I remember clearly the first time I arrived at The Westin Miyako Kyoto hotel. I was going up the street towards the peaceful hills of Eastern Kyoto when it came into my view. At first, it reminded me of some sort of palace or a castle. When I got inside, I could see it was not so far from the truth.
The huge, beautifully decorated lobby welcomed me, and I knew that I had arrived at an exceptional place. Almost as soon as I entered, helpful staff was there to assist me with my luggage and check-in. I was ready to explore and enjoy this iconic hotel.
As most of you know, the Westin brand is famous for the luxury and premium experience they provide to its guests. But The Westin Miyako Kyoto hotel has something that it can be even more proud of. Its history.
The history of The Westin Miyako Kyoto resort began in 1890 at the base of Kyoto’s Higashiyama. This part of the city was rapidly developing, so a new hotel was a logical idea. Additionally, Japan was becoming more and more open and connected to the world.
A place was needed in Kyoto to host dignitaries and celebrities from all over the world when they came to Kyoto. The Miyako Hotel, as it was known then, was the ideal solution and quickly became a household name recognized all over Japan and further. Over the years, it was visited by people like Chaplin and Albert Einstein, and even Queen Elizabeth II.
For over 130 years, the hotel has changed in response to the times while respecting tradition. And now I had the chance to stay there. As a fan of history, I was delighted.
In addition to the luxury it offers to its guests, the thing I enjoyed the most about the Westin Miyako Kyoto hotel was its perfect location. It is situated on the base of Higashiyama in Eastern Kyoto. This is a peaceful area in which I often felt I was not in the city at all but rather in some rural part of the country.
However, some of the most popular parts of Kyoto, like Gion and the area around Sanjo bridge, are close by. I was able to get there in only a few minutes away by subway while walking here took about 15 to 20 minutes.
And the best thing of all, there are so many attractions around the hotel! So much so that I spend all of my two days of stay exploring only the surrounding area.
Right next to the hotel, there is the famed Kaege Incline. You surely saw its spring photos once, as it is one of the most popular sakura spots in Kyoto. It was constructed over 100 years ago to transport boats to and from a canal that brought water from lake Biwa. Truly a wonder of engineering at that time. The canal was one of the reasons why this area started to develop. Kyoto’s first powerplant was even constructed here and you can see it from the hotel!
A short walk away you can find the Nanzenji Temple, one of the most important Zen temples in all of Japan. This is not just a simple temple; rather, it is a huge temple complex located in the forests of Higashiyama. You can explore a large part of it for free. It is popular with visitors and locals all year long, but it is the most beautiful in autumn with stunning fall colors. Outside of the temple, you might see an interesting site, a huge Roman-style aqueduct. It is also a part of the Lake Biwa Canal which transports water to Kyoto.
There are many more nearby attractions, such as the Yasaka Shrine or the Heian Shrine, famous for its massive torii gate. But one thing I highly recommend is renting a bike and cycling around Eastern Kyoto. That way I visited even more places, such as the Ginkakuji temple and the Philosopher’s Path.
The Westin Miyako Kyoto hotel’s location is one of my favorite things about it.
The Westin Miyako Kyoto hotel offers a wide selection of different room types and suites, so I am sure you will find something that is perfect for you. Many rooms have amazing views of Kyoto itself. Since the hotel is located on a hill, you can often see as far as the Kitayama Mountains.
The rooms contain all you will need and much more! You will find all the standard amenities; however, they will be of the highest quality.
I stayed in the Junior Suite with a view of Kyoto, and I enjoyed every minute of my stay there. From the huge and comfortable beds that felt like sleeping on clouds to the spacious bathroom and shower, I loved it all.
Especially the shower; let me tell you why. If you are like me and love singing in the shower, you would love the one I had. Actually, calling it a shower is an understatement; it’s more like a small room! With great acoustics!
Additionally, I was happy to see that there was a large desk in the suite. This was perfect since I needed to spend an hour or two every day working on my laptop. Also, there was a coffee machine that helped me get my caffeine fix whenever I needed it!
While we are talking about the rooms, there is one more thing I would like to mention. The hotel has an annex called Kasui-en, which is considered the crown jewel of the hotel.
It has a style similar to a traditional ryokan or a tea house and is hailed as a masterpiece of modernist Japanese architecture designed by famed architect Togo Murano over 60 years ago. It is truly one of the most luxurious places you can stay in all of Kyoto.
During my stay in this fabulous hotel, I had the pleasure of having access to the Westin Club lounge.
This exclusive lounge located on the third floor of the hotel is ideal for taking a break or as a quiet space to get some work done with snacks and drinks nearby.
In addition to the breakfast, I enjoyed complimentary drinks and delicious snacks, as well as a cocktail hour at the end of each day.
We all know how difficult it is to stay in shape during our travels. It is so easy to slip from a well-maintained routine and lose your workout progress.
I was a victim of this many times. That is why a fitness studio is one of the things I always look for when booking a hotel. Not only does it enable me to work out and start the day that way, but it also motivates me not to skip a workout!
I am happy to say that the fitness studio in this hotel is clean and well-equipped. It had all I needed to do my exercise routine. There is even a pool there if you prefer that type of exercise.
As you would expect, a spectacular hotel such as this one has plenty of dining options for you to choose from.
First up, we have the All Day Dining “RAQOU” restaurant which is open, you guessed it, all day! It offers breakfast, lunch, and dinner buffets, as well as A la carte dishes. I had my breakfast here, and I have to say I was blown away!
There were so many different things to try, from Japanese meals like miso soup and tofu to western staples such as croissants, bacon, and waffles. The list is too long to write it down, but you can be sure it has far more meals and drinks than you will need!
I still remember how I went overboard with the breakfast buffet and had trouble sightseeing Kyoto! So please don’t be greedy like me!
In the hotel, you will also find a restaurant called Dominique Bouchet Kyoto, which is one of the several restaurants in the world under the guidence of the famous chef Dominique Bouchet.
The restaurant actually has two different sections. The French cuisine one is called Le Restaurant.
But I visited the one called Dominique Bouchet Kyoto Le Teppanyaki, where food is grilled on a giant metal plate. Over the course of my lunch there, I had many different dishes, but my favorites were the lobster and the wagyu beef.
The food is not the only thing that was breathtaking there. The plates in which it was served were all unique and handmade, while their cracks were fixed with gold fillings!
And the view! It was spectacular. I could look over the city, its monuments and attractions, as well as forested hills, all while enjoying this amazing food! You have to try it yourself!
In addition to these dining options, there is also a Tea Lounge called Mayfair, where you can enjoy hot drinks and sweets.
For some evening drinks, you can hop to the Bar Rokuza located in the hotel.
Finally, we come to one of the things I enjoyed the most in The Westin Miyako Kyoto. The Spa Kacho.
This luxurious, newly completed hot spring and day spa complex was the place in which I spent many hours. It has several indoor and semi-outdoor baths and is ideal as a place to relax after a day of sightseeing across Kyoto. As a matter of fact, it is one of the largest spas in Kyoto.
Its design kind of reminds me of the ancient Roman style with all the marble-like structures. In any case, if you are a person that loves hot springs, onsens, or saunas, now you know that there is a perfect place for you in this hotel!
I loved every minute of my stay in this wonderful hotel and enjoyed everything from the hotel’s perfect location and spacious rooms to delicious meals and a relaxing spa.
I highly recommend it to anyone who plans on visiting Kyoto and wants to stay in a more luxurious hotel. If you are such a traveler, make sure to check out their website and learn more!