The long awaited Ritz Carlton Hotel has arrived in Kyoto town. It's right on the river, has a striking design and is in a spot convenient for walking into the city centre. It's seriously plush, has some amazing bonsai in the foyer and the staff seem very attentive.
Which all sounds ideal of course but it seems you have to posses reasonably deep pockets to stay, eat or drink there - as you might expect. Actually, before it opened the rumourmill informed us that the cheapest room was around 80,000 yen per night (around $800 AUD) but on inspection just a few moments ago they have rooms for around 57000 yen (under $600 AUD) available this month ie May 2014 - of course there are much more expensive rooms and suites too should you have REALLY deep pockets!
Recently a few of us decided to have a wee sticky beak and stopped in for a drink at the bar.
While the place is tres glamourous we were struck by the number of foreigners working there - I guess, again, you should expect this from an international hotel chain but whether this works for Kyoto is yet to be seen.
My personal view, and I've since found out it is shared by a few locals, is, on initial and very brief inspection of a few common areas, that the hotel vibe feels rather high end Bankok meets Tokyo - instead of , well, Kyoto. A little flashy I guess for reserved old Kyoto town. Which might be a shame because when most people visit Kyoto they want to FEEL Kyoto. Or maybe I've been hanging around Kyoto too long and am a bit biased. For me it's a little like a Disney version of Kyoto.
I'm keen to see more of course - I lived in the same street while this was being built so spent some time wondering about the result!. But for now I can only comment on the tea/coffee lounge area which ties right in to the BKK resort style energy and from all reports sells a very expensive cuppa. The bar was spacious and a bit sexy and they do a mean martini. The bar snacks were really high end senbei (rice crackers) - which seem to be in plentiful supply. Drink prices are what you would expect from a hotel in this category.
I've heard the food is good (and expensive) in the Japanese restaurant but until I have eaten there myself I couldn't personally recommend it of course. One day I'll check out their f&b offerings and let you know! Anyway it is a new hotel in a town that houses a few old crusties which could do with a good sprucing up so no doubt The Ritz Carlton will have its fans. I'm still working out whether I'm one or not.... If you have stayed here please drop me a line and let me know what you think?