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Suiran, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Kyoto

Contemporary Luxury Located in Kyoto's Historic Arashiyama Area

March, 2023
Suiran Kyoto | Photography Champ Magazine©

Greeted by historic wooden gates, the entrance to Suiran Kyoto transports you to another place of zen and complete tranquility.

Situated next to the World Heritage-listed Tenryu-ji Temple and also only a short stroll away from the famous Arashiyama Bamboo Grove, the Suiran Kyoto location in Arashiyama town is more than ideal. Previously, part of the Suiran grounds were connected to Tenryu-ji Temple. Quiet and undisturbed, the discreet location allows for an uninterrupted stay, connecting closer to the surrounding nature through the Japanese concept of shibui.

Suiran Kyoto | Photography Champ Magazine©
Suiran Kyoto | Photography Champ Magazine©

An evening ‘welcome’ champagne awaits guests in Café Hassui, a 100-year-old building on the hotel premises, overlooking the beautiful Hozu river. All complimentary, guests can treat themselves during the “Arashiyama Delight” evening time to Jyunmai Ginjyo sake by Tsukino Katsura brewery in Kyoto, or Joseph Perrier champagne from France.

Showcasing Japan’s abundant nature from the flying fish that sporadically fly through the air, it’s here in this traditional thatched-roof cafe built in 1910, that Japanese poets and noblemen found peace and inspiration.

Suiran Kyoto | Photography Champ Magazine©

With an open patio, in summer the river plays host to the popular local tradition of cormorant fishing and there is a buzz of dragonflies as they fly by. The only sound heard, is the sound of the river water flowing, the faint wooden rumble of an oar against the traditional boats nearby and other hotel guests as they enjoy the surrounding view.

In winter, the warmth of the café provides a comfortable experience to observe the snow-capped mountains nearby. Each of Japan’s diverse seasons can be witnessed from the change in colours of the leaves or river, to the various seasonal fragrances and tones.

At lunch, there is a tea set option for guests to enjoy, next to the seasonal Ikebana presented in the café with modern interior juxtaposed with the traditional architecture of the building.

French champagne (Joseph Perrier) for the welcome drink at Suiran Kyoto | Photography Champ Magazine©
Autumn at Café Hassui, Suiran Kyoto | Photography Suiran Kyoto
Suiran Kyoto | Photography Champ Magazine©
Suiran Kyoto | Photography Champ Magazine©

Suiran Kyoto holds 39 rooms, which range from Moderate Twin to Presidential Suites, with some equipped with their own private cedar wood onsen.

Some rooms combine the aesthetics of a traditional Japanese ryokan – tatami mat flooring, textured walls, black lacquer furniture – with contemporary comforts such as sumptuous Airweave beds, flat screen TVs, and free fast Wi-Fi. Amenities are made by Swedish brand Byredo, all currently single use as the hotel soon transitions to a more sustainable system in the coming months. 

Daily newspapers are able to be ordered to rooms in the morning, with in-room drip-coffee, Japanese tea and priced minibar fully stocked. The Suiran is part of the Marriott group’s Luxury Collection, so guests can expect all the comforts of the luxury series here in Arashiyama also. 

Champ Editor-in-Chief Monique Kawecki explores Suiran Kyoto | Photography Champ Magazine©
Suiran Kyoto | Photography Champ Magazine©

Rooms on the ground floor are charming and exceedingly private, they have their own two-person onsen, with small but perfectly-formed gardens to lounge in (these unfortunately don’t have any other views). Rooms upstairs – which have balconies instead – are a better choice if you’re in Kyoto for the cherry blossom season during March and April, or to see Arashiyama mountain’s forest of maple trees turn flame red in late November. The views from top room balconies are the highlights during these key seasonal moments.

The hotel gardens themselves showcase the best of Japanese landscaping, designed with seasonality in mind. At the heart of the hotel grounds, maple and cherry blossom trees bloom at different times of the year, as do the plum trees on the premises. At any of the year there is a spectacular ‘painting’ to admire.

The Yuzunoha Room, LivingRoom area with outdoor onsen (hot spring) spa bath | Photography Champ Magazine©
The Gyokuto Garden Terrace Suite Bedroom, Suiran Kyoto | Photography Suiran Kyoto

For guests without an onsen in their room, there is the option to book the hotel’s two other onsen spaces for 45 minute sessions (at an added fee) in either wooden bath or stone bath.

