The Four Seasons in Kyoto manages to effortlessly infiltrate the ancient neighbourhood that surrounds it. Seemingly part of the historical scenery, helped in no small part by its central feature: Shakusuien, an 800-year old ikeniwa pond garden, full of koi carp and shaded by trees – an island of temple-like tranquillity for the enjoyment of the resident guests. The hotel is a perfect marriage of Japanese understated beauty and service, and the luxurious touches you would expect from an established brand of high-end hospitality like the Four Seasons.
Naturally, all rooms enjoy ample space, high-spec amenities, and generously sized beds. These are decorated – quite obviously – with select snippets of Japan’s own four seasons; touches of sakura cherry-blossoms, or koyo autumn leaves. Added to this, splashes of vivid mauve and royal purple, or vernal greens the shade of matcha tea, give character to an otherwise neutral and unassuming colour palette. Aim to get a room or suite with garden views, so that you can savour the aesthetics of the outside world along with the lush interiors.
The hotel spa is a genuine highlight – perfect if you need to revivify after a long day of visiting the temples. It’s a 25-minute uphill slog to the famous Kiyomizudera, but we highly recommend the journey on foot to truly appreciate the destination – and to earn that relaxation at the end of the day. With some great dining experiences available both here and around Kyoto, it’s difficult to go wrong – but try your best to get a seat at the counter of Michelin-starred Sushi Wakon – even if you have to rush back from sightseeing to have it as lunch!