Ritz-Carlton, Kyoto Review: Deserving of Its Reputation

Ritz-Carlton, Kyoto

Elite Recognition


The Ritz-Carlton, Kyoto is the crown jewel of our hotel hopping during our Japan Golden Route trip bookended by some of the best flights in the world.

This property was highly recommended to me by many friends that have travelled to Japan in the past. I was very much looking forward to experiencing what many deem to be one of the best Ritz-Carlton’s in the world.

Living room and bed with a large chaise lounge looking outwards to the balcony and the dining table with 2 chairs.

Notably, we’ll be spending 5 nights with a bountiful breakfast every morning, and we’ll be trying Tempura Mizuki which was recently awarded a Michelin star.


Needless to say, a hotel of this caliber doesn’t come cheap, whether you’re booking on cash or points. For our stay, we parted with 430,000 Marriott Bonvoy points for a 5 night stay. We’ve been accruing for over 2 years to make this aspirational booking. The cash rates for our stay were north of ~$2,000+ (CAD) (~$1,500+ USD) mark.

You can expect cash rates to range from ~¥160,000–300,000 (~$1,500–3,000 CAD) or (~$1,000–2,000 USD) per night for a base level room. Due to dynamic pricing, point costs range from ~90,000–130,000 Bonvoy Points per night for a base level room.


The hotel is closest to Sanjo or Shiyakusho-mae station subway stations, both of which are just a brisk ~7 minute walk away. This is how we arrived from Kyoto station, we took the Karasuma Line and transferred onto the Tozai Line and exited just a few hundred metres from the hotel’s nondescript entrance. By train, it took just under 20 minutes to get from the bustling Kyoto station.

You could also elect to take the bus, it takes a little longer but it shortens the walks slightly.

If you’re looking to drive or ride share, it’ll be about a 15 minute transfer depending on the traffic pattern.

If you’re coming from Kansai International Airport (KIX) near Osaka, it’ll take about 2 hours and 20 minutes to get to the Ritz-Carlton by public transit or 1 hour 40 minutes by car.

The Ritz-Carlton, Kyoto is very centrally located, just 20 minutes north of the populous Nishiki Market by walk. The surrounding area of the hotel is very serene for how much of tourist hotspot Kyoto has become. It’s nestled against the west bank of the Kamogawa River, and it’s a fantastic place to wander aimlessly after a meal.

In terms of attractions, the closest would be the Kyoto Imperial Palace, it’s just a 15 minute walk north of the hotel.

Another popular tourist attraction is Nijo Castle, it’s between 15–20 minutes away by public transit or under 10 minutes by car. You could also walk, but that takes around 35 minutes.

Kiyomizu-Dera is 35 minutes away by bus, or 15 minutes away by car, it’s not too far distance wise but there aren’t amazing transit options to get there, so keep that in mind.

Luckily, the ever-popular Fushimi Inari shrine is much easier to get to, it’s a quick 20 minute ride away with the Keihan Main line that leaves from Sanjo station.

There’s too many attractions in Kyoto for me to go through all of them; otherwise, this section will be never-ending. I would argue that the Ritz-Carlton, Kyoto is in a great location, it’s close to the most poplar area of Kyoto with lots of shopping and food to indulge in, while being down a quiet street next to the river so guests can enjoy the peace and quiet if they wish.

Being situated on the west side of the Kyoto, there are two attractions that you’ll have difficulties getting to: Kinkaku-ji and the Arashiyama Bamboo Forest.

The golden temple is 40 minutes away by public transit or 20 minutes by car and Arashiyama is another 10 minutes away.

Initial Impressions

As we emerged from the subway station, I was beaming with excitement to finally see this world-renowned property. Since I’ve read and watched as many reviews as I could, I recognized the building from afar and it personally struck me as a grand place – contrasting with the buildings beside it. The side facing the Kamogawa River is quite a bit more impressive with the full length of the property on display with each guest room exhibiting an oversized window. The colours are quite understated yet modern, and doesn’t shout luxury hotel!

The outside facade of the Ritz-Carlton Kyoto facing the Kamogawa River.

