Formerly the imperial capital of Japan, Kyoto unlocks a world of history and tradition. Whilst the influence of the Western world slowly seeps in to the city; its tradition remains at the heart of the allure for any discerning traveler.
Finding a hotel experience that perfectly captures the spirit of the city is key, and Hoshinoya Kyoto does just that. The hotel provides its guests with its very own interpretation of what a “Japan of today” would have been like, if it had embraced its historic traditions along with modernisation. With its elegant and exquisite architecture, it fuses the traditional Ryokan with modern luxury, creating an incomparable experience for its guests.
To reach Hoshinoya, make your way to the South end of the Togetsukyo Bridge. Inaccessible by road, here you will find a boat which will transport you to the hotel reserved solely hotel guests. Embark on the Hiboki vessel and allow yourself to surrender to the Hoshinoya experience. Your pace will slow, and a feeling of serenity and calm takes over as you journey down the Oi River. Take in the mesmerising views of Arashiyama’s picturesque scenery as you arrive at the hotel’s dock — in a style seemingly reserved for aristocracy.
As you enter the resort, the air is filled with the crisp, clean air. Infused with the scents of the cold river water, and the abundance of the maple trees in the dense forest surrounding the retreat. Staff will lead you through the landscaped gardens which had been expertly designed by Hiroki Hasegawa, as the air is filled with the faint sounds of traditional live music. The experience is a gift for all senses, yet another fine touch to welcome you home for the night.
Navigate through the gardens and to one of the twenty-five rooms that were once part of the traditional Ryokan inn, formally home to Kyoto business tycoon Suminokura Ryoi. No expense has been spared to preserve the traditional Japanese architecture during the renovations of this resort before opening its doors in 2009. Incorporating all the traditional comforts and luxuries of modern living is where Hoshinoya truly shines. Designed by Architect Rie Azuma, there is a lightness in the wooden architecture and carefully considered details that pay homage to what once was a historical villa. Most formally known as the Ryokan inn set among the banks of the Hozugawa Oi- Gawa River.
Each of the guest rooms enjoy unobstructed views of the turquoise river below. As you pass through the Shoji sliding doors, slip in to the Hippari set provided by the hotel, and relax on the Tatami sofa created by the Hinoki Kogei furniture craftsmen collective. Making the most of the artisanal lighting, transcend into a float like state, as you run a hot bath in the cedar wood tub. A Japanese sound box emitting soft soothing songs in the background is the ultimate reward to any guest after a long day of sightseeing.
Although in-room dining is an option, sampling the seasonal menu curated by Michelin star Head Chef Ichiro Kubota is a culinary delight not to be passed on. A nine course sensory extravaganza, accompanied by a local sparkling sake will set the tone for your evening. End the night with a cocktail in the common room bar before retiring to your room for a peaceful night’s sleep in this rare setting of unobstructed silence.
There are a host of experiences on offer to guests at Hoshinoya; from meditation at the Kyoto Zen temple, in room massages, or a morning stretch class. Embracing any of these traditional activities will enrich and undoubtedly add value to your stay. The in-room breakfast experience is one that must not be missed. An unconventional breakfast of Japanese hot pot is served to tourists to fuel a long day of sight-seeing in the local area. Watch in awe as the staff re-invent your room, deconstructing tables and arrangements to set up a self-serving meal of seasonal vegetables, smoked salmon, teas and rice.
Every aspect of the hotel is delicately placed to enthral guests into an experience where time becomes no object, technology and the modern world fade into the distance, and guests unwind and embrace the serenity and peaceful nature of the surroundings. A night’s stay doesn’t come cheap, but there is nowhere like it in the world, Hoshinoya is a hotel you will never forget.
Images Courtesy of Jorge Abian and Hoshinoya Hotel
Words by Erin Fee
View our Gallery of the Hoshinoya Hotel
Read our Interview with Head Chef Ichiro Kubota