Take a look at the best luxury hotels in Kyoto.
Inspired by ryokans, the traditional Japanese inn common in the area, the five-pearl Ritz-Carlton Kyoto is a decidedly decadent take on what's conventionally a simple affair. Standouts include the luxurious spa with a beautiful indoor pool, a Technogym equipped fitness center, and a restaurant serving a variety of Japanese fare, from kaiseki to sushi. Another guest favorite are the activities offered here, some of which are free, like art tours and origami classes. The 134 spacious rooms (some are tatami-style) are chock-full of amenities like Nespresso machines and minibars stocked with gourmet products, plus luxurious bathrooms have TVs in mirrors, soaking tubs, and rainfall showers. Though not quite as luxurious, the Hyatt Regency Kyoto offers a more wallet-friendly alternative with comparable features, but no pool.
With a history dating back to 1818, the luxury Hiiragiya is a Japanese inn ("ryokan") located in the middle of Kyoto that takes pride in upholding traditional customs. Its 28 rooms are individually designed and most have customary rice-straw floor mats, low-rise furniture, screen walls, and sliding doors. Modern conveniences include minibars, free Wi-Fi, and contemporary bathrooms with showers and bathtubs. Kyoto-style Kaiseki meals are served in rooms or the on-site restaurant (two meals are included in rates). Travelers looking for Western amenities such as a gym or business center may be disappointed, but those who appreciate the ryokan experience will find Hiiragiya an impressive example. The nearby Hotel Granvia Kyoto offers modern luxury features at lower rates, but it lacks the history and culture.
Located in historic Higashiyama Shichijo and a seven-minute drive to Kyoto Station, the Hyatt Regency Kyoto is a 189-room luxury hotel with minimalistic decor inspired by traditional Japanese design. Rooms are spacious and simple with light-wood detailing and generous granite bathrooms with a large wet-room shower and a separate bathtub. There's a range of upscale amenities, including fitness classes, a spa, and a plethora of on-site restaurants offering different decor and cuisines. Guests rave about the impeccable service. Travelers looking for a similarly luxurious hotel closer to Kyoto Station should try the Hotel Granvia Kyoto.
Hotel Granvia Kyoto gains its four-pearl status from its sheer size with 596 rooms and 11 restaurants and bars. It’s not truly luxurious, but it generally features a modern design. Rooms feature mini-fridges and espresso makers, and the bathrooms are quite spacious. Though leisure activities like an indoor pool and gym are attractive, they’re associated with a fee, as are most other amenities here such as a hot and cold breakfast. A location inside the JR Kyoto Station still draws mostly couples who like to be connected to the metro, shopping mall, and museum in the station. For slightly higher rates, it’s worth comparing the Kyoto Tokyu Hotel which doesn’t bother guests with pesky fees for their gym and has a spa on-site.
One of the tallest buildings in Kyoto, the 322-room Kyoto Hotel Okura offers skyline views of the city and a luxury experience that includes spacious rooms and six on-site restaurants, a baby room, as well as free Wi-Fi. The hotel's central location makes it within walking distance of Kyoto City Hall, Honnoji Temple, and Shimadzu Foundation Memorial Hall. Accommodations cater to Western expectations with designer toiletries, minibars, and coffeemakers. By comparison, the similarly priced Hotel Granvia Kyoto is larger, more modern, and includes an indoor pool and an underground shopping mall.
Located in a residential area of Kyoto, the four-pearl Kyoto Brighton Hotel is stylish and spotless, with 182 guest rooms. The four on-site restaurants feature a variety of cuisines: Western, Japanese, Teppanyaki, and Chinese, and the huge lobby includes an attractive lounge bar. Though the location is a bit out of the way -- it's about a six-minute walk to the Kyoto Imperial Palace -- the hotel offers shuttle service to the nearest subway station. For another upscale option closer to the city center, travelers might want to consider Kyoto Hotel Okura, which has a pool (Kyoto Brighton's pool has closed) and an on-site fitness center, at similar rates.
