ritz-Carlton was our last stop - and I am so glad that was the case, as every other hotel experience would have been a colossal let-down had we approached it any other way. We had bad luck with the record-high summer temperatures during our entire trip but particularly in Kyoto (102F) - it is a testament to the comfort of the Ritz and the experiences that they oversaw that what would have been a heat-stroke inducing, tour and life stifling experience was the highlight of our trip!
More than anything, the team at the RCK was beyond compare. Upon arrival, our children were immediately welcomed into the RCK children's fold, given special RCK passports to explore the hotel and find locations where they could collect stickers for complimentary ice cream. The unbelievably warm and welcoming Sumika immediately took an interest in our children, learning about their background, travels and passions which she made mental note of and engaged them on throughout our stay whenever our paths crossed. At check in, she noticed that my son had a birthday coinciding with our stay and surprised him on our final night with a special birthday dessert fashioned in a minion theme (after he'd shared his enthusiasm for the minions), complete with a minions inflatable and accompanying small gifts - and even a card for our daughters to give to their brother! It was truly above and beyond. Fernie at the pool was similarly incredible, suggesting that we might enjoy wearing traditional yukata's and arranging an itinerary for us to don them in town. When the hot weather made that impracticable, she made us a handmade card with origami yukatas to have as a keepsake from our trip and a memory of the traditional garment. We did the complimentary morning bike tour, which I highly recommend - and again Angela and Amy guiding the excursion could not have been more engaged or kinder to our family and prepared with refreshments and treats to make the experience as comfortable as possible despite the heat. A final anectdote that truly changed the experience for my birthday-boy son, who was going through a bit of western food and media withdrawal by the end of our trip, was the front desk team's scrounging up of an Apple TV so my son could have a family movie night in after a long day of touring. Kyoto and Star Wars are always mentioned in the same breath when he talks about our trip. I can honestly not recall an experience when so many team members at any hotel have gone so far out of their way to make our stay special. We were truly humbled by the kindness.
After onsens and bodies of water meant for appreciation vs. submersion, the beautiful subterranean pool at the Ritz was truly a refreshing change. The setting in combination with the record temps caused us to abort a planned day trip to Nara to have a pool day (despite being halfway around the world)! The rooms are outstanding and had the creature comforts (luxurious bathrooms, comfortable beds, great lightening) that one would be spoiled by coming from any geography or background. I can not wait to return - admittedly, in spring or fall.
Perfect Location (about 12 minutes walking time to the city centre), Top Class Service and Staff, Excellent Food (Japanesse or International) - I recommend to try the Japanese Breakfast option in the morning. I highly recommend Ritz-Carlton Kyoto!
Wow - what a beautiful property. Only about 5 years old and designed by an all Japanese team, this place was just stunning on the inside and out. The service was outstanding as well - I've never felt so welcome at a resort before (even at other Ritz and similar properties). And somehow - it seemed like every staff member in the whole hotel knew our 14 month old daughter's name and went out of their way to play with her, talk to her, and give her gifts (like wrap them and leave them in her crib). Sometimes it took us a long time to make it through the lobby because everyone would come over to say hi. Housekeeping, the concierge staff, the activities team - everyone was just amazing to us.
The one disappointment we had was finding out that kids under 4 years old were not allowed in the pool. Totally understand why that is the case, but wish we'd known sooner because we planned a couple daytime activities around having that (to entertain our kid) and the hotel didn't really have any other space for a young kid to play.