Located in the heart of a city famed for its Zen temples, historic palaces and beautiful gardens, The Ritz-Carlton, Kyoto, the city’s first international luxury branded resort, invites guests to uncover its best kept secrets and hidden gems. Providing more than meets the eye, guests will witness the property’s dedication to the destination and unparalleled attention to detail through immersive guest activities and innovative keepsakes.
First developed during the 8th century to mimick the gardens of China’s Song Dynasty, Japanese Zen gardens combine the basic elements of moss, rocks, and white stones, representing the pure beauty of Japan and a place of quiet contemplation. Surrounded by many of these gardens, the property features a special white gravel garden neighboring the oldest lantern on site – a nod to the past blended with a contemporary minimalist aesthetic. To ensure the gravel garden is kept in its pristine appearance, Master Gardner, Suzuki-san meticulously rakes the white gravel each week, taking one hour every time to complete the task with expert precision. Learning from the master himself, guests are also invited to discover the art of garden-making by participating in his class, ‘Your Own Zen Garden,’ and create a miniature Zen garden – allowing their creativity to draw the lines of their own personal landscape.
A Fan of Scents
From the moment guests step foot inside The Ritz-Carlton, Kyoto, they are embraced with a sense of calm and tranquility, due in large part to the resort’s signature scent – a custom-blended green tea aroma. Exclusively designed for the property, the original fragrance features soft, refreshing notes of lemon, bergamod and cardamom, with hints of rose, thyme, and jasmine. A culinary master and surprisingly skilled artist, Chef de Cuisine Masahiko Miura of the property’s Japanese restaurant, Mizuki, has invented a unique way to allow guests to enjoy this scent long after they leave the property. Extending his creativity outside the kitchen, Chef Miura has become known for his colorfully decorated traditional Japanese fans which he presents to guests infused with the resort’s signature scent. Another option for guests to take home this unique aroma is by purchasing it in the form of aroma oil and room spray.
An Ode to Soap
Unbeknownst to many, Kyoto is where the first Japanese soap was produced. Situated on the land where the soap was first made, The Ritz-Carlton, Kyoto honors the inaugural craftsmen by featuring special gold-flecked Kyoto Shanbon-ya handmade soap in every guest room.
Inviting guests to embrace the storied history, the property offers a ‘Handmade Soap Workshop’ where guests can try their hand at soap-making at Shabon-ya, Kyoto’s famous purveyor of natural, organic soap. In the process, guests can enjoy a relaxing foot bath in the shop or sample sweets and green tea in the in-store café while waiting for their soap to set.
A Culinary Match Made in…Kyoto
Once a two-story villa originally built in 1907 for Denzaburo Fujita, founder of the Fujita industrial group, a historic local structure was re-assembled within The Ritz-Carlton, Kyoto as a private dining room in La Locanda and preserved as a spiritual space for diners. It contains wood that is over 700 years old, nearly impossible to find anywhere else in Japan today. Dining in Ebisugawa-tei while wearing traditional kimonos is an incredibly unique experience, which connects to the rich traditions and history of Japan juxtaposed with delicious modern flavors from another world entirely.
Time for Tea
As the birthplace of the tea ceremony and with the city’s rich Zen connections, Kyoto has long been admired as the ideal place to experience all things tea. Commemorating the time-honored tradition, The Ritz-Carlton, Kyoto seamlessly incorporates the celebrated drink into the guest experience. Upon arrival, guests are escorted to their room for a personalized check-in conducted over a cup of local Japanese tea to refresh the senses. At The Ritz-Carlton Spa, the sensory experience begins was matcha green tea is served. The spa’s signature treatment, Ryokucha Serenity Ritual, infuses rich anti-oxidant properties of green tea leaves from the nearby Uji region of Kyoto. Additionally, guests can learn about the world of tea with special tea brewing classes – offered seasonally – from a local tea master. Guests can also go the traditional route of indulging in Afternoon Tea in The Lobby Lounge, where seasonal teas, finger sandwiches, and sweets by French patisserie PERME HERMÉ PARIS delight the most discerning palette.
Parisian Treats in Kyoto
Known for revolutionizing modern pastry making, Pierre Hermé has invented his own original world of tastes and sensations, using pastry as a canvas to create stunning works of art. Home to the city’s only team of pâtissiers from PIERRE HERMÉ PARIS, The Ritz-Carlton, Kyoto showcases these tasty creations throughout the property. Most notably, guests have the opportunity to be in full view of the masters at work at the property’s Vetrina Della Boutique in its Italian restaurant, La Locanda. A testament to Pierre Hermé’s deep connection to the destination, a must-have for guests is the ‘Incontournable Kyoto’ souvenir macaroon box made exclusively for The Ritz-Carlton, Kyoto. Featuring illustrations of renowned landmarks in Kyoto by famed French artist Soledad Bravi that Hermé himself believes guests should see including the Golden Temple and the philosophy’s path, guests can choose from a selection of macaroons that rotate seasonally. Guests also have the unparalleled opportunity to work alongside the pâtissiers through the ‘Sticky Fingers’ activity as part of the property’s Ritz Kids program.
The property’s stately ryokan-inspired design pays homage to Japan’s rich culture combining tradition with modern luxury. For more information and to book a reservation, visit www.ritzcarlton.com/en/hotels/japan/kyoto and follow the conversation using #RCMemories.