There are certainly bigger and grander hotels in Kyoto than Higashiyama Shikikaboku, but you won’t find many places that are quite so transcendently tranquil. It’s set close to where the city gives way to the mountains, where green spaces are interleaved with urban ones, in a district with strict controls on new construction. And with just eight rooms — and an adults-only accommodation policy — it’s just about as private as can be.
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The building and its interiors showcase hundreds of years of fine Japanese design and craftsmanship, from the minimalist, Brutalist-inspired architecture to repurposed karakami tiles by the 16th-century printer Karacho. The hotel’s owner happens to be an interior designer, and the rooms, each one unique, interpret traditional Japanese hospitality design through an unmistakably contemporary lens.
Artworks are everywhere, in the rooms and in the public spaces, including the hotel’s artfully composed little tea salon. There’s an open-air bath available for guest use, and the rooftop is a gem. In the morning you can count on a breakfast by the Italian-trained chef Ryo Sakatsuji, making use of the produce of a couple of local farms. And from here, a wealth of unusual attractions are within easy reach, from the Heian Shrine to the Nanzenji Temple and much, much more.