What kind of 5-star hotel is HOTEL THE MITSUI KYOTO, a Luxury Collection Hotel & Spa?
In late March, when the cold winter was almost over and spring was just around the corner, my husband and I took the Shinkansen from Tokyo Station around noon and arrived at Kyoto Station around 2 pm to visit the annual cherry blossom festival held at Nijo Castle. As expected, Kyoto Station was very crowded because it was the holiday season. Especially during cherry blossom season and autumn foliage season, there are more tourists than expected in Kyoto, so it is recommended to allow plenty of time for your trip. We took the Karasuma Subway Line from Kyoto Station to Karasuma Oike Station, transferred to the Tozai Subway Line, and got off at Nijojo-mae Station. The hotel is located right in front of Nijo Castle, so it is easy to find. We wanted to take a cab from Kyoto Station to the hotel, but we expected traffic jams at this time of the year, so we decided to take the trains.
To get straight to the point, HOTEL THE MITSUI KYOTO was one of the TOP 5 hotels in Kyoto where we stayed, and it was a very relaxed hotel. From the way the hotel staff always called us by name when addressing us, to the hospitality shown to guests, this was a 5-star hotel that lived up to the Mitsui name. We will have a hard time choosing a hotel when we visit Kyoto in the future.
A few minutes’ walk from Nijojo-mae Station brings you to the hotel with its majestic tiled roof and gate. The historic gate, with its white curtain fluttering in the gentle breeze, was built over 300 years ago at Sanzen-in Temple in Ohara, and was relocated when the hotel was built.
Passing through the hotel’s magnificent gate, we were impressed by the bamboo grove planted along the wall, the 13-story pagoda made of Shirakawa stone, a traditional well that draws natural hot spring water from underground, a stone lantern, a stone basin, and a Japanese garden made of moss and stones. The sound of water flowing from the bamboo tube into the stone basin and the bamboo grove swaying in the gentle breeze made our stay here all the more anticipated. The automatic door at the entrance was made from wood that was scrapped during the restoration of the gate and reused in a wood-grain style.
Entering through the automatic door, one finds a spacious reception area with a wind-themed object in the center. It was meant to bring good luck to the hotel. Going to the back, we found an open lobby lounge with high ceilings and full glass walls. The lobby lounge offered a view of the courtyard and water table. The garden was surrounded by buildings, and the Japanese garden and buildings were in beautiful harmony with each other. In the center of the garden is a large weeping cherry tree, which was just beginning to bloom when we were there, with pretty light pink buds ready to open.
In the center of the lobby lounge was a bonsai made of moss, sophisticated lantern-inspired lighting, and a large ceramic vase decorated with a dynamic cherry blossom ikebana. The high ceilings were decorated with arched wooden objects that resembled waves. All furniture was made of solid wood. Next to the lobby lounge was a library, with bookshelves lit by indirect lighting and lined with books on Kyoto’s culture and architecture. Also on display next to the library were books on the Mitsui Soryo family and other materials related to the history of the hotel.
Next to the lobby lounge, there was also a tea room. Tea rooms are basically covered with tatami mats, but this was an interesting space with a modern style of an old tea room. Modern chairs and a table made of solid walnut wood were placed in the room, and during our stay, we could experience a tea ceremony for JPY1,500. Also, the various vessels on the walls were valuable pieces made by ceramic artisans associated with the Mitsui family. Then in the corridor next to the lobby lounge was a wonderful interior design inspired by the Senbon-torii of Fushimi Inari Taisha shrine. The sunlight reflected the water basin in the courtyard on the ceiling and pillars, creating a unique space.
Proceeding to the lobby lounge, a staff member dressed in an elegant kimono guided us to a sofa by the window. We were offered Kyoto sweets, tea, and a hand towel scented with hinoki cypress. We completed check-in procedures while enjoying the view of the courtyard. When we checked in, there were many guests in the lobby lounge. It seemed that the hotel was full on that day. After a while, a staff member guided us to our room.
This time we stayed in a room on the third floor in front of Nijo Castle. We booked the room more than six months in advance because if we were going to stay at this hotel, we wanted to stay in a room with a view of Nijo Castle. Upon entering the room, we took off our shoes at the entrance and changed into the fluffy slippers provided. The room had a closet and bathroom on the right, a king bed on the left, a TV on the right wall, a comfortable sofa built of solid wood by the window, and an easy-to-use table. The bathroom was spacious and decorated for sophistication and functionality. The curtains automatically opened when we entered the room. From the large windows, we could see the East Gate of Nijo Castle across the main street.