I can definitely imagine travellers taken off guard with the understated grey tones that covered the outside of the Ritz-Carlton, Kyoto. Moreover, since the hotel is elongated north to south, and the entrance is along the east-west Nijo Dori street, the entrance is quite small. All you see is a garage, and some large windows above you.

As we walked into the garage, the bellwoman quickly helped us with our bags and arranged them to be delivered straight to our room as we competed our check-in formalities.

Going past the garage, you’re greeted with more tones of grey in the stone walkway, walls, awning, and water feature. It contrasted beautifully as you turn the corner and get an eyeful of lusciously green and vibrant foliage. A lot of these were maples and I could see hints of red on them during late October, give them a month and this entrance will be emblazoned with striking reds.

Entrance pathway of the Ritz-Carlton Kyoto with maple trees that are slightly turning red.

Once you make your way inside the entrance, you’re greeted with the concierge desk to the left, and a long hallway that seemingly doesn’t go anywhere on the right. If you keep walking down the hallway, a discreet automatic door will open, bringing you inside the main floor of the hotel.

Automatic doors of Ritz-Carlton Kyoto entrance during dusk with lights lighting up the pathway.

The main lobby can be essentially divided into 6 parts:

  • The entrance
  • The lounge
  • PIERRE HERMÉ PARIS patisserie boutique
  • Front desk
  • Elevators
  • La Locanda restaurant

After walking through the discreet door, immediately on your right is a beautiful bonsai tree and to the left of that is The Lobby Lounge.

Large bonsai tree under lights.

Past The Lobby Lounge, at the very end of the hallway, you’ll find La Locanda – this is where we had our breakfast every morning.

Entrance to La Locanda restaurant with it's doors closed

The middle of the main floor is open as there are stairs that take you down to more restaurants and private event venues. To say that the main lobby felt grand, would be an understatement. It was very impressive with a ginormous chandelier in the middle and the moody lighting only added to the drama.

Large chandelier overhanging the Ritz-Carlton, Kyoto lobby with warm mood lighting.

To the left is the PIERRE HERMÉ PARIS shop, past that is the front desk, and at the very end is the elevators that will take you to your room.

Since we were checking in, our associate met us at the concierge desk and led us to La Locanda to check-in. She brought us some locally made yatsuhashi 八ツ橋 (thin rice flour cookie) which is a famous Kyoto treat, hojicha, and a warm scented towel.

Yatsuhashi, hojicha, and warm towel on granite table.

Prior to arriving, I made it clear how excited we were to be in Japan and to be staying at such an amazing property, hoping that they could extend us an upgrade. While I didn’t expect a suite upgrade since this property was so popular and highly esteemed – on this end I stand corrected. However, she was able to extend us an upgrade to the Grand Deluxe Kamogawa River view room, as opposed to the base level Deluxe room.

Considering that we were staying here for five nights and we were lowly Marriott Bonvoy Platinum members, this really kicked off the entire stay on a high note. It’s worth noting that this room type is just below a suite, so I was very grateful.

She then made sure we were aware of the most unique benefit of this Ritz-Carlton – breakfast is included for Marriott Platinum members! This isn’t the case at most other Ritz-Carltons, and is one of the reasons that this hotel gets such rave reviews.

Moreover, she then confirmed our concierge requests that we made prior to arriving. Securing a reservation at Hyotei, our first Michelin 3-star dining experience, and a spot at Mizuki, the hotel’s 1 Michelin star tempura restaurant. Lastly, she informed us of all the range of amenities that the hotel offers such as complimentary bike rides, to cooking workshops.

As I’ll come to realize, Pink, our check-in associate and the person that established our initial impressions of the hotel, continues to exceed expectations throughout the length of our stay. While I know that upgrades aren’t completely up to the associates, she was extremely welcoming, bubbly, and seemed like she actually cared to converse while completing the formalities.

In addition to her amazing attitude, she spoke amazing English. I’m not sure if every English-speaking guest will be assigned someone with great English abilities but this was a very welcome surprise.

After being surprise and delighted, we took the elevators up to floor 2, to room 232.

