Suiran Hotel, Kyoto

Kyoto is the historic capital of Japan and is certainly the most popular city for tourists seeking out the country’s cultural and traditional highlights. I chose to stay on the outskirts of town in the beautiful town of Arashiyama. Just a 20-minute train from the city centre, the new Suiran hotel is ideally located for sightseeing, and is surrounded by significant temples and gardens.

Arashiyama was once the destination for the emperor’s summer holidays, an idyllic retreat by the emerald green Hozu River. The land now occupied by The Suiran once belonged to Tenryu-ji Temple, a UNESCO world heritage site, which guests can visit nearby. 115 years ago a rich businessman bought the land from the temple and built his summerhouse here, much of which has been retained.

Suiran opened in March 2015, the first luxury accommodation in the area. The boutique hotel has 39 rooms, ranging in size and price. The authentic Japanese-style design is evident throughout the bedrooms and communal spaces, with thoughtful modern details and additions. The open plan rooms are spacious and uncluttered, with large windows that let in plenty of light and display the stunning surrounding nature. In Spring and Autumn this is a particular bonus as guests can enjoy the pink cherry blossom and red Autumn leaves.

Book one of the 17 deluxe rooms which include a wooden outdoor open-air bath, filled with naturally healing onsen spa water. For special occasions the four suites are a grand example of the finest Japanese artistry and materials. With traditional tearooms and peaceful Japanese gardens to enjoy. I immediately noticed the thoughtful décor in our room – a carpet designed to look like the reflection of the moon in water and radiant blue sinks by local Shingaraki pottery. On the bed, patterned Japanese dressing gowns were ready to wear.

Two existing historic buildings, Enmei-kaku and Hasshoken, have been transformed into the hotel restaurant and cafe, and they feel particularly atmospheric. At Cafe Hassei guests can enjoy the Suiran signature Japanese afternoon tea while looking enjoying the scenic views. The restaurant is a sophisticated dining room, used for breakfast and dinner. Each morning we devoured a feast of Japanese and European breakfast dishes: from eggs benedict and pastries to Japanese salad and soup. Fresh smoothies are made each day from seasonal fruits.

At dinner we tried Kaiseki; a traditional multi-course Kyoto meal. This formal style of dining is offered in Michelin star establishments all over the city, but Suiran’s offering is just as elaborate and exciting. Ten tiny dishes arrived in quick succession: marinated seafood, unusual vegetables, and the finest quality meat. Cups of tea accompanied the courses, and subtly complemented the delicate flavours.

The Suiran is a beautiful and relaxing place to stay in Kyoto. Removed from the buzz of the main city centre, an experience here will feel more authentic and immersive.

More information and book a stay at Suiran Hotel here.

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