In the heart of a 79-acre forest outside of Kyoto—within walking distance of the UNESCO World Heritage Site Kinkaku-ji Temple—sits a hidden-away garden lush with cedar, cypress, and camelia trees, dotted by moss-covered stone pathways, and bordered by a gentle stream. This serene, almost otherworldly landscape is the setting for Aman Kyoto, the brand’s much-anticipated third property in Japan (following launches in Tokyo and Ago Bay), which officially opens November 1st. Once an Imperial capital, Kyoto is renowned as the cultural hub of Japan—the birthplace of such iconic traditions as the green tea ceremony, shodo calligraphy, and the art of the Geisha—and Aman Kyoto aims to honor this in both its programming and its aesthetic.
Designed by Kerry Hill Architects, which also envisioned Aman Tokyo and Amanemu, the hotel occupies a series of standalone pavilions that blend seamlessly into the natural surroundings. Six of the latticed pavilions house the 26 minimalist, ryokan-inspired guest rooms, each of which features a neutral color palette, floor-to-ceiling windows, tatami mat-covered floors, and custom-designed furnishings, including Japanese lanterns and ofuro bathtubs made from hinoki cypress wood. Individually-selected artwork and antiques add elements of color to the tokonoma—traditional alcoves designed for the appreciation of artistic pieces. Two pavilions—named Washigamine and Takagamine after two mountains in the nearby national parks—are home to the hotel’s Presidential Suites, which feature two en-suite bedrooms, living and dining areas, a kitchen, and a separate tatami room.
Further adding to the meditative vibe are seven acres of planned gardens and 72 acres of protected forest—the latter the setting for the Aman Spa, which offers Japanese healing therapies, guided yoga and meditation, and Shinrin-yoku, the healing practice of “forest bathing.” Treatments incorporate local ingredients, including Kyoto green tea, sake, and cold-pressed camellia oil, while the traditional on-site onsen bathing center is fed by a nearby natural spring. Other gathering spaces include the Living Pavilion by Aman, a central hub with an all-day restaurant serving both local and Western cuisine and a creatively-presented afternoon tea; and Taka-an, a Japanese restaurant that honors the legacy of 17th-century artist Honami Koetsu, who founded an artist’s colony in this area. Guests can also take out personalized picnic baskets to enjoy in the garden or forest.
Plugged-in local experiences are a key hallmark of the Aman brand, and this property delivers on that front with an array of excusive programming. In addition to easy access to 17 UNESCO World Heritage sites, including the stunning Kinkaku-Ji “Golden Pavilion” temple, guests can enjoy tours of the tea fields of Uji (one of Japan’s largest tea-growing regions) during picking season, learn Zen meditation from a local monk, or take a flower arranging class with an expert in ikebana. A personal invitation to visit a traditional ochaya teahouse in the Kamishichiken neighborhood will allow guests to spend time with a geisha or maiko (apprentice), playing games, sipping tea, and taking in a dance performance over dinner.