Once you exit the elevators, you’re greeted with neutral clean tones with greys and beiges. The lighting is a mix of harsh light from the ceiling and soft light from in-between the gaps in the wall. The hallways are feature the same colours and are a little dim, with pretty harsh lighting.

Long hotel hallway with beige walls and some light fixtures on the side.

While I’m not a huge fan of this design, I think it enhanced the feel of the room when you opened the door – giving guests an awe factor.

Grand Deluxe Kamogawa River View Room

The Grand Deluxe Kamogawa River View room is 560 square feet in size and as the name suggests features a panoramic floor-to-ceiling window that faces the beautiful Kamogawa River.

Stepping in from the door, the room is split initially split into two, on the left is a small hallway that has the mini bar, coffee machine, and a Japanese tea set.

Long hall with a mini bar on the right that has coffee machine, water, ice bucket, and water kettle.

On the right is the closet and washroom. The closet was very large with lots of space and hangers for any of your garments and it had space to store any luggage to keep them out of the way. Moreover, the room came with a set of bathrobes and yukatas. The bathrobes are soft and fluffy as expected and are a great way to get cozy when you wind down for the day while, the yukatas are airy and light

Bathroom with two vanities, bathrobes leading into the bedroom.

The washroom features a double vanity, and large shower suite equipped with rainfall shower head, and a large tub to soak in. In-between the mirrors is a TV which you can put something on when you’re getting ready or enjoying a relaxed soak in the tub. I love the fact that the drainage for all the water is built into the slats between the wood planks, it’s super seamless.

Bathroom with large soaking tub, shower wand, and waterfall showerhead.

Naturally, the hotel uses fantastic Diptyque amenities. Moreover, each room also got a special locally made soap inlayed with gold flake. It’s worth noting that the Diptyque amenities are all in large bottles which are not allowed to be taken, they quoted that it was to reduce waste.

Hand and body lotion bottle from the Philosykos collection by Diptyque.

Coming this far, you may think that the toilet is missing. The toilet is separated from the rest of the washroom, and it’s actually behind the full length mirror so no one has to see it. Talk about good design! It’s important to note that the washroom and rest of the room may seem to be connected without a door; however, you’re able to slide a door to cover the washroom area, giving the living area a more undisturbed look.

Japanese bidet toilet in separate room.

Walking past the entry area, there was an elongated sofa on the left, and perhaps the largest bed that I’ve ever seen on the right.

Living room and bed with a large chaise lounge looking outwards to the balcony and the dining table with 2 chairs.

It can comfortably sleep 3 with plenty of room to spare! Beside each bed side is a circular ambient light, reading light, and bedside table that housed various electronic controls for the electronic blinds and lights.

Electronic blind, curtain, and light controls on a black bedside table.

Past the bed and sofa is a large circular table and two chairs where you can enjoy tea and in-room dining. The table is spacious enough to comfortable seat two, and you can also use it to get some work done if you need to.

Grand Deluxe River View room at Ritz Carlton Kyoto overlooking Kamagawa river.

When we checked-in, there was another set of yatsuhashi sweets, and two types of fancy Japanese grapes awaiting us. Along with a welcome note, some origami, and post cards. Next to the table is a 3 column-ed shelf for you to place items on. Its centrepiece was a small bonsai tree, and had discreet power outlets along the centre column.

The green grapes are shine muscat grapes, one of the most sought-after and expensive grape varieties in the world. The red ones are Kyoho grapes, which are even more pricy! I preferred the shine muscat grapes, but Kevin liked the red Kyoho grapes more.

Circular table with origami, grapes, welcome note, box of sweets, and plates ontop. In front of a shelf with a bonsai tree ontop.

The TV is mounted on the wall, just behind one of the chairs, and is able to swivel. Even then, it’s still at a large off-angle so it doesn’t make watching TV in bed that comfortable.

Beside the table and chairs is a floor to ceiling panoramic window that faces the east side of the Kamogawa River bank. Our room also came with a balcony that you can access via a sliding door from the right. The balcony had two chairs and a small coffee table if you wanted to enjoy some fresh air.

View outside from the balcony with blue sky and clouds and trees covering the Kamogawa River.

