Getting There – JAL First Class
Hotel Review: Ritz-Carlton Tokyo
Guide to Tsukiji Fish Market
Room Service Review: Ritz-Carlton Tokyo
Day in Tokyo
Shinkansen Bullet Train
Hotel Review: Ritz-Carlton Kyoto
Tea at the Ritz-Carlton Kyoto
Day 1 in Kyoto
Day 2 in Kyoto
Room Service Review: Ritz-Carlton Kyoto
Getting to Hiroshima
Hotel Review: Sheraton Hiroshima
Day trip to Miyajima
Day in Hiroshima
St. Regis Osaka
Day in Osaka
The white-gloved driver pulled the taxi right up to the porte-cochere where three well-dressed Ritz employees were standing attentively. As soon as the vehicle stopped, two of them sprung into action and pulled the suitcases out of the trunk. The third led us along a path that meandered over the top of a shallow stream, where the cool water tumbled over smooth stones.
Entrance to Ritz-Carlton Kyoto
We paused for a moment outside to look at the gardens and listen to the sound of the water, before entering the building.
Once inside, I found myself in a quiet hallway with a set of dark French doors that slid open silently in front of me as I walked forward. I passed what I took to be a beautiful Japanese fern.
Just beyond the doors was something that resembled a custom glass encrusted Ukelele.
On the way to reception was a Pierre Hermé shop, and the shelves were lined with delectable cookies, candy and macarons.
The hostess mentioned that the property had a signature Green Tea macaron that was made especially for the Ritz-Carlton Kyoto that wasn’t carried at the Paris location, and gestured towards the glass case where a tray of the special macarons sat.
Signature Green Tea Macaron
Passing on the sweet treats I continued on to the main reception desk just around the corner.
Way to reception
After reaching the reception desk, a hostess gestured for us to have a seat while taking care of formalities. We were offered tea and chilled lemon-scented towels to freshen up with after the journey in. I redeemed 60,000 Ritz Rewards points per night for the room, since the standard rooms started around $550 a night for my dates and I definitely considered it to be a good redemption value.
Reception welcome area
Chilled towels and hot tea
After the necessary details were completed, the hostess said apologetically that because it was only 1pm the room was not quite ready. The hostess asked if we preferred to sit for a while in the lobby or if we would rather enjoy some afternoon tea. We chose the tea and she made arrangements with the lobby lounge.
Almost as soon as we were seated, the hostess came over and said the room was ready. The standard room at the property is the Deluxe room, and I had been hoping for an upgrade to a Deluxe Garden room because they had Japanese garden views. There are only 13 of the Garden rooms though, so I was pleased when the hostess said we had been upgraded to a Luxury room (one level above a Deluxe Garden) with a view of the Kamogawa river. She said that the Luxury rooms were also more private, as some of the Garden rooms faced one another. After we finished our tea, we went back over to the reception area and she led the way to our room on the 3rd floor.
Getting off the elevator there was a long bench with two indentations to show a comfortable place to sit, for those who might be waiting for the elevator.
Bench by elevator
It struck me how completely silent it was on the floor, which is one thing I love about Japanese hotels. No wailing kids, slamming doors, shouting guests, just a peaceful quiet. The decor was calm too, with muted golden tones and soft lighting.
My room was located near the end of the hall, but it didn’t really matter the location since I noticed the doors had a fantastic feature where after opening it automatically slowed down the door closing so that by the time it closed I could only hear the faintest click at the very moment that the metal lock closed in the mechanism. Like soft close drawers, but with doors. Ingenious.
The room was long and narrow, with an oval in the middle that created a hallway on either side.
Oval shaped room
Directly to the right was the toilet room. The Toto toilet had a heated seat with a whole wall panel of features including an auto flush, and the door to the loo also had a soft close feature.
Next was the closet, which had ample enough space that I could open two roller suitcases inside. There were only 5 regular hangers, but there was a shelf up high that I could lay folded items on. The closet also had two Yukata and Imabari bathrobes with slippers.
Starting down the long part of the hall was the sink and vanity area. There were two sinks, spread far apart. I immediately liked the natural wood bathroom design, and it felt like a comfortable residence rather than a hotel room.
The sink basins were nice and deep and there was plenty of counter space. There were also lots of mirrors and a lovely lacquered box that opened up to reveal amenities if I had forgotten something.
Deep stone sink basins
Box with amenities
The regular amenities were by Asprey, and a special gold-flecked Kyoto Shabon-ya handmade soap tied with a sweet red yarn was my favorite.