After this, we decided to experience a tea ceremony in the tea room on the first floor. A staff member dressed in an elegant light blue kimono made the teas for us. The gorgeous handiwork performed in the stylish space was so impressive that we could not help but admire it. The sound of matcha being stirred echoed in the serene space. The rich bitter taste and aroma of matcha wafted through the air. In addition, Japanese sweets and tea utensils were adorned with the image of cherry blossoms, in keeping with the season. We had a wonderful time, which made us feel more like we had traveled to Kyoto.
We then took a pre-booked art tour. The most impressive part of the tour was the Shiki no Ma residence, a traditional sukiya-style villa located in a Japanese garden. It is currently used as an annex to a restaurant for celebrations. When we entered the building, all the interior was made of hinoki cypress, and we could smell the distinctive scent of hinoki cypress. The engawa had a window on one side, overlooking the beautiful garden. The tour takes 45 minutes, but it was enjoyable and the time passed quickly.
After the art tour, we returned to our room, made hoji tea from a lovely ceramic Japanese tea set, and ate sakura mochis prepared just in time for the cherry blossom season, while gazing at Nijo Castle and the orange-tinged sunset sky. We felt as if we were visiting Kyoto in the Edo period, 500 years ago.
As the sun set, it became darker and darker, and we began to get hungry. We decided to go out for dinner. The hotel had a teppanyaki restaurant and an Italian restaurant, but we decided to have dinner at C’est Sympa, a casual French restaurant near Nijo Castle. It is a small restaurant less than a 10-minute walk from the hotel, but it is comfortable and all the food is delicious, so it is our go-to restaurant when we are in the Nijo Castle area. Reservations are required. The dinner budget is about JPY10,000 per person.
After dinner, we went to the cherry blossom festival held every spring at Nijo Castle. At night, the cherry blossoms in Nijo Castle were lit up and projection mapping was performed on the historical buildings, creating an ethereal world different from that of the daytime. We were overwhelmed by the world view created by the dynamic images of snowstorms and cherry trees on the castle walls and the massive Karamon Gate, set to spectacular music. Although it was a colder than usual weekend, it was crowded with many tourists. The projection mapping is a method of projecting images onto a space or object using a projector and giving various visual effects to the superimposed images.
Returning to our room, we looked out the window to see Nijo Castle lit up. We took out a bottle of sake from the mini-bar and sat on the sofa by the window, sipping it and admiring Nijo Castle for a while. After enjoying the fleeting yet beautiful cherry blossoms of Nijo Castle, it was wonderful to enjoy the sake in the warmth of the room with a view of Nijo Castle lit up in front of us.
Waking up around 6:30 the next morning, we decided to take a walk around Nijo Castle before breakfast. Around Nijo Castle, we saw people running early in the morning and local residents walking their dogs.
We returned to the hotel and had breakfast at a restaurant called FORNI on the ground floor. It was a crisp spring morning, so we decided to eat on the terrace with a view of the Japanese garden. The menu offered a choice of American breakfast, continental breakfast, healthy breakfast, and Japanese breakfast. There was no buffet menu. We chose the American breakfast. We especially enjoyed the eggs benedict with gratin and the freshly baked croissants and danishes.
After breakfast we decided to go to a communal onsen called Thermal Spring, located on the basement level. It was not a typical Japanese onsen style, but a shared indoor hot spring bath for men and women. Swimsuits can be rented free of charge. As we got off the elevator and proceeded down the hallway, we found ourselves at the entrance to another world, surrounded by a mystical ambience. It was like a cave, with the soothing sound of water cascading down between the huge rocks brought in from Kagawa Prefecture. Soaking quietly in the lukewarm water in the dark, surrounded by rocks with the faint sound of dripping water, we felt as if we were deep in the earth. The TV in the room allowed us to check the crowds at the hot springs, gym, restaurant, etc.
After enjoying the thermal spring, we returned to our room, made coffee in the coffee machine for a while, and relaxed while looking at the blue sky and Nijo Castle. We checked out before noon and decided to visit Nijo Castle again. Nijo Castle has a different atmosphere at night, and we thought it was one of the World Heritage sites worth visiting again and again. After this, we took the Shinkansen from Kyoto Station around 3:00 p.m. and arrived at Tokyo Station in the evening.
This time, it was just my husband and I staying at the hotel, but it is also a great hotel for children. To make the stay more enjoyable for the kids, they have a program called the Art Rally. You find the artwork on the map and collect the stamps to get cookies. Next time, we would like to bring our children as well.