It’s worth noting that there are some trees covering a significant amount of the view which isn’t great; however, its to also stop people walking the banks of the Kamogawa River to be able to see into your room.

The entire room is beautifully decorated with soft tones of wood colours and warm lighting. Additionally, the flower motifs on the carpet and sofa cushions and bonsai tree made it feel very serene and peaceful.

Looking back inside the room with a large bed, chaise lounge, and bathroom.

The oversized window lets in plenty of natural light, making it a great room whether you’re here to relax, go see the sights, or get some work done. Compared to other Ritz-Carltons, it may not be the most grandiose or flashy, but I really enjoyed the soft yet luxurious design that exuded from the room.


One of the most unique and distinguishing features that sets this Ritz-Carlton property from others is the fact that it offers complimentary breakfast to Marriott Bonvoy Platinum members and higher. Indeed, Ritz-Carlton properties are excluded from having to do that; nevertheless, this hotel goes above and beyond to offer this valuable perk to its guests.

Circular booth seating inside La Locanda restaurant with two dining placemats.

Breakfast is served in La Locanda, the Italian restaurant on the main floor of the hotel. Unlike other hotels, the breakfast service is mostly à la carte, except for a few croissants, pastries, and bottles of diary which you can self-serve.

Guests can choose between the Japanese or Western breakfast. If you choose the Japanese breakfast, it’s a set menu, whereas if you choose the Western menu you have a few mains that you can choose from:

  • PIERRE HERMÉ PARIS French toast
  • Eggs benedict
  • Scrambled eggs
  • Egg omelette
American breakfast menu with appetizer set, main dishes, and egg options.

The Japanese menu started with an appetizer of simmered tofu and led into the main breakfast set which included:

  • Grilled fish of the day
  • Japanese omlette
  • Simmered beef and vegetables
  • Vegetable dish of the day
  • Japanese pickles
  • Fresh fruits
  • Miso soup
  • Rice or rice porridge
Japanese breakfast menu with Appetizer of tofu, and Ozen set menu.

The Japanese menu was delicious and a fantastic way to start the morning with a healthy yet relatively light meal. Everything tasted super fresh and flavourful. I especially enjoyed the simmered bean curd which was delicately soft. The presentation was also quite strong and the Japanese style omelette was pillowy with hints of sweetness contrasted with the mild and tangy daikon radish.

The Japanese set meal came with a lot more food than the Western breakfast options! I looked forward to the fruit bowl every day because everything in it was consistently fresh, sweet, and perfectly ripe. Not to mention, those grapes in the photo are super expensive—they’re the same two varieties that we had previously when we checked into the room. The fresh bean curd topped with wasabi was very interesting. The bean curd itself was plain and had very little flavour, but it paired well with the dashi broth and wasabi. Another highlight was the candied ginkgo nuts. One of the disappointments was the tamagoyaki. I was pretty excited because it was a big satisfying chunk of tamago, but it came with a big dollop of grated daikon on top, which ruined it for me.

Japanese set menu box with 6 squares featuring fruits, egg, pickles, grilled fish, tofu, and congee bowl.

The Western breakfast starts with an appetizer set consisting of fresh fruit, Hokkaido Camembert Cheese and Mimolette Cheese, cold cut meats, Kyoto local espuma and vegetable salad, and fresh yogurt and jam.

Western breakfast appetizer set with fruit, yogurt, cold cuts, cheese, and vegetables.

Then you’ll be served your selected main of choice. After both trying the Japanese breakfast on the first morning, I selected the PIERRE HERMÉ PARIS French toast on a whim to try and I never went without multiple orders of this dish for the rest of the stay.

French toast with cream and maple syrup. Bowl of fruit in background.

It was undoubtedly the best French toast that I’ve ever had. It had a thin layer of crispiness on the outside and a cloud like texture in the middle while retaining its structure and open crumb.

French toast with cream and maple syrup.

Paired with fresh cream and real maple syrup, it was heavenly. The maple syrup had the perfect consistency of being silky and not viscous while adding that iconic hit of maple. I ordered the French toast everyday, multiple times a day.

