From its humble exterior, it’s difficult to imagine the luxury that lies within The Celestine, and this is part of its charm. Entering the hotel on a mezzanine level, a vast but tranquil entrance hall awaits you – a lobby with high ceilings, looking out upon a courtyard garden with light spilling in through the trees. As you go through the usual check in formalities – sat comfortably with a cup of tea in hand – it is refreshingly nice to get the personal touch rather than a business-like transaction. With the hotel being on the southern edge of the Gion neighbourhood – across from the Kenninji Temple – you are in a prime position to begin the exploration of Kyoto’s atmospheric and ancient streets.
Guestrooms are elegant, attired in neutral colours and simple furnishings, and every effort is made to create a comfortable and inviting place to sleep. The suites offer incredible mountain views, a selection of the best green teas available, gigantic bathrooms and complimentary minibars – but beds are twin configuration only (as Japan is slow to adopt the Western custom of sleeping in a king or double). Luckily the standard rooms (twin or double options) are of a decent size, have a Handy smart phone to utilise during your stay, and even includes a complimentary furoshiki – decorative cloths used to wrap gifts – to take with you as a souvenir.
The Endo restaurant serves up a delicious breakfast, and a glorious tempura-heavy evening meal that you should certainly aim to try one night. The lounge can get quite busy in the afternoon – especially with recently checked-out guests making the most of the refreshments – but it is a far less hectic bar come evening time. A large public bath is also open until the early hours – a great way to de-stress and kick back after a long day.