Hotel Review: The Ritz-Carlton, Kyoto
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I recently took an around-the-world trip from NYC (with a stay at the new Park Hyatt New York) and then on to Tokyo for 62,500 AA miles and $5.60, with award seats on American’s A321 first class JFK-San Francisco (SFO) and JAL’s Boeing 777-300ER first class SFO-Tokyo Haneda (HND). I hadn’t visited Tokyo for a long time, but it took me no time at all to fall back in love with the city during my stay at the Andaz Tokyo. I was then on to the beautiful city of Kyoto and a stay at The Ritz-Carlton, Kyoto—and here’s my review.
The Ritz-Carlton, Kyoto opened in February of 2014 and filled a hole in Kyoto’s luxury hotel market. With 50 million visitors to this popular city each year, it’s likely to fill up fast—so if you’re going to book, try to do it earlier rather than later.
There are three types of rooms here: Deluxe, Deluxe Garden, and Luxury; and three types of suites: Garden, Garden Terrace, and Garden Terrace Tatami. Some of the rooms face into the courtyard, and though they try to make the views as private as possible, there’s still the chance that you’re looking into other rooms. Make sure to check the view descriptions when you’re booking.
The average room price ranges from ¥63,000/$532 US for a Deluxe City View room with one King bed to ¥268,000/$2,262 US for a top-floor suite with a private balcony and mountain view. The package rates (with daily breakfast buffet) range from ¥70,000-275,000/$591-2,321 US. At this Tier 4 property, a Rewards night is 60,000 points for a Deluxe City View room with one King bed.
My room cost ¥73,000/$617 US, and like most Asian hotel rooms, featured an extra-firm bed. I happen to like this, but I imagine it could be pretty uncomfortable if you’re not used to it—and fortunately, the 600-thread count sheets should help!
My room also had robes and slippers, an in-room coffee machine (not always a given in hotel rooms these days), and a top-of-the-line entertainment system.
With natural materials and sleek, modern features, I found my room to be really sharp. The view of the Kamogawa River and Higashiyama Mountains was fantastic—a great sight to wake up to every day.
In addition to Asprey bath products, the use of wood in the bathroom’s design made it seem like a spa, and the lighting was flattering while not being too dark. I could have lived in that bathroom.
There are four spaces to eat and/or drink at the Ritz-Carlton Kyoto. The Lobby Lounge doubles as the breakfast area, and they also serve afternoon tea and dinner here as well as a casual all-day menu. The breakfast included Western and Japanese foods in a serve-yourself setting.
My favorite was the Pierre Hermé Paris dessert shop—it was hard to pass by without giving all those treats the once-over.
The Bar opens at 5 p.m. and has an Italian-themed casual menu, signature cocktails, and a massive wine cellar. The Italian theme extends to one of two formal restaurants on the property, La Locanda. Lunch has an a la carte menu and prix fixe options, while dinner is prix fixe only.
Mizuki has a Japanese theme, with long, elegant communal tables serving sushi, tempura and kaiseki (Japanese haute cuisine that I describe in my recent post on Kyoto). There are five private rooms, including one with an open kitchen, and each will need to be reserved in advance.
The exercise room is small and features mostly treadmills, but they’re modern and do the job. The spa, on the other hand, is extensive and incorporates the wood, granite and other natural elements that you see throughout the property. It includes a narrow lap pool with day beds, sauna and steam rooms, treatment rooms, and a treatment suite; on the menu are ESPA brand facials, massages, and themed treatments for kids, couples and expectant mothers.
I had a great stay at the Ritz-Carlton Kyoto. I didn’t want to use 60,000 of my highly-valued Chase Ultimate Rewards for a one-night hotel stay, so I just paid out of pocket for my room. However, if you have 140,000 Ritz Carlton points from the sign-up bonus, this property would represent a good hotel redemption, netting you about $1,100 in value.
During my stay, I only had Marriott Silver status, which earned me some bonus points but not an upgrade. After the trip, though, I got the Ritz-Carlton Rewards Card, which gives me Ritz-Carlton Gold status and its perk of complimentary room upgrades, based on availability.
Have you stayed at the Ritz-Carlton Kyoto before? What has your experience been here?