This upper-middle-range hotel, part of the worldwide Jal hotel chain, offers upscale accommodations in a central location near Shijo-karasuma subway station. The 216 rooms, which range from Standard to Princess Suites, are spacious, especially for Japan, and are more in the style of a European hotel, though the decor could use some updating. The five on-site restaurants include a teppanyaki grill, where food is cooked at the table, and the Amber Court serves a sumptuous buffet breakfast, but the wait for a table can be long. The similarly priced Kyoto Hotel Okura has more modern decor, and fitness facilities.
Kyoto Tokyu Hotel is an upscale property near the Nishi Honganji temple, a short shuttle ride from Kyoto Station. The 430 rooms are clean, with straightforward modern decor, and some of the bathrooms are on the small side. The hotel has three restaurants serving a variety of cuisines as well as a tea lounge and bar. There’s a small fitness center, beauty salon, spa and souvenir shop are also on-site, but no pool. Guests might want to also check rates at Royal Park Hotel the Kyoto, an upper-mid range property with spacious, modern rooms close to the Gion Geisha District.
Part of a small chain of hotels throughout Japan themed around European cities, the centrally located, upper-middle-range Hotel Monterey Kyoto combines elements of Kyoto style with the tradition of Great Britain, Edinburgh in particular, right down to the Scotch-plaid carpeting in the Cafe & Bar. The over-the-top replica of an Upper Chelsea wedding chapel verges on kitschy, though. The 327 rooms range from Standard Singles, which can feel cramped, to Deluxe Corner Twins and Family Rooms with sitting areas. The hotel has two restaurants -- the French Escale and the Japanese-focused Zuientei, plus the Cafe & Bar, designed to mimic a "stately" home. Access to the top-floor spa, with spring-water filled baths, comes with a fee, as does the Japanese- and Western-style breakfast buffet.
Located outside the city center near the Kamo River, the upscale Seikoro Inn is a "ryokan," a traditional Japanese inn with dedicated in-room service, communal baths, and guidelines that guests are expected to follow. Opened in 1831, this 22-room hotel reflects a traditional Japanese aesthetic, with bamboo, woven elements, a trove of antiques, and a serene garden. Rooms are spacious and spartan, with floor cushions and tatami mat beds made up on the floor, but modern additions like flat-screen TVs and free Wi-Fi can also be found. For some, a stay here is relaxing and a rich cultural experience; others feel oppressed by the lack of privacy and underwhelmed by the facilities given the high cost. Those who want the ryokan experience at a lower price point could consider the Kyoto Garden Ryokan Yachiyo.
This large, 499-room Westin has served as a hotel since 1900 and has an illustrious history, housing Allied officers during World War II, and now hosting state officials from all over the world. It’s set in the Kyoto’s charming Higashiyama district, at the foot of the Kyoto’s eastern mountains and is surrounded by beautiful Japanese-style gardens. The location is a bit removed from the city center, which is about 20 minutes by public transportation, though it's within walking distance of temples and museums. The hotel also runs a free shuttle to the Gion district and Kyoto station. There are several on-site restaurants, including one where guests cook food in traditional Japanese hot pots, as well as indoor and outdoor pools and a spa. Some parts of the building are a little dated, but it’s a nice option for travelers who appreciate history and the natural surroundings.
Located in the mountains to the northeast of Kyoto, the 29-room L'Hotel de Hiei caters to guests looking for an upscale getaway far from the city bustle. Close to Mount Hiei and the Garden Museum Hiei, the hotel makes it easy for travelers to commune with nature, but it's a 30-minute drive or more to many parts of downtown Kyoto. The common areas and rooms interpret traditional French and Western decor through a Japanese appreciation for clean lines and minimalist ornamentation. The result is upscale and homey, and the free Wi-Fi and minibars are both nice. Guests may also want to consider Kyoto Brighton Hotel, a more modern property in a quiet, residential setting, though within walking distance of Kyoto Imperial Palace.