Unfortunately, due to how blown away I was with the French toast, I didn’t get to sample many of the egg-based dishes. I ordered the Eggs Benedict with Ham and Spinach one day and it was remarkable. The egg was perfectly cooked and came wrapped in its own little soft shell, it had a great flavour that paired perfectly with the ham, spinach, and bun. The egg was oh so gooey and delicious.

Eggs Benedict with gooey yolk leaking out of the egg and sausage, bacon, and hashbrowns in background.

I also had to try their bacon, sausage, and hash browns, which were all pretty good. I would have liked to see the hash browns more crispy on the outside and more fluffy on the inside, it felt a little too dense and solid in the mouth.

It’s important to know that when you eat breakfast in the La Locanda, you’re allowed to order as many things as you would like. We didn’t try to push this limit too far; but we did order whatever we wanted to try and had space for.

On the self-serve options, there was a nice display of croissants on offer. There was a chestnut-pear flavour, rose-raspberry flavour, plain, and pain au chocolat. Along with the pastries, guests are able to self-serve their diary options which had milk, soy milk, oat milk, and almond milk.

Self-serve buffet area with three different trays of croissants and pastries.

The croissants were another highlight of the breakfast experience. We highly recommend the Ispahan croissant. It was a flavour combination that I haven’t tried before but it works extremely well together.

The Ispahan croissant is a PIERRE HERMÉ exclusive flavour. It consists of a rose, raspberry, and lychee flavoured filling stuffed inside a croissant drizzled with a thin layer of icing and sprinkled with candied rose petals. I ate one almost every single day, it was so good!

Close up shots of the croissants and pain au chocolats on offer.

The pain au chocolat was also great but it’s a pretty common pastry that can be found at most breakfast offerings these days.

I tried the Yuge farm non-homogenized milk and it was quite yummy. Due to the fact that it hasn’t been homogenized, there was a thick layer of rich creamy goodness on the top. The milk had a subtle sweetness and it was super creamy.

2 glass jars of milk from Yuge farm.

The alternative milks were highly rated by Kelly as she tried all 3 varieties.

I tried each of the soy, almond, and oat milks. Be warned, all of the alternative milks are “Western” style (think Silk or Oatly) so if you are hoping for the traditional taste of Asian soy milk you’ll be disappointed. But I loved all three milk flavours. My favourite was the oat milk. It was really sweet and creamy.


For the majority of our stay, we went down to La Locanda for breakfast; however, on one day we decided to try the in-room breakfast option. We ordered off the breakfast card, hung it outside our door at night and in the morning a member of staff wheeled in a big cart fully loaded with all of the items we wanted to try.

Circular dining table filled with plates of breakfast items with french toast, eggs, cereal, tea, bacon, eggs, sausages, coffee, tea, and a toaster on the shelf.

The options were the same as if you went to the restaurant and they tasted the same. It was more for the experience than anything. However, there is one key detail that you need to know prior to doing this. In-room breakfast is complimentary and included, only IF you order 1 main dish. We thought it functioned the same way as in La Locanda and we even messaged through the Marriott Bonvoy app the previous day to confirm that in-room breakfast was included.

Luckily for us, the hotel didn’t charge us extra for the items that we ordered due to the confusion. While we’re very appreciative of that gesture, it’s clear that this wasn’t supposed to happen.

All in all, the breakfast experience at the Ritz-Carlton, Kyoto was amazing. The fact that they offer it to Platinum members in the first place when they aren’t required to is already a huge win. My only gripes with the breakfast experience are twofold.

First off, I would have liked to see the menu option changed day to day, or even every other day. This isn’t as big of a problem with the Western breakfast because you’re able to mix and match things as you wish. However, the Japanese menu is set and during the entire length of our stay, it stayed the same. Moreover, on the Western menu side, I would have liked to see the same change in variety when it came to the appetizer, it stayed the exact same for the entire length of my stay. I can’t imagine this to be as big of a problem if you’re only staying a few nights but since we were staying 5 nights, it eventually got pretty repetitive.

