Updated: April 21, 2016
- Hoshinoya Kyoto
(Hotel phone: +81 570-073-066)
The ultimate in Japanese elegance, Hoshinoya occupies a century-old former riverside villa in Arashiyama, with guests ferried 10 minutes to and from the property by boat. Every detail of this luxury hotel-ryokan hybrid is exquisite, from paper walls imprinted with 130-year-old woodblocks to seasonal meals that are true works of art. Each of the 25 rooms has views of the river and nature in all its glory, from cherry blossoms in spring to fiery red maples in fall.
- Hotel Kanra Kyoto
(Hotel phone: +81 75-344-3815)
With a contemporary yet traditional design, this 29-room boutique hotel borrows architectural details from the many machiya (merchant houses) that once graced many Kyoto neighborhoods. Latticework, raised platform beds, tatami areas with modular furniture, and hinoki (cedar) soaking tubs impart the essence of this ancient city, which guests can explore with the hotel’s rental electric bicycles, powered by rooftop solar panels.
(Hotel phone: +81 75-746-5555)
With an enviable position on the bank of the Kamogawa river, this 134-room property blends in with its historic surroundings with low-slung buildings and an understated design that resembles a Japanese inn. Its interior is a fusion of traditional and contemporary Japanese styles, complete with Zen gardens, a three-story waterfall, and artwork created by 80 mostly Kyoto artists that center on The Tale of Genji, the world’s first major novel. Rooms are huge (starting at 45 sq.m/483 sq. ft.) and are luxuriously appointed, with the best providing vistas of the river and Higashiyama hills rising in the background.
- The Screen
(Hotel phone: +81 75-252-1113)
A hip boutique hotel that stands out by offering only 13 rooms, each designed by a different designer and ranging from Japanese-style rooms to themed rooms like the one decorated in black (to resemble the peacefulness of the womb). Its location is excellent, on a street lined with craft and antique stores just a short walk north of downtown Kyoto.
- Westin Miyako Kyoto
(Hotel phone: +81 75-771-7111)
Open since 1890, the Miyako is one of Japan’s most famous hotels. Although renovations and expansions over the years have transformed it into a thoroughly modern property, it conveys the spirit of old Kyoto with its attention to detail, superb hilltop setting near Nanzenji Temple and excellent service. Its 499 rooms offer a wide variety of choices, from those large enough for four people to 20 Japanese-style rooms in an annex. Sprawling over more than 16 acres, it has more facilities than almost any hotel in town, including both indoor and outdoor pools, a Japanese garden, children’s playroom, and even a bird sanctuary.