The same traditions reverently observed across centuries – from meticulous gardens to therapeutic baths – that have made Kyoto a bottomless well of cultural pursuits are also what make it an ideal destination for luxurious and stylish self-care. Here’s a sampling of how to soak up all the wellness possibilities the city has to offer.
Go on an invigorating cycle around town with The Ritz-Carlton, Kyoto
Few things are as restorative as a getaway to a beautiful city and in picturesque Kyoto, with its broad and leafy main avenues and car-free riverside lanes, the best way to get around is to do as the locals do and hop on a bicycle. Exploring the city on two wheels gives visitors time to appreciate the interesting cityscape of modern, low-rise buildings and enclaves of postcard-pretty machiya, or traditional wooden townhouses. At the same time, cycling also allows guests to cover considerable ground within the sprawl that extends from the mountains down to the vast Kansai plains.
Additionally, the endless health benefits of pedaling, combined with stops at the city’s historic and spiritual enclaves, are what make The Ritz-Carlton’s cycling tours especially appealing. The Ritz-Carlton, a chic, low-lying sprawl along the Kamo River, enjoys one of the most strategic and central locations for a hotel around the city. The cycle tour follows a carefully considered route that takes guests around some of Kyoto’s most photographed landmarks, including Fushimi Inari, known for its iconic, bright-orange torii, or the traditional Japanese gate found at Shinto shrines, numbering in the thousands. The tour is led by a team from The Ritz-Carlton, Kyoto, who then enhance the experience by providing local insights into the historic sites along the route.
Indulge in a relaxing green tea scrub at Suiran, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Kyoto
Set along the banks of the scenic Hozu River, Suiran is a timelessly elegant resort with 39 guestrooms and magnificent gardens that feature the old practice of shakkei, or “the principle of incorporating background landscape into composition”, a concept that originated in China. Leisurely, mind-clearing walks around the property offer breathtaking views of tranquil stone-and-bamboo gardens that foreground the stunning Arashiyama mountains. In terms of memorably striking scenery, the Arashiyama region features some of the best in all of Japan.
The local and the traditional take centerstage at Suiran, from tatami-laid specialty suites to open-air baths that use healing waters from the Arashiyama hot springs, all the way to its signature spa treatments based on indigenous ingredients. The Sansui Signature Treatment, for instance, is a deeply relaxing course that begins with a luxurious foot scrub using green tea powder, chosen for its potent natural antioxidants that rejuvenates the skin. A green tea foot scrub is also soothes tired and tight muscles, especially around the calves, that makes the treatment perfect after a day of hiking or cycling. The scrub is then followed by a foot bath using organic soap, and the treatment journey ends in a half-body massage using aromatic oils.
Sink into a blissful hinoki bath at the Hyatt Regency Kyoto
In the global design world, the minimalist and considered Japanese aesthetic is often represented by the fragrant, fine-grain blond wood derived from hinoki, or Japanese cypress. But this versatile wood is likewise known for a variety of health benefits. It emits a scent that’s said to improve blood circulation and enhance one’s mood.
At the 187-room Hyatt Regency Kyoto in the Higashiyama Shichigo district, with its tonesetting serene bamboo garden, the Riraku Spa offers a menu of customized treatments that celebrate the Kansai region’s bountiful natural endowments — including an abundance of hinoki — resulting in a spa program unique to the area. The spa’s Kousoyuku (therapeutic dry bath in fermented hinoki powder), for instance, uses aromatic floral extracts along with powder derived from 100% natural Yoshino Hinoki. These special hinoki trees that thrive in the mountains of Yoshino, in nearby southern Nara, are free of impurities and widely considered among the finest quality hinoki in the country. The hotel, designed by esteemed Japanese interior design firm Super Potato, the same firm behind several of the brand’s hotels around Asia, exudes a certain chic subtlety that forms part its overall calming and rejuvenating effect. The property also features a meticulously pruned Japanese garden, with a waterfall and a pond, that dates back to around 1150 AD.
This elegant five-star hotel on the banks of the Kamo River is one of the most ideally located accommodations in the city — it’s a short stroll from dining districts such Pontocho and Gion, as well as from the city’s downtown points of interest. The hotel has 134 modern guestrooms, all design with a chic, minimalist aesthetic.
Address: Kamogawa Nijo-Ohashi Hotori, Nakagyo-ku Kyoto, 604-0902 Japan
This luxury retreat along the Hozu River is an intimate affair — it has only 39 guestrooms, including six specialty suites. The property’s meticulous Japanese gardens that offer dramatic views of the mountains make them ideal for meditative early morning walks.
Address: 12 Susukinobaba-cho, Saga-Tenryuji, Ukyo-ku, Kyoto, Japan
This centrally located hotel is a sophisticated spread marked by a lush but serene bamboo grove at its entrance and Zen gardens within its grounds. All 187 stylish guestrooms exude a timeless sophistication.
Formed in 2016, the Japan Luxury Travel Alliance (JLTA) is a group of several Japanese localities, each offering unique and inspired experiences in luxury travel. The members of the alliance are: Kyoto, one of Japan’s leading historical and cultural destinations; the city of Sapporo, renowned for its fine, powder-like snow; Ishikawa Prefecture, where the fascinating samurai culture endures to this day; and Wakayama Prefecture, home of Mt Koya and the spiritual trail known as the Kumado Kodo. The group’s objectives are to collaborate on delivering consistently high quality travel experiences and to promote Japan as an ideal destination for luxury travelers from around the world. The Ultimate Indulgences Expeditions Series is a project with curated content by luxury travel specialists members of Japan Luxury Travel Alliance project.
For Inquiries Contact Kyoto City Tourism Association