Secondly, the service at breakfast was good but not great. There were times when a request for tea was forgotten and I had given up on waiting for it and just left. There were times when we had to make a request multiple times because it was forgotten or because it was taking way longer than it should have. It seemed like there was no designated staff for each section of the restaurant as you would come to expect for dinner or lunch, because of that, the service lacked continuity and flow that a guest can create with one or two staff members to keep everything consistent.


At the Ritz-Carlton, Kyoto, there are three main dining establishments on-site. As you would come to expect from a property of this caliber, the restaurants should match the rest of the hotel in terms of standards.

Mizuki is the hotel’s dedicated Japanese restaurant, you’ll find 4 different Japanese cuisines being served and prepared in Mizuki. It’s open from Monday, Thursday–Sunday from 11:30–15:00 and then from 17:30–21:00. It’s located on B1, one floor below the check-in desk and entrance floor. Guests can either take a stair case down to B1 or the elevators are also able to take them there.

Stairs going down leading to a grand piano and Mizuki restaurant which is on the right.

At Mizuki, there are 4 distinct cuisines:

  • Kaiseki cuisine, you can find the menu here
  • Sushi, you can find the menu here
  • Tempura, you can find the menu here
  • Teppan, you can find the menu here

We had to try the tempura restaurant as it recently got awarded a Michelin star and we’ve always wanted to see what authentic tempura was like. There are also many amazing restaurants ranging from street food to Michelin-starred establishments outside of the hotel that we had to divert our appetite elsewhere, the next time we stay stay here, I would love to sample a few more dining options.

Mizuki restaurant signage

We made sure to secure a reservation after completing the reservation with the hotel as the tempura bar only has 8 and I can only imagine the influx of intrigued guests and gourmets that want to see what this gem is all about.

The tempura bar is a small section tucked in the back of the Mizuki restaurant and it’s quite private. The décor was very modern with blacks and silvers, I really loved the ambience.

Bar seating counter with chef Takashi-sama behind the counter with two large smoke hoods and black and silver decor.

When we arrived at our 18:00 reservation, there was only another couple already seated and have started their meal not too long ago. We had the pleasure of being in the company of Takashi-sama, the sous chef at Mizuki. He will be the one preparing and cooking our delicious medley of tempura tonight. Halfway through our dinner, another couple showed up and it turns out both couples were on their honeymoon – how cute! Given their special occasion, the six of us celebrated together when they brought out the rose pedals and champagne. They thought we were also, but alas that wasn’t the case, maybe another time and place. 😉

Bar counter seating of another couple celebrating their honeymoon and with rose pedals showered over them.

Another post dedicated to the tempura experience at Mizuki will be written which will cover the entire meal service much more in-depth.

For now, I’ll summarize the experience as redefining the paradigm in which tempura sits for me. The entire meal was beautifully presented and executed by Takashi-sama. All of the food dishes were light and delicate, not words that you’ll normally associate with tempura but indeed, it completely changed how I understand and view tempura.

Square plate showcasing all of the raw ingredients for the tempura meal with mushrooms, shimp, wagyu, scallops, fish, lotus root, and more.

The next time that I’m in Kyoto or staying at the Ritz-Carlton, Kyoto, I would love a seat at Teppan Mizuki which is a flat iron grill where they’ll be preparing some of the best wagyu you can get.

The next restaurant is La Locanda, it’s the Italian restaurant at the Ritz-Carlton, Kyoto. It’s open on Tuesday–Saturday from 12:00–15:30 and 18:00–21:30 then, Sundays from 12:00–15:30. It’s located at the far end of the main floor, after entering the hotel from outside, you’ll find La Locanda by walking straight all the way down. The lunch menu at La Locanda is as follows:

La Locanda lunch menu first page.
La Locanda lunch menu second page.
La Locanda lunch menu third page.

While we didn’t eat here during our stay, I can’t imagine the food to be anything less than delicious given the standard of the rest of the hotel. We did eat inside the restaurant as it served as the location for breakfast. The décor was darker with dark colours and hardwood throughout. The centrepiece was the open air central courtyard that had some beautiful greenery and it let in lots of natural light.

La Locanda restaurant tables facing the inner open courtyard with green trees.

