This incredible and peaceful mountain retreat is located just far enough away from the bustle of downtown Kyoto to be idyllic and is accessible only by the hotel’s boat. Yet this does not compromise the ability of HOSHINOYA Kyoto guests to journey to the city whenever the mood strikes them. However, you may not want to leave the retreat as HOSHINOYA is more of an experience for the body, mind and soul and not just a room to sleep in.
After visitors officially check in, they will be greeted with hot, freshly brewed tea and a variety of Japanese pastries. Communication is not an issue as the hotel staff speak remarkably good English. They are also kind and very helpful to those who are staying here.
The hotel’s extremely spacious rooms are decorated in classic Japanese style but with welcome Western touches. Many of the rooms have beautiful views of the nearby river, and all the rooms have heated flooring. The room includes an inviting sandalwood bathtub. Herbs and flowers are also provided to toss into the tub while bathing, so that guests can enjoy an aromatic, relaxing soak. Each room comes with other amenities such as free Wi-Fi, toiletries, and coffee makers.
In addition, the HOSHINOYA Kyoto also provides guests with useful items such as flashlights, umbrellas, pajamas, and an array of additional supplies. In keeping with Japanese tradition, patrons are required to take off their shoes before entering the private villa rooms, but slippers are provided for everyone staying here.
Not only is the hotel situated in a scenic area, a variety of onsite activities are available for guests. Seasonal boat tours on the river can be arranged during certain portions of the year. During the first week of April, the Cherry Blossom Boat Lunch Cruise will take place at the hotel. The river cruise will provide guests with views of the lovely Arashiyama Valley, the seasonal cherry blossoms, and the historic Togetsu Bridge. As the name implies, these tours come with a tasty Bento box lunch.
Though the boat tours are only offered at select times, there are many different things to do at the hotel throughout the year. Guests can take a class on aromatherapy and incense or spend time learning how to arrange flowers in the traditional Japanese style. There is also a class on the proper way to wear a Kimono. Once you have mastered the stylish art, you can then walk through the streets of Kyoto in all your rented finery.
There are also free green tea ceremonies offered by the hotel at various times and you can learn the ancient art of paper printing.
The Kyoto Sightseeing Tour is another option for hotel visitors. This trek through the town can be an hour-long journey or an eight-hour sightseeing marathon, depending on the guest’s preference. Early risers can attend morning temple worship at the nearby Zen shrine. Afterward, participants can enjoy a refreshing cup of ceremonial tea while learning meditation techniques from the local Zen monks.
Those who are not morning people will be happy to learn that rickshaw rides can be arranged for any hour of the day. Visitors can also arrange to view a traditional theatrical performance at a local tea house, complete with live music and a meal, at whatever time best suits them.
Another point of interest to HOSHINOYA Kyoto guests is the scenic train ride along the nearby Hozu Ravine. The nearby station has a steam engine display and a number of retired locomotives. Those that find the trains too uneventful will be delighted to learn they can arrange a boat trip to take on the Ooi River’s white water instead. The round trip train ride lasts about 50 minutes and the river journey takes four hours.
Tasty seasonal cuisine is the mainstay of the chief restaurant at this hotel. The emphasis is generally on time-honored Kaiseki dishes, but the food guests are served might have a French or international twist all the same.The flagship eatery is clearly well deserving of its one Michelin star.
The second restaurant is the Arashiyama Kitcho which has three Michelin stars and also serves up Kaiseki cuisine. At this eatery, guests are served meals in either 10- or 11-course portions. The food is excellent in all locations, and the sake selection is exemplary. The meal is traditional Japanese, with the waiter explaining to you about each of the dishes and the traditional way to eat it.
The room service menu is available at any hour that hunger strikes. It features Japanese comfort foods such as soba noodles and udon soup as well as healthy choices like green salads. Breakfast is bought to your room each morning, and guests can choose from a traditional Japanese or western breakfast. They even cook your breakfast in the room, so you know it’s fresh.
There is a spa located in the hotel, but in-room massages are also available. Another spa offering is the Zen purification program, which is a short course designed to help participants detox. The hotel also has a library lounge with books, CDs, and magazines for those staying here. The library area has both river views and comfortable couches and is open all day.
The hotel grounds additionally feature two beautifully landscaped gardens which are illuminated after dark so that visitors may continue to enjoy them once the sun has set. Another interesting feature of this hotel is the Japanese room, which has traditional games and other cultural activities on offer. In addition to all these facilities, there is an open-air terrace which overlooks the river and provides a peaceful dining experience.
Located about a 10-minute walk from the hotel, there is a Zen Temple dating back to the 1300s that was created in honor of Emperor Daigo II. It is a World Heritage Site and also has been named a Special Historical Scenic Area by the Japanese government. Plenty of shopping and other sightseeing options can also be found nearby.
For visitors traveling to Kyoto who wish to experience Japanese hospitality at its finest, look no further than the HOSHINOYA Hotel. The experience is one you will remember for years to come.