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Our arrival to the Ritz Carlton Kyoto was one filled with great expectations. The hotel has been open for little over a year and the city of Kyoto is a well regarded tourist destination domestically and abroad.
Transportation to an interior world
What is first noticeable about the hotel is how essentially Japanese it is. A low rise structure which stretches along the city’s main riverfront tucked away behind green shrubs, flowing waterways and unique stone walls. Walking into the lobby is a series of passageways that gradually leave the world outside far away. We followed a path over an inclined stone waterfall, entered a long, cool corridor with seamless walls, floors and ceiling and finally entered the main social space of the hotel, intimate and yet expanding into several levels and directions above and below ground.
The check in staff were quite gracious and while they could not provide us with a room at our time of arrival, they were proactive in finding ways for us to pass the time. We were given some tips to explore the surrounding area and given access to the pool and wet areas of the Spa.
Our status with the hotel brand allowed us to have a very nice upgrade and the room was certainly one of the highlights of the hotel. The decor is quintessential traditional Japanese. Lots of wood, stone, minimalist design, squares and right angles. The room blends an earthy feel with plush comforts where they count: in the full tub, soft beds, plush chairs and lounge sofa. The rectangular floor to ceiling, wall to wall windows give the whole room its focal point as they look out over the river and cityscape. In room technologies are abundant and the lighting makes every space unique.
Everything in the hotel is purposefully placed. From room decor to the layout of social areas and the spa, it just sings intentionality. The spa, gym, pool and wet areas are particular gems. Located on the lowest floor, they are beautifully appointed. The use of artificial and natural light gives the place an aura of coolness. The pool area is inviting and relaxing, sauna and steam are top of the line and the gym while small has the best equipment one could ask for. A dedicated bridal area, social and meeting facilities and the main lobby restaurant complete the offerings.
Overall the Ritz Carlton Kyoto creates a sense of place that is long lasting, from the rock garden waterfall that cascades from the lobby down to the pool level, to the eclectic traditional Japanese decor and intimate sense of luxury that inspires tranquility and purpose.