La Locanda also had a wide variety of seating ranging from booths to small and large tables depending on your group size.

Large booth seating at La Locanda restaurant facing a large window.

The dinner menu at La Locanda is as follows:

La Locanda dinner menu first page.
La Locanda dinner menu second page.
La Locanda dinner menu third page.

If you were looking for a place to get a drink in the evening, The Bar is also inside La Locanda, it’s open from Tuesday–Saturday from 17:00–23:30 and I saw some pretty high-end wines in their wine display case. I personally don’t drink alcohol so I didn’t sample any of their offerings.

2014 wine bottle of CARRUADES de LAFITE in a circular shelf.

The last dining establishment is The Lobby Lounge where you’ll find refreshing afternoon tea served with decadent sweets and snacks from the PIERRE HERMÉ PARIS pastry shop onsite.

Lobby lounge with sofas, tables and chairs with lush trees outside and seating on balconies.

The menu for afternoon tea at The Lobby Lounge is as follows:

Lobby Lounge afternoon tea menu first page.
Lobby Lounge afternoon tea menu second page.
Lobby Lounge afternoon tea menu third page.
Lobby Lounge afternoon tea menu fourth page.
Lobby Lounge afternoon tea menu fifth page.

It’s open daily from 11:00–18:00 and while we didn’t partake in afternoon tea given our busy itinerary exploring Kyoto and Osaka, I saw many diners seated here during the afternoon in-between our excursions.


Outside of the restaurants, the Ritz-Carlton, Kyoto also has a quaint PIERRE HERMÉ PARIS boutique which sold many delicious looking pastries and sweets. Given how good their French toast and croissants were at breakfast, we had to bring some back for family and friends to try.

In addition to a pastry shop, the hotel also has a spa, fitness centre, and pool with sauna on premises.

The spa and fitness centre are located on B2 and the spa is open everyday from 9:00–22:00. There’s a long serene hallway leading up to the spa facilities flanked by wooden slats soft light, and grey tiles.

Serene long hallway leading with white wall on the right and dark slats on the left.

The entrance of the spa is dotted with top of the line skincare products from ESPA and la prairie along with some unique souvenirs such as the Ritz-Carlton Monopoly set.

la prairie sign and skincare products for sale on a shelf.

We didn’t get any spa treatments during our stay but we did pickup some skincare items to bring back as gifts and presents.

The fitness centre is facing the pool with vertical slats covering the window for some added privacy, it’s open everyday 24 hours a day which is a big benefit. The fitness room had a wide range of equipment; but, it seemed a bit like an afterthought since while there was plentiful amount of equipment, there wasn’t a lot of space. Clearly, I can’t imagine the gym being that popular with guests, if the equipment were utilized, the small room would get way too crowded and sweaty, way too fast.

Small fitness centre with gym equipment in a small room.

Past the exercise room, there was a beautiful pool with 9 lounge chairs on the side, the mood lighting stayed pretty consistent with the dark but soft lights that adorned the space. The pool had a window on the other side facing the chairs and it was very relaxing. It also had a sauna room which is a very welcome feature. The pool can get quite busy during the morning and night time but when it’s empty it was a fantastic place to get some laps in.

Pool and loungers against a grey wall with serene lighting and a dark roof.

A little known fact about the spa area is that there are dedicated nap/day beds tucked away in the corner. It’s a super dark and peaceful space and the Ritz-Carlton, Kyoto even provide drinks and iced tea for guests that want to use this space. I can imagine someone would be delighted to find a place to rest with cold drinks after finishing a steam in the sauna.

Lastly, a neat feature of the Ritz-Carlton, Kyoto are the stone steps that lead from the front facia of the building and cross to the east bank of the Kamogawa River, it’s a super convenient and cute way to cross the gentle river.

Kamogawa River with stone steps and mountains in the background and blue sky.

In terms of other miscellaneous amenities, there was a fancy bridal suite on B1 along with a large events venue that I presume have hosted a few extravagant weddings before.


That wraps up the amenities and features that the hotel offers; however, given the hotel at this caliber the service matters equally if not, more than what a hotel offers in terms of gym or if there’s a sauna attached to the pool.

