We started our stay in Kyoto at the newly built (opened in 2014!) Ritz Carlton Kyoto. I was very interested to try out this hotel because it was, and still is, the only “Western” style luxury hotel in Kyoto (ryokans of course are another matter). I have to admit that I haven’t had the best experience with Ritz Carltons in the past few years, and will almost always choose a Four Seasons or Mandarin Oriental if I have the choice in any given location.
I am happy to report however, that the Ritz Carlton Kyoto ended up being one of my favorite city hotel stays, ever. It is such a beautiful property, and you can tell that an incredible amount of thought and attention to detail was put into it. Mr. Feather and I had such a great time here, and loved our stay. A warning – this is a picture heavy post!
When arriving at the hotel, we were immediately taken by how well it translated to its traditional surroundings in Kyoto. No tall modern skyscraper like structures here – very unobtrusive yet still elegant.
We were greeted at reception and after a welcome drink, were walked up to our room to do check-in in the room. I loved the details on each of the doors – there were thoughtful touches like this all over the hotel.
And then, our room. So pretty! And, quite a nice size! The couch was super comfortable to lounge on and the perfect place to perch while the other person hung out on the bed.
My favorite aspect of the room – the view. There was a gorgeous sitting area that looked out onto Kyoto’s Kamo River. Often we’d just sit and have tea and look out over the water and people watch. And then when we walked back to the hotels ourselves, we’d head down the same riverbanks!
I loved that there was an individually selected bonsai tree for each room, and it was switched out each day.
Little details all throughout the bedroom/living space – individual robes which were hung in the closet, and Tivoli alarm clocks. I don’t know how many times I’ve entered beautiful, super expensive hotel rooms only to encounter cheapie and very old alarm clocks. No stone left unturned!
There was also a lovely minibar area that not only had the ubiquitous Nespresso machine, but also a contraption for making the perfect tea via pod capsule. I had never seen this before, am I just behind on the times?
The Ritz Carlton also had the prettiest in room tea service set and minibar out of any place we stayed. All of the silverware was Christofle. Very nice touch.
And then, there was the bathroom. I typically don’t gush over bathrooms, but the Ritz Carlton’s was lovely. Lots of counter space of course, with separate areas for the tub and waterfall shower.
The best part was the tub. There were gorgeous wood floors like in a traditional Japanese onsen bath, and look at the beautiful walls. I took a few baths here, how could you not?
Toiletries were stored in a pretty lacquer box. Hair, bath and body products were Asprey. Nice touch to have something different, but am I the only one who wouldn’t mind having some actual “good” hair products in the room? Give me some miniature Fekkai and I’ll be taking home a whole set out in my luggage.
Now you can see why it was hard to leave our room…but of course we did, especially with so many other great facilities in the hotel. Including the beautiful pool (I hardly ever saw it used).
And a fantastic spa. Mr. Feather and I each enjoyed several massages here. I had the best pre-natal treatment ever as well! So comfortable and I was snoring away in no time. Our therapists were all fantastic.
And then, of course the food! The Ritz Carlton Kyoto, like most Japanese luxury hotels, had a variety of great dining options, both Japanese and Western. What made the hotel truly unique however in my opinion, was its close collaboration with Pierre Herme. It is the only hotel in the world (that I know of) to have a Pierre Herme location actually inside, and the Ritz collaborated closely with him for its own menus.
Each morning, we’d head downstairs to enjoy our breakfast.
Each morning, there was a spread with the usual delicacies on offer – Chinese, Japanese, and Western options. You could either sit with a lovely view out the window, or in one of the private rooms. We always ate in one of the rooms to have some space and quiet time. I usually would opt for some version of the Japanese menu, it was delicious!
However, I also couldn’t help but indulge in a sweet treat afterwards. All the bakery goods at breakfast were Pierre Herme, as was the fruit salad, muesli, and yogurt and jams. Ispahan croissant, anybody?
I stuffed myself silly at breakfast. It was a bit shameful. I’d think that I’d eaten all I possibly could ingest of sweet baked goods. Yet come each afternoon, when we returned to the hotel from our afternoon activities, I couldn’t help but stop for a few macarons. I mean, they were right there! And there was a special flavor just for the Ritz Carlton Kyoto which I loved…green tea with black sesame.
On one of our last days in the hotel, I decided to indulge and complete my full Pierre Herme experience, by booking afternoon tea. I love a good afternoon tea anywhere, but of course this was again special – it was Pierre Herme.
The setting, in the lobby lounge, was of course gorgeous.
And the food and tea themselves were fantastic. The savories were delicious and the desserts included mini Ispahan tarts, eclairs, and of course macarons. I decided to go full gorge and added on a Pierre Herme hot chocolate as well. Refills of the drinks were included. Pierre, I love you!
Overall, I absolutely loved our stay at the Ritz Carlton Kyoto. Definitely one of my favorite hotel stays ever, and my favorite Ritz Carlton. The hotel was just stunning….each person has their own individual design decor preferences, and I have to say that this property’s was perfect for me. I loved that so much thought and detail went into it.
What I loved? The design of course as I mentioned…the food (please make sure to book a package which has breakfast included), and the service. The service was wonderful (of course, it is Japan), but what really made our experience stand out was that I felt the staff cared. The concierge made a small error when advising us on a sight one evening, and we ended up spending a bit of the time wandering in the cold outside. No big deal and I let the evening concierge on the duty know that the directions had been slightly off when we returned. The following day, our original concierge was not only completely gracious and apologized, but presented us with a small gift she had selected for our baby. It was a wonderful gesture and made our interactions more personal.
Areas for improvement: Honestly this is quite difficult, because I loved our stay so much. I might say…the price! The Ritz Carlton is by far the most expensive Western option in Kyoto, and in high season (or during periods like Chinese New Year while we were there), rates can start at $750+, and that was already with a weaker yen. But in my opinion….the hotel can easily command these types of rates, and it was indeed full during our stay.
Thanks for reading my (very long) hotel review, and next time I’ll be covering more of our sights and eats in Kyoto!