In the 17th century, tycoon Suminokura Ryoi built an incredible mansion by the Oi River to revel in the unique surroundings of Arashiyama. 100 years ago, this estate was transformed into an inn and today it remains as the site of HOSHINOYA Kyoto, an other-worldly riverside retreat.
Keep reading for our review of our 3 night stay at HOSHINOYA Kyoto.
Checking-in & getting there
To get to HOSHINOYA Kyoto from Tokyo, we took the Shinkansen according to the instructions on their Access Page here. From there, we walked towards the end of Togetsukyo bridge for the HOSHINOYA Kyoto Boat Landing.
The boat is only accessible by the hotel guests so we were taken to check-in desk and immediately we could feel the calm surround us.
After the check-in process was complete, we were escorted to the private boat and we peacefully made the 15-minute journey through the turquoise Oi River to the hotel.
There are 5 different rooms you can book at HOSHINOYA Kyoto and you can read about each room here. We stayed in the “Tanigasumi” and you can choose between a king bed or two single beds for this room so it’s good for couples, family or friends.
Each room at HOSHINOYA Kyoto followed the same contemporary ryokan design that we saw at check-in and paving the paths to each were stoned paths and carefully maintained plants that simply put you into a meditative trance.
Keeping to the traditional design, the rooms are furnished with floor-level furniture all of which are facing the windows so that guests can embrace the subdued natural light that peeks through the shoji paper sliding doors.
We spent most of our mornings sipping coffee by the window and waving to the boats passing downstream.
The colours of the surrounding trees change every season but we heard from staff that it’s especially beautiful during sakura season. The trees here apparently just bloom with cherry blossoms!
You may also notice from the image above that I’m wearing the hotel clothes, each guests receives 2 sets of these – the blue set is for wearing all around the hotel grounds (which all the guests do, even to dinner or to the bar) and the pink set is for sleeping and should only be worn inside your private room. Guests are also reminded to take off their shoes and put on the house slippers when inside the rooms.
A feature from the bathroom that we really loved was the oak bath tub. During turn down service, housekeeping leaves a surprise bath soak (a different one each day) and next to the tub is a speaker equipped with a playlist of soothing nature sounds. We ended up using this tub at the end of every day to relax our body and our mind before bed.
Executive Chef Ichiro Kubota plays homage to Kyoto’s seasonal changes by adding touches of seasonal moments and a dash of Western essence in each dish made at HOSHINOYA Kyoto.
From 7am to 10:30am daily, guests can book a Japanese Breakfast for
¥3,800 (excluding GST) which is delivered to your door and set-up in the comfort of your own room.
The star of the Japanese breakfast is the bubbling pot of broth. The entire table is laid out with fresh, seasonal vegetables and side dishes to cook with the broth or enjoy on their own. We really enjoyed eating this in our private room and it was pretty surreal to listen to the rustling leaves and birds chirping while you’re enjoying in-room dining!
If you prefer Western dishes, you can opt for the American Breakfast instead for ¥3,300 (excluding tax).
Instead of a pot of broth, you’ll have your very own conveyer toaster surrounded by pastries, bread, eggs, veggies, sausages, salad, yoghurt and fruit.
As much as we enjoyed the Japanese Breakfast on the first 2 mornings of our stay, on our last day we wanted to try something different and we ended up really enjoying the American Breakfast too!
Seasonal Course Menu
The on-site restaurant offers a seasonal set menu for dinner which also changes daily. This can be booked any time between 5:30pm to 8:30pm for
¥20,000 (excludes GST).
The chef was also happy to customise the menu to Annie’s dietary requirements (she’s vegetarian and it’s been pretty tough looking for vegetarian food in Japan!) so we were both able to enjoy the set menu in its entirety which was a real treat.
All the ingredients were fresh and added their own texture and dimension to the dish and we absolutely loved feeling like we were at a Michelin star restaurant every night!
Salon & Bar KURA
If you’re a whisky lover, you’ll love Salon & Bar KURA where you can enjoy your very own private whiskey experience.
If alcohol isn’t for you (it wasn’t really for Annie) then you can simply sit back and enjoy the traditional Japanese complimentary welcome sweets.
Something that HOSHINO Resorts are known for is their purposeful activities that embrace the environment and help you get in touch with and revitalise your soul.
HOSHINOYA Kyoto by night
Okay so this one isn’t really an activity, but we urge you to explore the hotel grounds at night because it’s just as beautiful as it is during the day time.
Since the retreat is away from the bustle of the City, here you can clearly see the galaxy of stars that your eyes could just get lost in!
Morning Zen Meditation
From 5am to 8am daily (start time depends on the season), guests can book themselves in for a Morning Zen Meditation Class for ¥12,750 per person (excluding tax).
If you want to enjoy your own meditation, you can also do so from the Secret Garden at your own leisure.
Introduction to MONKO
In the 14th century, royalty and aristocrats would indulge in MONKO (Listening to Incense) Ceremony.
From 10:30 to 11:10am daily, guests can book in a private MONKO Introduction for ¥2,800 per person (excluding tax).
Here we learned how to use traditional tools with a very rare and high-quality agarwood to produce the deep and subtle fragrance of the incense wood.
The aromas from the wood were so enchanting and the sense of calmness really lingered with us for the rest of the day after our MONKO class.
On our last morning at HOSHINOYA Kyoto, we started our day with a Matcha Experience by the shared balcony where guests are free to enjoy their afternoon sweets and tea.
It was very interesting to learn about the exquisite tea ritual of Japan and it tasted even better than we expected. If only we could take all the matcha home with us!
In the same room as our MONKO Introduction Class is a communal games and activity room. These tatami mats are made for extra comfort as you enjoy the traditional games that have kept generations of Japanese kids and adults entertained.
We admit that there was so much to do around the retreat that we only really spent time in this room after our MONKO session ended.
Staff & Service
If it’s your first time visiting Japan, one of the first things you’ll notice of Japanese people is that they are extremely courteous, kind and will go above and beyond to help you.
The service and attention we received at HOSHINOYA Kyoto was so incredibly warm and welcoming, almost like you’re staying at a family member’s house and everyone is looking out for one another. It made our experience even more special than it already was and we can’t recommend it enough!
If you’re looking for the ultimate escape away from the bustle of the City, we recommend booking yourself in for a few days at a HOSHINO Resort – whether it be here in Kyoto or in Fuji, we guarantee you will fall in love with their retreats and will be back for more. This is the second HOSHINO Resort we’ve visited and it definitely won’t be the last!