Suiran is a brand new luxury hotel in western Kyoto’s Arashiyama sightseeing district. I recently inspected Suiran. Here are my first impressions.
Suiran Garden Terrace Suite “Gyokuto” © Starwood
The first thing to note about Suiran is that it occupies an absolutely stunning location in Arashiyama. It’s within easy walking distance of such sites as Tenryu-ji Temple and the Arashiyama Bamboo Grove. And, it backs right up against the lovely Kameyama-koen Park.
It’s built on the north bank of the Hozu-gawa River, with incredible views over the river and over to the Arashiyama Mountains. You approach along a quaint riverside path, gradually leaving the hustle and bustle of Arashiyama’s main drag behind you. Finally, you enter find yourself in a fine courtyard and pass through the traditional main gate (preserved from the former incarnation of this property). It’s like entering another world. When I was there in the May shinryoku (new green) season, the surrounding leaves were almost surreal in their beauty.
Suiran Exterior © Starwood
The entrance and most of the property resemble a ryokan, but the Suiran is actually a hotel, albeit with a strong Japanese design aesthetic. Most rooms have some views of the river and mountains. The standard rooms are spacious, especially by Japanese hotel standards. They have balconies from which one can admire the surroundings.
The three suite rooms are truly superb. They are vast, light and airy and enjoy eye-popping views right over the river and mountains. They also feature private outside baths built into their balconies. Don’t worry: they’re cleverly designed so that you can enjoy the views without anyone enjoying a view of you!
The hotel restaurant serves Kyoto kaiseki cuisine (Japanese traditional haute cuisine) and has a small enclave with a teppanyaki grill where you can enjoy Japanese beef cooked in front of you. There’s also a superb little café built overlooking the river that serves coffee and tea (including green tea) and light meals. Note that non-guests can visit the café and this would be a calm refuge in a day of Arashiyama sightseeing.
There’s an on-site spa and bathing area, as well as an incredibly cramped and forgettable fitness room with two exercise bicycles.
Suiran Room Rendering © Starwood
As you might expect from a brand new property like this, the staff is still finding its stride. You might find that the service lags behind the quality of the rooms and the setting. The early reviews online reflect the early teething pains of the hotel. Hopefully, as time passes, the staff will become more polished and capable of dealing with the needs of luxury travelers.
You should also keep in mind that Arashiyama is relatively far out of the city. With a few notable exceptions, most of the nearby restaurants close down in the evening, and the entire area feels pretty quiet.
Thus, overall, Suiran is not ideal for those who demand the features and service of typical international luxury hotels. But, for those who want to enjoy large rooms, great views and the peaceful beauty of one of Kyoto’s most scenic areas, it’s a great choice.
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