Then, the only rooms with private onsens are suites. Also, there are two private family onsens on the first basement floor, which can be used for a fee. Reservations are required to be made in advance. We did not use them this time.
If I dare to raise a fault, it is the location of the hotel. The location in front of Nijo Castle is excellent, but the area surrounding the hotel has the feel of downtown Kyoto that can be found anywhere. Compared to the characteristic Kyoto atmosphere and sophistication of the Higashiyama area, Kyoto connoisseurs may feel something is missing. Nevertheless, there are many restaurants, cafes, and stores scattered throughout the area, and the proximity to Nijojo-mae Station made it convenient to get around by train. If, like us, you are staying for the view of Nijo Castle, the onsen, or the cherry blossom festival, this is a great luxury hotel.
Check Availability and Pricing for the ryokan on Agoda or Trip.com
TOP5 Best Hotels and Ryokans in the Higashiyama Area
TOP5 Best Hotels and Ryokans with Private Onsen in Kyoto
TOP5 Best 5-Star Luxury Hotels and Ryokans in Kyoto
Is the location easy to access?
It’s about a 5-minute walk from Exit 2 of Nijojo-mae Station on the Tozai Subway Line. Exit 2 is stairs only, so if you have large baggage, we would recommend using Exit 1, which has escalators and elevators.
If you take a taxi from Kyoto Station, it takes 15min and costs around JPY2,000.
Where is the best accommodation for anniversaries in Kyoto?
If you are looking for a good place for a special occasion in Kyoto, the property is one of the best. The staff arranges flowers and cakes to celebrate an anniversary at additional charges if you request in advance.
TOP5 Best Romantic Hotels and Ryokans in Kyoto
Rooms I would recommend?
If you are going to stay here, I would recommend a room with a Nijo castle view.
How about toiletries & in-room amenities?
All of the amenities are taken care of including enough toiletries, pajamas, bathrobes, TWG tea bags, bottled water, a coffee machine with capsules, an umbrella, and a Japanese tea set. Also, you can complimentary request skincare products. There are many types of pillows to choose from. Turn-down service is available. A BOSE speaker was placed. Room service is available for 24H. There is a convenience store nearby. The free WiFi reception was excellent.
Then this hotel is child friendly. If you need amenities for children, you can request them at the time of reservation. Cribs are available for borrowing. One child up to 12 years old per adult sleeps with you free of charge.
How about In-house Facilities?
There is an amazing indoor communal onsen on B1 called Thermal Spring. It is not a typical Japanese communal onsen. You need to wear a swimming wear in order to enter the onsen. Swimsuits are available for borrowing, but you can also bring your own. *If you have tattoos, you may not be permitted to use Thermal Spring.
Then there are two private family onsens on B1. You need to book them in advance. If you have tattoos, you may want to use the private onsens.
There is a gym with all the latest machines on B1. Swimwear, sportswear, shoes, t-shirts, etc, are available for free. The gym has a minimum age requirement of 16 applies.
Then there is a great spa treatment shop on B1. You need to make an appointment in advance if you have a spa treatment service.
Termal Spring, the spa treatment shop, the gym, the gift shop on B1 are open between 7:00 and 23:00.
Then the hotel is a perfect universal design. Wheelchairs are available for borrowing. If you bring someone with weak legs, you may want to inform the staff in advance as they arrange a room near the lift.
Then you can take a complimentary art tour of the hotel. For more information, please click here.
Have a nice trip! Welcome to receive any questions about the property from the below space. Check Availability and Pricing for the ryokan on Agoda or Trip.com
Info about HOTEL THE MITSUI KYOTO, a Luxury Collection Hotel & Spa
|Style||5-star Luxury Hotel
|Check-in and out times
|Estimated Price||100,000 JPY for 2 adults per room|
||Fill in the form|
|Internet Connection||Free wifi in the ryokan|
|Facility information||Wheelchairs are available
Pets are not allowed
The parking lot is available at JPY4,000 per day
The valet service is available
|Location||HOTEL THE MITSUI KYOTO, a Luxury Collection Hotel & Spa’s MAP|
|Access||15min by taxi from Kyoto Station
|Address and TEL||Tel|
|Official Homepage||HOTEL THE MITSUI KYOTO, a Luxury Collection Hotel & Spa’s HP|
*All information above is as of the date that I posted on my blog.
Still not sure where to stay in Kyoto?
Browse through my TOP5 Ranking Lists of all the best places to stay in Kyoto.
Alternatively, you could leave a message at the below space for advice.