When I mentioned off-handedly that I loved the handmade soap but the Asprey brand wasn’t my favorite, the hostess promptly returned with a tray of stone containers. Each held a more lightly scented wash that had come from the hotel’s spa. What wonderful service!
I wasn’t sure if the back-lit mirrors were heated, but they emanated warmth which may have been because of the lights. There were also two western style bathrobes hanging on hooks by the door leading to the shower.
View back towards closet
The shower and tub were in the same room, but it wasn’t a shower/tub combo (thank goodness). The walls had a beautiful raised flower pattern on them. There was a handheld shower as well as a rain shower, and the area underfoot was wooden planks. I loved the wooden plank idea, and the wood was wonderfully warm underfoot when taking a shower and the wood gave off a pleasant earthy smell when hit with the hot streams of water.
The rain shower consisted of four separate panels with a light in the middle, and instead of directing water in one place it seemed each individual spray went a different way so it wasn’t easy to get a solid stream. The handheld was actually better.
The large tub had a soft padded headrest and came with a small plastic wrapped body towel and a loofah. There were also Kyoto Shabon-ya bath salts.
The couch looked nice but was a little too firm for leaning back on and relaxing. There were several silky pillows though which could be propped up.
At the end of the couch there was a small table that could be used as a tray for working or eating on while sitting there.
Next to the couch was a cabinet with a tea pot gently wrapped but ready for use.
I carefully unwrapped it and followed the hallway around to see the rest of the coffee/tea area.
Coffee & tea area
The tea pods were easy to use in the tea machine. Beautiful Japanese blue & white china was also provided in velvety soft drawers.
Blue & white china
Here’s the tea machine for the pods.
There was a Nespresso coffee machine too.
The other set of backlit wooden drawers were soft-close as well, and held everything from china, silverware, wine glasses and wine.
A minibar held an entire bottle of Grey Goose, but no Gin.
There was also a drawer of gourmet snack selections including a Dean & Deluca chocolate bar and some cookies.
The walls had natural wood tones, which gave the entire room a cozy feel.
Beautiful wood tones
The view from the floor to ceiling windows was lovely, with the lightly rushing Kamogawa flowing past and the Higashiyama mountains in the distance. The pathway across the river was frequented by people on foot and bicycle, and the chairs and table were a comfortable spot to sit and watch the clouds drift past.
Higashiyama mountains and Kamogawa river
Over by the large floor to ceiling windows a wooden structure had been built. The flooring was flush with the rest of the room so there was no step up or down needed, but it was as if it was a separate room.
The room came with its very own bonsai tree, which was unique. It was eye-level on a cabinet that also housed outlets, a phone, Ethernet cable for anyone still needing one, and some flip up drawers.
The table was a natural place to enjoy a meal, and I enjoyed frequent cups of tea too.
The TV tilted out of the wall so that it could be watched from the couch, bed, or chair.
TV tilted out
TV flush with wall
A plate of fresh fruit had been left as a welcome, along with a card welcoming us to the property.
There was also a small beautifully decorated box that was light as air. Opening the box I found two cookies dusted in a golden coloring that were crunchy and subtly sweet.
The heating/air conditioning vent was long and thin, carefully positioned across the top of the whole room so there was no blasting of air right in the face.
Air conditioning vent
There was an electrical outlet on the bedside panel, which was convenient. In fact, they were all over the room, which was great. No searching for outlets, as it seemed they were everywhere I wanted one to be. The bedside tables each had a built-in panel of electronic controls that were for the curtains, drapes and lights. There were different lighting “schemes” so you could hit one button and have just the reading lights and small dim ones go on overhead, and there was an easy master button that turned everything off when it was time for sleep. Everything except the button lighting, that is. I found myself covering up the buttons with a T-shirt at night, because the light was distracting.
The bed was absolutely enormous, and it took me a minute to figure out that it was two Queens pushed together which is why the bed was so much larger than a King. The two beds were carefully connected so they didn’t separate in the middle of the night and there was just the slightest dip where the crack in the middle was. The bed was firm which I loved but some readers may find too hard for their liking.
I have never slept in such a huge bed before. Have you?
The sheets were silky smooth and there were several pillows to choose from with just the right amount of fluff. Going to sleep, I didn’t hear a peep out of any other rooms or in the hallway.
This was a fantastic hotel stay. To me the property felt luxurious without being too flashy or glitzy. I appreciated the natural woods and well-designed room, and the staff was always right there to offer guidance or take care of something.
Tier 4 property, requiring 60,000 Ritz-Carlton Rewards points for a free night.
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