Nestled deep in the Arashiyama Gorge and accessed via a 10-minute boat ride up a maple-fringed river, the Hoshinoya is Kyoto’s most avant-garde ryokan.
Why you’ll want to go: A visit to the unique hybrid-ryokan hotel will offer you a once-in-a-lifetime experience rather than merely a place to stay. It is a retreat not only from the city but also from modernity, giving guests an otherworldly sense of living in a traditional Japanese abode. TVs are absent, but there are plenty of other unforgettable authentic experiences to keep you busy throughout your stay.
Rooms: The inn’s 25 minimalist guest rooms are outfitted for maximum comfort, with heated chestnut-wood floors, soaking tubs, and duvet-enveloped futons.
Things you can do: A zen garden terrace provides a setting for the hotel’s breathing and stretching exercise sessions in the mornings. Other activities for guests include an incense-preparing ceremony – a traditional way of burning and smelling incense originally used to focus the minds of Japanese warriors before battle. At the bar, found in an old storage house, there is a splendid selection of Japanese whiskeys, including oaked and 21-year-old Yamazakis that can be enjoyed over a game of Japanese draughts.
For more information, visit Hoshinoya Kyoto.