Deep in a 79-acre forest outside of Kyoto, a short walk from Kinkaku-ji Temple, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a lush hidden garden of cedars, cypresses and camellias, dotted with stone paths covered with moss, and bordered by a gentle stream. This serene, almost supernatural landscape serves as the backdrop for Aman Kyoto, the brand’s third highly anticipated property in Japan (after launches in Tokyo and Ago Bay), which officially opens on November 1.st. Once the imperial capital, Kyoto is recognized as the cultural center of Japan – the birthplace of iconic traditions such as the green tea ceremony, shodo calligraphy, and the art of geisha – and Aman Kyoto aims to honor this both in its programming and its aesthetics.
Designed by Kerry Hill Architects, who also considered Aman Tokyo and Amanemu, the hotel occupies a series of freestanding pavilions that blend seamlessly into the natural surroundings. Six of the trellis pavilions house the 26 minimalist ryokan-inspired rooms, each featuring a neutral color palette, floor-to-ceiling windows, tatami-covered floors, and custom-designed furnishings including Japanese lanterns and ofuro hinoki cypress wood tubs. Individually selected works of art 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 neighboring national parks, house the hotel’s presidential suites, which feature two bedrooms with private bathrooms, a living room and a dining room, a kitchen and a separate tatami room.
In addition to the meditative vibe, seven acres of planned gardens and 72 acres of protected forest, the latter being the setting for the Aman Spa, which offers Japanese healing therapies, guided yoga and meditation, and Shinrin-yoku, the curative practice of “forest bathing”. Treatments incorporate local ingredients including Kyoto green tea, sake, and cold-pressed camellia oil, while the traditional onsen bathing center is supplied by a nearby natural spring. Other gathering spaces include the Living Pavilion by Aman, a central hub with an all-day restaurant serving local and Western cuisine and creatively presented afternoon tea; and Taka-an, a Japanese restaurant that honors the legacy of 17e– century artist Honami Koetsu, who founded an artists’ colony in this region. You can also take personalized picnic baskets to enjoy in the garden or in the forest.
Hip local experiences are a key feature of the Aman brand, and this property offers a range of exclusive programs on that front. In addition to easy access to 17 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, including the magnificent Kinkaku-Ji Temple “Golden Pavilion”, guests can enjoy tours of the Uji Tea Fields (one major tea-growing regions of Japan) during harvest season, learn Zen meditation from a local monk, or take a flower arrangement class with an expert in ikebana. A personal invitation to visit a traditional house ochaya tea room in Kamishichiken district will allow customers to spend time with a geisha or maiko (apprentice), play games, sip tea and watch a dance performance during dinner.