Opened in October 2016, the Four Seasons Hotel Kyoto is one of the new flagship properties in the Four Seasons family that is taking luxury to a whole new level. Located in the vibrant Higashiyama-ku district, this luxurious property which took almost 5 years to build is the perfect hotel for any high end traveller.
As you make your way down the driveway of the hotel, which is laden with bamboo, you have this instant sense of calm and relaxation. Before entering the lobby, you are greeted by hotel staff that are always smiling, genuinely happy to see you and that will know you by name the next time they see you.
Arriving at the Four Seasons Hotel Kyoto, we took the Shinkansen (bullet train) from Osaka which took a whole 13 minutes and then jumped in a taxi for 10 minutes. We had arrived at around 1030 in the morning and check in went very smoothly. The staff were extremely attentive and friendly and offered us a complimentary triple upgrade from a Deluxe room to a Premier Room – Garden View. Having arrived quite early, our room was not available yet, however they arranged for the room to be cleaned right away and offered us some suggestions of places to visit until it was ready.
The property is absolutely beautiful and you can see a lot of thought went into the architecture of both the interior and exterior design. The lobby is inviting and has a zen feel about it, something you would think that is reserved for the hotel spa. Floral arrangements are continually changed to match the seasons and the marble floors matched with wooded surroundings makes for a modern, yet still traditional Japan scene.
On the floor which the lobby is located, you look down to the nine-metre high windows that draw you to the water terrace, 800 year old ikeniaw (pond) and zen garden that features cherry blossoms (at certain times of year), maples, traditional stone bridges and the famous Four Seasons Hotel Kyoto tea house (where you are able to organise a traditional tea ceremony).
The Four Seasons Hotel Kyoto has 110 guest rooms and 13 suites and it’s the perfect size for a big brand hotel in my opinion. The one issue I have with a lot of big brand hotels is that they go ahead and build 500 rooms, so you never have that sense of privacy and high end level service. With keeping the room numbers low like the Four Seasons Hotel Kyoto, it meant the staff can focus 100% on the guest and making sure that the stay is an experience in itself.
For our stay, we were upgraded to the Premier Room – Garden View and it was absolutely stunning and luxurious. The rooms were built off a traditional minimalist design, which is what Japan is known for. Opening the door, the hallway into the bedroom reminded me of the older streets of the city, the cupboards and walls made by shoji panels and fusama screens. To the left of the entrance is a butlers closet where we are told that anything we request, such as a newspaper or laundry will be left for us upon our return. The windows of the room were floor to ceiling, looking out to the pond garden and Kyoto in the distance, it was the perfect place for our four night stay.
The room is 53 square metres (approx 570 feet) and features a king bed (two doubles if requested), sitting area with couch to take in all the views, a small desk for any work (wasn’t going to be happening), a coffee machine and 55-inch flat screen tv in the living area. A service that I have never used but was there for the choice is the Customised Four Seasons Bed where you get to choose the pillow type you want and also have the choice of mattress topper. The bed was one of the most comfortable I have ever slept on, so there was no need to change anything. The bathroom features a deep soaking tub and separate rain shower but my favourite things were the in-mirror tv and also the automated toilet that opens when you walk in.
Food and Drinks
Buffet breakfast was included in my stay at the Brasserie which is located on the 1st foor of the hotel, overlooking the pond and gardens. The windows are 9 metres high so you get that sense of space to enjoy your meal. For breakfast, there is a full buffet plus the choice of a la carte items. The service at the restaurant was of the highest level, but not in your face, with the wait staff making sure you are not only enjoying your meal, but also enjoying your stay and recommending places to visit throughout the city.
In the evening, head upstairs to The Lounge & Bar which is a casual bar featuring some amazing cocktails and local beers.
The other dining option to try while you are at the Four Seasons Hotel Kyoto is Sushi Wakon, which is a One-Michelin-Starred restaurant. The head chef and creator Master Chef Rei Masuda is a famous sushi chef, having learnt his skills and worked with some of Japan’s master sushi chefs. Sushi Wakon is an experience in itself with the restaurant having a 10 seat sushi counter or the choice of two private dining rooms (8 seat or 4 seat).
The Four Seasons Hotel Kyoto has a 24 hour gym and the range of equipment is something all hotels should be learning from. I wouldn’t say going to the gym is my favourite activity while on holidays but I always try to go once or twice in each city to work off the amounts of food I usually eat. The gym here was amazing and I was able to get full workouts in without feeling like I had to improvise due to lack of equipment.
My favourite part of the hotel, and that of my family who I brought with me was the pool. I’ve always been a big fan of hotel pools and this one was the most impressive yet. The 20 metre indoor pool, with two matching whirlpool jacuzzis and submerged stone beds was designed for the ultimate relaxation. The detailed large stoned walls go perfectly with the wood pool beds and white cushioned cabanas. Provided by the staff are teas, juices and fruit water along with small snacks.
The one thing Ive realised is that it doesn’t matter if you are staying at the Four Seasons Resort Bali at Sayan or the Four Seasons Resort Oahu, the staff really go above and beyond to know who their guests are and to create impressions that last a lifetime.
At the heart of the hotel is the 800 year old pond garden that focuses on traditional Japanese pasts and the modern design mixes well to make this the most luxe property in Kyoto. The location is perfectly set in the temple district but you feel like you have escaped into a private sanctuary of zen.
The hotel is lit with natural light, coming through the floor to ceiling windows and the beauty of the hotel will set this apart from anything you have seen before.