Nestled away alongside the pristine waters of the peaceful Hozu River in a suburb of Kyoto called Arashiyama is the Suiran Hotel – a Luxury Collection hotel. The stunning, leafy location is rich in history and beautifully charming.
From this unique vantage point, Suiran offers the perfect place from which to enjoy the natural beauty of Japan throughout the seasons – from the notorious cherry blossoms of spring to autumn’s luxuriant mix of red, yellow and green leaves with the timeless backdrop of the forested slopes beyond.
Upon arrival at the Suiran, the Luxury Collection Concierge subtly swoop in to enable guests to stand in awe of the charming setting they are surrounded by, before being led through the hotel’s private winding Japanese garden – combining both traditional and contemporary beauty. Inside the 3-storey main building, which fuses contemporary Japanese minimalism with ancient crafts, are the hotel’s 39 guest rooms.
Each room and suite also has a distinctly Japanese touch. They’re coloured in the 6 Japanese signature colours – violet, indigo blue, vermilion, jade-green, gold, and moon-white, and 17 of them have a sumptuous private, open-air wooden onsen bathing tub. Each bath is filled with piping hot natural Arashiyama spring water, allowing guests to recoup and recover from their day while taking in the sounds, scents and air of Kyoto – a true Japanese sensory experience. The suite’s onsens are located on elevated balconies, for an even more panoramic experience.
Kyoto, the ancient capital of Japan is the perfect place to experience many things synonymous with the tradition and charming history of Japan. The city is famous for its geiko – the Kyoto version of geisha, who are professional entertainers trained in various traditional Japanese arts, such as dance and music, as well as in the art of communication. The city also has an abundance of cobbled streets and ancient wooden buildings with paper shuttered doors that truly transport you to what feels like another era altogether. It’s also conveniently located just under 3 hours from Tokyo via Shinkansen (the famous Japanese bullet train).
Arashiyama, the district on the outskirts of the city where the Suiran is located, is a destination with roots going back to 794, when Kyoto, then called Heian-kyo, became home to the imperial court. Arashiyama was soon the hot spot for court aristocrats during the summer; a retreat notorious for its charm and serenity. Located on the former site of an imperial villa, the Suiran was historically a riverside property favoured for its sweeping views of the Arashiyama river and hills.
Today’s visitors can delight in the local sights such as the Sagano Bamboo Forest and UNESCO World Heritage site Tenryu-ji Temple – both within minutes of the hotel’s doorstep. There is also one of the most famous restaurants in the world just metres away, which has three Michelin Stars and is notorious for being one of the costliest dinners on the planet.
The beauty of the Arashiyama hills can however best be experienced from the terrace at the Suiran hotel’s Cafe, called Hassui. From here guests can enjoy views of the river’s vast views of maple foliage in the autumn, and luminous pink Sakura blossoms in the spring. Cafe Hassui is also ideal for a light meal, a sample of seasonal desserts or enjoying the hotel’s complimentary aperitifs between 5-7 pm every evening.
Inside the main building is Suiran’s Kyo-Suiran restaurant. Diners here are treated to authentic Japanese cooking methods combined with French disciplines. Set within an old 19th-century summer house once belonging to Baron Shozo Kawasaki, a Japanese industrialist and shipbuilder, Kyo-Suiran is complete with a combination of Meiji-era architecture, mixed with contemporary, sleek lighting and seating. On offer are traditional teppanyaki dishes or Kinshu—or a 13-course seasonal dinner, which tells a unique culinary story of the art of Japanese dining. The restaurant is also the setting for breakfast, which is a la carte and fuses traditional eastern and western dishes in front of the zen garden.
The Suiran is a welcome oasis of tranquillity in Kyoto – the city of 1600 shrines and temples – and leaves you with lasting memories of the luxury, charm and spirit of Japanese hospitality. And, with British Airways flights soon starting directly from London to Osaka, which is just 30 minutes by car or 12 minutes by bullet train from Kyoto, to coincide with Japan hosting both the 2019 Rugby World Cup and 2020 Summer Olympics, it’s within even easier reach.
Words by Alexandra Frances
British Airways fly from London Heathrow to Tokyo, with seats in the World Traveller Plus cabin from GBP1253 to Tokyo Haneda or GBP1253 to Tokyo Narita, both return including taxes/fees/carrier charges.