Recently I had the pleasure of inspecting the new Ritz-Carlton Kyoto, which opened in February 2014. It’s a welcome addition to Kyoto, which desperately needed some new luxury hotel beds.
The Ritz-Carlton Kyoto takes the place of the drab and dated Hotel Fujita, which occupied this prime piece of real estate for years. I have been watching the Ritz-Carlton since construction started and I was delighted to see the final product.
The building, while modern, is designed with a traditional Kyoto sensibility, and the result is superb: It’s one of the few buildings in recent years to complement, rather than detract from the Kyoto cityscape. If only more developers displayed the same respect for the city!
Located on the west bank of the Kamo-gawa River, just north of Nijo-dori Street, the hotel commands an impressive view over the river and the Higashiyama Mountains. It’s an easy and scenic 10-minute walk from the center of downtown Kyoto. You can also reach Gion and the Higashiyama sightseeing district within about 20 minutes on foot. Likewise, the Kyoto Gyoen, Kyoto’s fine central park, is only a 10-minute walk away. Perhaps only the Kyoto Hotel Okura can boast a more convenient location. I’m sure that guests will enjoy strolling along the banks of the Kamo-gawa or ambling along tree-lined Kiyamachi-dori.
The Ritz-Carlton screams “exclusive” from the word go. Unlike most other hotels, where the lobby feels like a public space, the lobby of the Ritz-Carlton feels like an inner sanctum.
The lack of a true front desk adds to the tranquility here. Instead of a bustling check-in counter, there is a small concierge counter and greeting desk. When guests arrive, they are shown to their rooms and given a welcome drink, and complete the check-in formalities in the comfort of their room.
The rooms are tastefully designed and spacious, especially by Japanese standards. The rooms are dominated by floor-to-ceiling windows, and riverside rooms feature eye-popping views of the entire Higashiyama Range, stretching from Hiei-zan in the north to Fushimi in the south.
There is a spacious Japanese restaurant, Mizuki, which serves sushi, kaiseki, tempura and teppanyaki. There’s also a beautiful Italian restaurant, La Laconda, includes a beautiful Japanese-style dining room, along a Western-style tables and bar. Finally, there’s a nice swimming pool and a full spa.
It’s certain that the Ritz-Carlton Kyoto will grab a grab a major share of the top-end Kyoto travel market. Given the superb sights and restaurants that can be enjoyed in Kyoto, it’s only appropriate that the city can offer some truly luxurious accommodations to come home to after a day of sightseeing.
Visit Booking.com or Agoda.com to check availability and pricing at the Ritz-Carlton Kyoto, as well as see more images of the rooms and amenities.
Kyoto Vacation Checklist
- For all the essentials in a brief overview, see my First Time In Kyoto guide
- Check Kyoto accommodation availability on Booking.com – usually you can reserve a room with no upfront payment. Pay when you check out. Free cancellations too
- Need tips on where to stay? See my one page guide Where To Stay In Kyoto
- See my comprehensive Packing List For Japan
- Buy a data-only SIM card online for collection when you arrive at Kansai International Airport (for Osaka and Kyoto) or Tokyo's Narita Airport. Or rent an unlimited data pocket wifi router
- Compare Japan flight prices and timings to find the best deals
- If you're visiting more than one city, save a ton of money with a Japan Rail Pass – here's my explanation of why it's worth it
- A prepaid Suica card makes travelling around Kyoto easy – here's how
- World Nomads offers simple and flexible travel insurance. Buy at home or while traveling and claim online from anywhere in the world