As you’ve no doubt heard, Japan is set to finally lift its pandemic border restrictions, allowing fully-vaccinated, independent travellers from select countries, including Australia, as of October 11.
Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida made the announcement at the New York Stock Exchange on September 22, saying that, pre-pandemic, the country had flourished when people, goods and capital had been able to flow freely.
“COVID-19, of course, interrupted all of these benefits, but from October 11, Japan will relax border control measures to be on par with the US, as well as resume visa-free travel and individual travel,” Kishida said.
If you’re among the many now planning a trip there, specifically to Kyoto, you probably want to know where’s new to stay. Fortunately for you, we’ve done the research. From several buildings scattered around the city that make up one hotel, to a big-name brand hotel taking over a historic post office, we’ve rounded up the best new hotels to open in Kyoto since you’ve been away.
Ace Hotel Kyoto
Acclaimed architect Kengo Kuma’s lattice-covered Ace Hotel Kyoto is a bold new addition to Kyoto’s hotel scene, where luxury has traditionally been equated with more low-key minimalism. On centre stage is Kuma’s renovation of a 1926 monolith of brickwork, high ceilings and arched windows, formerly home to Kyoto Central Telephone Office.
Maana Kiyomizu offers a unique alternative to a conventional hotel. The complex comprises three suites, a retail shop, and a café within a row of refurbished machiya townhouses. The light-filled suites come with tea sets, paper lanterns, and textiles from POJ Studio, a collective of artisans crafting modern pieces using traditional techniques. One of the suites even has a bathtub overlooking Toyokuni Shrine.
Hotel VMG Resort Kyoto
The Hotel VMG Resort Kyoto is not a hotel in the traditional sense; instead, it’s several historical buildings scattered across the Kiyamachi, Higashiyama and Okazaki areas of eastern Kyoto. After checking in at a reception building, guests head to their private residence. The accommodations are spacious, with an average area of 60 sq meters and all feature private Japanese-style baths. Dinner is served in a historical five-story wooden inn overlooking the Kamo River while breakfast is on the grounds of the famous Heian-jingu Shrine, built in 1895 to mark Kyoto’s 1,100th anniversary.
Hotel the Mitsui
The elegant Hotel the Mitsui is a 161-room property built on the grounds of the Mitsui family’s centuries-old former residence opposite Nijo Castle. The hotel occupies a site that was once the residence of the aristocratic Mitsui family. The family’s 300-year-old Kajiimiya Gate has been repaired and conserved to provide a regal welcome to all hotel guests.
Hilton Roku Kyoto
The Hilton Roku Kyoto, the first Hilton LXR Hotels & Resorts property in Asia, opened in September 2021. Nestled deep within the foothills of the ancient capital’s northwestern mountain range, Roku Kyoto is a luxury escape in Japan’s most historically and culturally revered cities.
Affordable luxury is hard to come by if you’re exploring a destination as popular as Kyoto, but this impressive four-star hotel manages it. But it’s also got more to offer than its reasonable room rates. Built around the former Ban family residence, Karasuma Rokkaku’s authentic machiya (traditional townhouse) structure is a prime example of traditional Kyoto architecture.