Part of Starwood’s Luxury Collection hotels, the Suiran is an intimate 39-room property located on the banks of the Katsuma River, in western Kyoto. Formerly the private villa of a 19th-century industrialist, it is surrounded by a number of historic, cultural and natural wonders.
Around a 30-minute drive from Kyoto Station in the leafy Arashiyama district in the west of the city. There are a number of wonderful tourist sights in the area – the light-filled Arashiyama bamboo forest, the jade-green Katsuma River, and the ancient Tenryu-ji Temple – but if you want to get to the heart of Kyoto’s action, Gion, it’s going to take you at least 20 minutes by taxi or an hour on buses and trains.
Address: Ukyo-ku Saga-Tenryuji Susukinobaba-cho 12 Kyoto 616-8385, Japan.
Style & character
Basking on the banks of the Katsuma river, with crunchy pebble pathways, tufty Japanese pine trees, and tiny tinkling waterfalls, the Suiran feels like it belongs in a silk-screen painting. At its heart are two charming historic villas, built by the Kawasaki industrialist in the 19th century, which now house the restaurants, while the 39 rooms are secreted behind them in a sympathetically-designed low-rise building.
Service & facilities
This hotel may be part of the Starwood Hotels & Resorts empire but don’t expect amenities in the form of high-tech gyms, swimming pools or a sprawling spa; the Suiran’s pleasures are a lot simpler than that. Think of the Japanese concept of shibui, which refers to the peaceful effect of viewing nature in perfect harmony – stroll the banks of the river listening to the sound of rushing water, rest in the gardens serenaded by birdsong, or lie out on a two-hundred-year-old stone plinth designed for gazing at the moon.
Rooms combine the aesthetics of a traditional Japanese ryokan – tatami mat flooring, textured walls, black lacquer furniture, and cedar wood onsen (Japanese spring water baths) – with contemporary comforts – sumptuous Simmons beds, flat screen TVs, and free fast Wi-Fi. Rooms on the ground floor are charming and exceedingly private, with small but perfectly-formed gardens to lounge in, but they don’t have any views. Rooms upstairs – which have balconies instead – are a better choice if you’re in Kyoto for the cherry blossom season (March/April) or to see Arashiyama’s forest of maple trees flame red (late November).
Food & drink
The hotel’s two original structures have been painstakingly restored and transformed into chicly understated restaurants. Kyo Suiran is the more formal of the two, and serves a simple à la carte breakfast in the morning and swanky Japanese set meals throughout the rest of the day, while café Saryo Hassui’s waterside location makes it the perfect spot for sundown. Shops, restaurants and cafés in the area are only open during the day, so plan your mealtimes accordingly.
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