Each onsen utilises the natural hot spring water from Arashiyama Mountain, containing its own minerals for good health (such as magnesium, calcium and potassium) in addition to other benefits such as healing joint pain and aiding muscle recovery. This form of wellness is embedded in Japan’s culture, and for good reason. Softening the skin and relaxing the mind, to have onsen accessible in the hotel adds to the luxury experience.

Onsen in the evening in the The Yuzunoha Room at Suiran Kyoto | Photography Champ Magazine©

Kyoto’s history comes from an aristocratic heritage, hence the plentiful temples and traditional architecture and Suiran’s exceptional location. With a property history of over 700 years, the incredible history the Suiran premises shares is unexplainable.

Originally built for the Imperial Palace in the 13th century, it was an ideal location for one emperor’s summer palace and even holds a history of ownership by (Shozo Kawasaki) Kawasaki Heavy Industry founder.

Suiran’s contemporary nod to its locations’ heritage is found in the 120 year-old traditional Japanese villa – the former Kawasaki’s summer villa – Villa of Longevity”. Now, guests find Restaurant Kyo-Suiran situated here.

Kyo-Suiran restaurant at Suiran Kyoto | Photography Suiran Kyoto
Suiran Kyoto | Photography Champ Magazine©
Suiran Kyoto | Photography Champ Magazine©
Suiran Kyoto | Photography Champ Magazine©

At Restaurant Kyo-Suiran, washoku cuisine is prepared in French style, blending the two cultures together for a new dining experience. Using the freshest local and seasonal ingredients presented in exquisite ceramics and lacquerware. 

During winter, the ‘Kinshu’ dinner course of multiple dishes presents seasonal ingredients such as lily bulb with caviar and lemon, and crab, yuba and wasabi.

The wine list here is extensive, with most coming from France (some from California, Australia, Spain and one surprisingly, from Japan – the Toriivilla Imamura Cuvée Yuka 2004). Champagne is from Champagne, France, highlighting brilliant producers there such as Dom Pérignon and Salon. Sake of course is from Japan, with most Kyoto producers highlighted, in addition to the French-owned IWA 5 brewery (by former Chef de Cave at Dom Pérignon, Richard Geoffroy) from Tateyama.

Suiran Kyoto | Photography Champ Magazine©
Suiran Kyoto's Breakfast with a spectacular view of the hotels traditional Japanese garden at Restaurant Kyo-Suiran | Photography Champ Magazine©

The hotel also offers various traditional external activities to enjoy, such as an arranged rickshaw ride in Arashiyama or a private boat champagne package. Especially arranged at dusk, a private boat ride in a traditional Japanese wooden boat on the Hozu River is a romantic way to take in the poetry of the landscape. 

A rickshaw ride is one of the traditional transportation methods of the area, and through this experience guests can experience the small streets of Arashiyama or the small pathways toward the bamboo forest. With English-speaking guides available, booking a rickshaw ride is highly recommended. Guests are picked up (and returned) at the entrance of the Suiran, securely settled for the ride, and even in winter are equipped with seat warmers and blanket.

The curated rickshaw ride shares a side of Arashiyama not often explored by foot, with the rickshaw guide explaining more about the town’s heritage and history, stopping at unsuspecting but significant monuments.

Suiran Kyoto's Toki-no-yuka Garden, perfect to enjoy the view | Photography Suiran Kyoto

Suiran’s exceptional location in the traditional and nature-abundant Arashiyama ensures it is a memorable experience, and one in contemporary luxury.

Our suggestion for the best timing to relax with a wine? In the private guest-only Toki-no-yuka Garden on the hotel premises, just as the evening changes from dusk to twilight. Magic.

Arashiyama Bamboo Forest, a short walk from Suiran Kyoto | Photography Champ Magazine©
Arashiyama Bamboo Forest, a short walk from Suiran Kyoto | Photography Champ Magazine©
Tranquil streets and temples surround Suiran Kyoto | Photography Champ Magazine©
The World-Heritage listed Tenryu-ji Temple is situated next to Suiran Kyoto | Photography Champ Magazine©

Suiran Kyoto 
12 Susukinobaba-cho,
Saga-Tenryuji, Ukyo-ku, 
Arashiyama, Kyoto,
Japan, 616-8385

For more design and travel destinations in Kyoto and Japan, click here.
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Text: Monique Kawecki
Images: As credited, SUIRAN KYOTO and Champ Magazine©

Suiran Kyoto, View from Hozu River, Japan.
March, 2023