The Luxe List 2010, Japan: Hoshinoya Kyoto

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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. Occupying a series of century-old buildings, the inn’s 25 minimalist guest rooms are outfitted for maximum comfort, with heated chestnut-wood floors, soaking tubs, and duvet-enveloped futons. TVs are absent, but there are plenty of other diversions, such as spending time in the hotel’s library, where complimentary hoji-cha (roasted green tea) and snacks are available throughout the day. Service is seamless, and the poised, smartly clad staff speak excellent English. Meals here are also a delight, particularly the seasonally driven Japanese cuisine—think grilled sweet fish with lashings of rock salt —at the Dining Room.

11-2 Genrokuzancho; 81-75/871-0001;; doubles from US$617

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