At a high-level, the service that we received at the Ritz-Carlton, Kyoto was sublime, it was faultless except for the breakfast service.

From check-in to check-out, from associate to manager, everyone we met and dealt with were fantastic and had a great attitude.

Given the length of our stay in Kyoto, before we even checked-in we worked with the concierge desk to secure reservations at Tempura Mizuki, Hyotei, and get a plethora of recommendations for local dining options that ranged from hole in the wall ramen to other fine dining establishments.

Moreover, one late night after coming back from a tour of Osaka and Kobe, we were feeling peckish but didn’t want to order room service, eat at a konbini, travel too far for a snack, or spend a lot. We asked the concierge desk to have a few recommendations ready after we went up to our room to drop our bags off.

When we came back, they had a few options ready, split out by cuisine and they have called ahead to a few places to confirm that there’s space to seat two on short notice.

We ended up picking a soba shop just down a nondescript street away from the hustle and bustle and it was really good!

You’ve already read my praise for Pink Tanjittasuvan, our initial point of contact at the hotel, but that didn’t stop there. Throughout the stay, we ran into her quite a few times whether thats going out after breakfast or coming in from an excursion. She would strike up a quick and breezy conversation to just get a lay of the land, it was like if we had a friend at the hotel instead of an overbearing and artificial probe of questions.

To cap it all off, when we checked-out Pink wasn’t on duty but she prepared a unique set of gifts for her manager to give us as a complete surprise. I had no idea this was coming nor would it be this thoughtful.

After coming back from an excursion, I would stay behind to take photos of the hotel or just explore what the hotel had to offer, she noticed this and gave us a customized wooden picture frame with the Ritz-Carlton, Kyoto logo on it along with a very thoughtful hand-written note.

Wooden Ritz Carlton Kyoto branded picture frame with Japanese calligraphy on the bottom flanked with sakura flowers over an orange background.

There was absolutely no reason to, and it wasn’t like we did anything special, she just did this out of her own kindness. Thanks so much Pink! We look forward to seeing you the next time we’re in Kyoto.

Another member of staff that really went above and beyond my expectations was Asuna Fushiki, she was a porter that helped me with shipping my golf clubs around Japan. When my bag got left behind at San Francisco, they were kind enough to hold onto my golf bag for a week prior to my stay. And a few days before check-out we wanted to use Kuru Neko to ship the bag to Tokyo station ahead of us to eliminate the need for a special reserved seat on the Shinkansen. She was able to coordinate everything with Kuru Neko, determine pricing, and assure me that the bag will be there and not be late.

As the bag had lots of valuables and important items in it, I was very stressed about losing it or suffering a delay, if there was a delay we would have to choose between missing our flights or leaving the bag behind. After reassuring me a few times that it’ll be there and if it wasn’t she’ll be in contact to make sure we get the bag at the airport, I was happy to leave it with them and indeed it was in Tokyo station waiting for me on the day of my flight.

While sending luggage out and using Kuru Neko isn’t exactly ground-breaking, it’s the entire process and her attitude that really stood out. At the time I was beyond stressed as I am used to parcel delays living in Canada so, I expected the worst. She handled the situation with care, patience and attention. We came up with a few contingencies incase things went awry and luckily, everything went to plan.


The Ritz-Carlton, Kyoto is a phenomenal property with a reputation that precedes the hotel itself – which I think it deserves. From the near-perfect service that we encountered on our long stay from all levels of staff to the beautifully designed hotel and room, the plethora of thoughtful amenities inside and out, the excellent elite treatment, and the delicious breakfast and restaurants featured onsite, the Ritz-Carlton, Kyoto redefined what I would come to expect from a luxury hotel.

It has set an extraordinary high bar for other hotels that compete at this level. If you’re contemplating a stay here, it’s very much worth at least a night or two of your time, just so you can enjoy what is one of the best hotels in Japan. I came into the stay with high expectations and all of them were exceeded by the time I checked-out.

I very much look forward to comparing the Ritz-Carlton, Kyoto with the Park Hyatt, Mitsuii, and the Roku LXR in the future when I return to Kyoto.

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