Japanese wellness comes in many forms, from onsen hot baths to wholesome meals – all of which are on the menu at Kyoto’s ahh-inducing hotels.
Kyoto’s standing as Japan’s centuries-old cultural capital means today the city maintains a wealth of traditional charm and artistry. That flair extends to its onsen, spas and wellness philosophies. Many of Kyoto’s most luxurious hotels and resorts offer unparalleled, uniquely Japanese wellness experiences – and the best of them can be found right here.
Away from the busy shopping street, this ryokan inn, spa and hot spring draws on the underground waters of the Arashiyama River to provide a complete wellness and relaxation package. Soft woven-straw tatami flooring features throughout the inn, leading you to your own private hinoki cypress-wood bath. The healing waters of the outdoor hot spring leave you immersed in nature, with the sound of trickling water soothing as you rejuvenate. Large communal baths are also available and traditional meals give the full Japanese wellness experience.
THE THOUSAND is a hotel resort that prioritises the transformative power of wellness experiences and relaxation. Here, you can enjoy a hotel stay, a luxury dining experience, even a wedding – but the spa treatments and wellness set the hotel apart by offering meditation-themed treatments. These focus on health and beauty, using traditional Japanese methods and tools that include tea, charcoal and incense.
As part of the Marriott family, guests at the Suiran already know to expect luxury experiences during their stay. The hotel’s spa, however, offers a uniquely Japanese encounter by providing guests with a private sanctuary of relaxation and tranquillity. The two just-for-you onsen (hot springs) at the Suiran are nestled within a calming and aesthetically soothing Japanese garden, with the waters fed from Arashiyama.
Having been around for more than eight decades, Matsui Honkan is a Kyoto inn that takes heavy inspiration from the traditional Japanese ryokan. Decorated in a minimalist style, with tatami mats, calligraphy scrolls and shoji screens, the rooms offer guests a slice of private tranquillity. In true ryokan fashion, Matsui Honkan also provides guests with public baths to enjoy, each equipped with modern facilities and decorated with waterfalls and soothing wood furnishings.
The Screen is a boutique hotel where traditional Japanese aesthetics meet a modern minimalist approach to space and decor. The suites at this boutique hotel are decorated with a beautiful blend of traditional features, including shoji screens and ink paintings, and modern design sensibilities such as wide-open spaces and lounge areas for relaxation after a day of exploring the city. The cuisine on offer mixes French and local Kyoto flavours in a tantalising way.
Here is a Kyoto hotel unlike any other, inspired by Scottish arts-and-crafts design traditions. Simply stepping into the foyer is enough to understand this unique design approach, with its exposed brick and a colossal black fireplace. The spa treatments on offer at Hotel Monterey include full body care and pampering, all while providing guests with wonderful views of the city outside. For women only, there are also detoxifying bedrock baths to cleanse the mind, body and soul.
As its name makes clear, Kyoto Nanzenji Ryokan Yachiyo is a traditional Japanese inn that prioritises mesmerising aesthetics. Garden views, hanging lanterns, wood panelling and shoji screens all create the illusion of stepping back several hundred years to the Kyoto of old. The restaurant and its food also reflect this approach to history and aesthetics, taking an artist’s approach to presentation and offering guests traditional Kyoto kaiseki cuisine.
The Park Hyatt name carries certain expectations, met here at the Kyoto outpost. Nestled in the very heart of Higashiyama, and working alongside a local family restaurant which has existed for generations, this is a tranquil and authentic hotel experience. Traditional therapies and rituals are offered to guests at the wellness centre, allowing you to wash away your troubles and rejuvenate.
Ryokufuso proudly names itself an authentic Japanese ryokan with a friendly approach to welcoming guests with a smile. Despite being a traditional Japanese inn, Ryokufuso also offers guests the option of Western-style banquet dining, while still maintaining an aesthetic of tatami and shoji. The wellness options include a large indoor bath shared between guests, as is tradition in a Japanese ryokan. The bath also offers guests a romantic view of the mountains and atmospheric streets of Kyoto.
With captivating and colourful garden views through enormous windows from rooms decorated with screens and wood furnishings, this Four Seasons hotel is the height of luxury. With a wealth of spa and wellness options, some of the hotel’s finest treatments include the Golden Glow Facial: a treatment that reinvigorates the face. There is also a Zen Mind and Spirit treatment, which rids the body of its stresses through the power of a soothing massage.
Conveniently located within a few minutes’ walk of Kyoto Station, Mitsui Garden is a place of comfort and relaxation. Wellness at this hotel comes in the form of healthy cuisine, supervised by a local dietitian. Nutritional foods including fresh eggs and vegetables are offered to guests for breakfast, ensuring that health and strength are high priorities during your stay. The food is locally sourced and made with traditional Kyoto methods.