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Kyoto Hotels

The Hotel Seiryu Kyoto Kiyomizu

Why stay?

In the heart of the historic Higashiyama district—and just a 15-minute taxi ride from Kyoto Station—Seiryu Kyoto Kiyomizu was converted from an elementary school built in 1933, symbolizing the city’s philosophy of preservation through reinvention. High-profile architect Ryu Kosaka has incorporated original design elements into his modern vision for the property, curating a graceful retreat with plenty to rave about. As well as offering up-close views of the 15th-century Yasaka Pagoda, the hotel also boasts partnerships with acclaimed Parisian restaurant Benoit and Bar K6, one of the most celebrated cocktail parlors in town.

The neighborhood

Guests are within walking distance of many of the city’s most culturally important sites. A 10-minute stroll will take you to the World Heritage–listed Kiyomizu-dera Temple, a true architectural marvel, while the ancient stone-paved streets of Ichinenzaka and Ninenzaka en route give a feel of old Kyoto. Slightly farther away, the Geisha district of Gion and Sanjusangen-do, whose main hall ranks as the longest wooden structure in Japan (it houses 1001 statues of the bodhisattva Kannon), are also easily reached on foot.

A Superior King room at The Hotel Seiryu Kyoto Kiyomizu.

The feel

A stately exterior featuring arched windows, wooden corbels, and Spanish roof tiles gives the Seiryu real presence. This sense of grandeur also permeates the public spaces indoors. An elegant guests-only lounge—a relaxing spot for complimentary hors d’oeuvres and cocktails—offers 270-degree vistas of the site’s greenery and nearby rooftops through floor-to-ceiling windows, and the former auditorium with its antique light fixtures has been transformed into a library and breakfast lounge (the books can be taken up to your room).

Guest quarters

All accommodations are minimalist in style with recessed lights and tray ceilings; 44-square-meter Standard King rooms play up the original attributes of the school building through off-white walls and pastel-gray fittings, while the Pagoda View and Terrace Twin rooms use golden wood paneling and timber floors for a more natural feel. No matter which one you book, you’ll find luxury Simmons mattresses, portable Bose speakers, and a complimentary minibar. Looking to splurge? The Panoramic suite comes with a spacious living and dining area plus jaw-dropping city views.

Food and drink

The Seiryu contains three F&B outlets. Opening out onto the onetime playground is the Kyoto outpost of Benoit by celebrity chef Alain Ducasse; seasonal flavors and local ingredients are showcased here in traditional bistro fare with a modern twist. At the highest level, K36 The Bar and Rooftop has a drinks list conceptualized by one of Kyoto’s most well-known bartenders, Minoru Nishida. Expect impeccable cocktails, fine wines, and rare Japanese whiskies, as well as sumptuous dishes like lobster salad; K36 also makes for a stunning location to overlook the city and the surrounding mountains. Breakfast—a selection of healthy Western and Japanese dishes—can be enjoyed at the library lounge or outdoors on the adjacent terrace.

A Japanese breakfast set enjoyed at the hotel’s library-restaurant.

Wellness factor

It must be noted that the hotel doesn’t have a full-service spa, though there are three high-ceilinged private baths that can each accommodate up to four people. A cozy gym is located on the first floor.

Family matters

Up to two children aged five and below stay for free when sharing a twin room with adults (king rooms accommodate one extra child). Young families may need to request an in-room breakfast, as kids under six are not allowed at the library-restaurant. The same restrictions apply to the guest lounge.

Sustainability cred

Aside from reducing food waste and plastic consumption, parent company Prince Hotels also supports rural revitalization efforts across Japan by sourcing ingredients from local farmers and embracing the food cultures of each region where the group has a presence.

What else?

Off-site activities available to Seiryu guests include sightseeing by rickshaw, a hands-on workshop in making traditional hemp accessories, and a private tea ceremony inside a century-old garden near the famed temple of Ryoan-ji.

Reviewed by Bryan Eastlake
+81 75 532 1111
2-204-2, Kiyomizu, Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto, Japan