Hotel industry insiders in Japan have been whispering good things about the Hotel The Mitsui Kyoto since it opened. Actually, it created quite a stir. The fabled Mitsui name, long associated with aristocracy, wealth and good taste, was actually going to be placed on a hotel sign for the first time. Moreover, it was going to compete with the big names of the luxury hotel industry on its own turf.
Kyoto is one of the most visited cities in the world. However, until The Mitsui Kyoto came along, most of the best Western-style hotels were managed by foreign companies. Now a Japanese player with a blue-chip name was joining the game.
Other things also differentiated the Hotel The Mitsui Kyoto from the handful of beautiful luxury hotels that have opened in Kyoto in the last few years. For one, it had a most enviable location across fabled Nijo Castle, which is truly one of the most beautiful and best preserved castles in Japan.
THE COST OF PERFECTION
Also, as finances did not seem to be an issue, the hotel was rumored to have been created without a strict budget in mind. Instead it had a firm mandate: to ensure that the very first Mitsui brand luxury hotel in the world would be known for impeccable design and details.
This is easily a dream assignment for architects and interior designers. However it is also a challenge. How does one create a hotel than stands out but at the same time blends in with this ancient city? This is what I came to Kyoto to find out. Andre Fu, who also did the Upper House in Hong Kong, a member of Preferred Hotels and Resorts, undertook the redesign of the interiors.
ABOUT THE NIJO SUITE OF HOTEL THE MITSUI KYOTO
I checked into the Nijo Suite. The name alone instantly says everything about the room, considering the proximity of the hotel to this main attraction of Kyoto. This is one of the best rooms in the hotel. My living room and bedroom enjoyed a full wide frontage opposite Nijo Castle so that I had its graceful gate and watch towers — both national treasures of Japan — in front of me all day until 10 PM when the lights went out.
THE BEST OF JAPANESE DESIGN
The suite itself is contemporary Japanese in a most sophisticated way. And in a completely understated way as well. Looking at the smooth slabs of wood and the fine finishings on everything from the bar to the bathroom, obviously no expense was spared.
The designers created the kind of room that whispers soothingly rather than shouts luxury. Nothing stands out but everything fits seamlessly together so that the effect is pleasing to the senses.
MY FAVORITE PLACE
My favorite part of this suite is the living room, of course. It is spacious and comfortable — the kind of room that makes you feel that everything is right with the world when you are in it. However, within this premium space opposite the gates of Nijo Castle, there is a modest corner with only a plain wooden table and chair. In my opinion, this is the best place to sit in the entire hotel.
You can watch Kyoto life pass you by, observe the changing light falling on the castle gates, and imagine how samurai once entered here with fear and awe to meet the shogun. Except you are in a Western-style room with Japanese furniture, and as you look out the window, you probably have a cup of green tea in hand. Or a glass of Japanese whiskey as the in-room bar is well-stocked.
And this is how the East and West, and past and present, have met in such a wonderful way in Kyoto.
Read more stories about the Hotel The Mitsui Kyoto in Travelife Magazine.