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 stayed here for thre days in mid-May, 2019. Everything about the hotel is excellent. Our room looked out to an inner courtyard. There was no view, but the room was extremely quiet. We traveled to Kyoto immediately after landing at Tokyo Haneda from Los Angeles, so the quiet room was a big help in recovering from Jet Lag. The room was really beautiful, as was the entire hotel. The only complaint that I have is the extremely high price for the American breakfast buffet. The equivalent of $120 for two people is price gouging. Even though we could afford it, I feel it was an excessive charge. We knew what the cost was before sitting down, so shame on us. We ate there twice. LOL. All in all, however, I highly recommend this hotel.
Love how staff remember me from previous visits. Hotel in great spot and within walking distance of many great restaurants. Hotel is minimalistic and modern. Nice indoor pool area and great spa.
Loved the afternoon tea and food pretty good in in-house restaurants.
My wife and I stayed 5 nights at the Ritz Kyoto and thoroughly enjoyed our stay. We have traveled many places around the world and we agreed that this Ritz had the absolute best decor, in both the public areas and our room, that we have ever experienced. Kyoto itself can be crowded and somewhat hectic unless you take the time to hire a private guide (which we did). The decor and ambiance at the Ritz, however, provides an absolutely Zen-like escape from the daytime hustle-bustle. After having spent 2 weeks in China before we arrived in Kyoto, we were ready for some Western-style food (hard to find in China or Japan). This is where the Ritz really performed. Stefano, the maitre d' at La Laconda, along with his staff including Kentari and Bikki, did an outstanding job of fulfilling all of our requests including, to our great pleasure, a real Caesar salad and a western-quality beef filet cooked perfectly medium rare! Stefano also did a great job as sommelier. The restaurant was so good, we ate there twice.The only off-key note of our stay came from the Aussie General Manager. While he was effusively nice when we arrived at the hotel, when I told him I wanted to give him some positive feedback on his restaurants, his attitude took an odd turn. Since he was obviously busy when I let him know I wished to speak with him, my wife and I waited for him in the lounge right next to the reception desk where he was conferring with staff. Despite the fact that he had freed himself up and we had waited 20 minutes, directly in his line of sight, he did not re-approach us.So, we returned to our room and never heard from him again. All in all, though, I would highly recommend the Ritz if you travel to Kyoto.
A couple of weeks ago, I had the chance to have a lovely afternoon tea experience at the Ritz-Carlton lobby lounge. The service was amazing and the food was great! They had vegan options, which was perfect for me!
Special thanks to Nosaka Yuri and
Ayami Taniguchi for their friendliness!
Hope to come back soon!
My husband and I are avid travelers and have stayed at some of the best properties in the world. Park Hyatt Vendome in Paris and the Fairmont Princess in Montreaux. But I have to say that the Kyoto Ritz-Carlton was hands down the best hotel we have visited, and my hotel-snob of a husband had to agree.
The hotel itself is understated in its elegance. The best comparison I have for it is the Park Hyatt Sydney. It's dark and moody and very Japanese in a beautiful way. Some of the female employees wear kimonos which I might find kitschy in some places but here it seemed suitable. They were stunning.
The staff is trained so well that it was almost embarrassing at times. My husband came downstairs in our American jeans and sneakers and were treated like royalty.
But the activities are what really sets this hotel apart from other hotels even luxury hotels in the area and make it a MUST for anyone visiting Kyoto.
As any traveler knows, booking excursions and finding your way around a new city is difficult. You can always take a taxi, but I feel like that way I'm not able to see the city in its entirety. The Ritz-Carlton Kyoto has taken care of that for you with their FREE (yes, I could not believe it) activities that allow you to see the city with a guide, from your hotel.
We took full advantage of the activities. Our first was a morning hike. Our guide was the lovely Margaux who spoke excellent English. We took an electric bike ride (so fun!) to the base of the hike. She answered all of our questions with grace and knowledge. We were almost the only people at the summit and barely passed anyone on the hike. Spread before us was the entire city of Kyoto. It was breath-taking. (*note - we later hiked the touristy Monkey Mountain near Arishmaye and were extremely disappointed. The views were not nearly as good as the hike we took and it was much farther away and very touristy, not to mention you had to pay!) After the hike Margaux showed us all of her favorite street foods and we took our time eating and chatting with her.
Later that day we took the Japanese Sweets class, which does cost money - I think $35 a person, but for a private class is well worth it. Our instructor was, I don't know how else to describe him - adorable. His smile lit up the room. He was very hands-on and we had a lovely translator there the whole time (the beautiful Ebisu!) and they served us tea with our sweets we made and sent us home with a keepsake box.
The next day we were supposed to take a tour of the Fushimi Inari Shrine but it was raining. Margaux called to apologize and said she would take us later that day. We ended up visiting the touristy and overrated Monkey Mountain and Arashiyama Bamboo Forest. Later she took us out at our convenience to the shrine and spent two hours explaining the significance of each portion of the shrine. We absolutely loved it and would have been so lost without a guide. Again, this was FREE if you are a guest.
Very kindly, Margaux called to offer a last-minute visit to a Buddhist temple the following morning. This does have a charge but in my opinion, it is minuscule considering what you get. This is a private tour only the Ritz Carlton does. It is NOT a tourist trap. I could not believe how genuine the experience was. In fact, I was almost emotional while there because it was so beautiful and special and I felt privileged to be a witness.
We took the electric bikes to the temple which was our favorite as usual, though they offered to pay for a taxi. The monk we met with chanted for 15 minutes while we got to observe. Then we were taken to another room where we received a private drum lesson. I could not wipe the smile off my face. It was thrilling! And so special. We were then taken to a private Japanese breakfast (absolutely delicious) and were able to ask the monk questions with a translator sent from the hotel. (Shirley, you are wonderful and I wish you a million promotions.) We were given a paper handout translation of the words the monk spoke to bless the food. We didn't want to leave it was so peaceful and tranquil there. The view of the temple inside without tourists was something I will never forget. On our way out the monk gave us each a token of good luck from the temple which I will keep with our other trip souvenirs.
When we left via taxi later that morning for the rest of our trip, I told my husband I felt sad leaving because I really felt like I was leaving friends. This is not just a hotel. It is a full, comprehensive experience into the culture and natural beauty of Kyoto. Please do yourself the honor - even if you have to save up to do it so you can stay here at least one night of your trip to Kyoto. It is an experience I will never forget.