Hotel The Mitsui Kyoto is a brand-new Marriott Luxury Collection property in Kyoto that opened in September 2020.
The Mitsui is the latest flagship property by Japanese real estate powerhouse Mitsui Fudosan Group, joining the ranks of Kyoto’s impressive array of luxury hotels.
The property looks visually captivating from the outside, easily catching my eye as I was planning my Japan trip in September 2022 and tempting me into booking a one-night stay.
Hotel The Mitsui Kyoto – Booking
When redeeming Bonvoy points, this property typically goes for around 100,000 Bonvoy points per night. However, at the time of my trip, the hotel was offering a PointSavers rate on weekdays for 75,200 Bonvoy points.
As I needed a weekday stay, this worked perfectly for my needs, and I felt it was too good of a price to resist. Indeed, cash rates at the Mitsui Kyoto are quite high, in the range of ¥100,000 yen ($950 CAD) per night.
These prices are on par with many of Kyoto’s top hotels, which typically come at a premium, and made my redemption of 75,000 Bonvoy points at the PointSavers rate feel quite worthwhile.
Outside of redeeming points, it’s also worth considering using a Free Night Award from the Amex US Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card, which is worth 85,000 points, for a stay at this property – perhaps along with topping-up the award by up to 15,000 points if necessary.
Hotel The Mitsui Kyoto – Location
This new Kyoto luxury property has a prime location in the heart of the ancient imperial capital. It’s nestled within residential alleyways adjacent to homes that have been in the area for hundreds of years.
The hotel stands at the former location of the Kyoto home of the Kitake, which is the executive branch of the Mitsui family. The family had maintained the residence here for over 250 years.
Furthermore, the hotel is right at the doorstep of the 17th century Nijo Castle, a UNESCO-listed site that’s one of the city’s most popular attractions.
Within a 25-minute walking distance to the hotel is the Nishiki Market, one of the best markets in the city, lined with street food vendors and restaurants.
Other nearby attractions within walking distance include the Kyoto Shibori Museum and the Mikane Shrine, both within a five-minute walk.
If you’re looking to venture a bit further, it’s 10 minutes to the Kinkaku-ji temple by vehicle, and 15 minutes to the famous red gates of the Fushimi Inari-taisha shrine.
Karasuma Oike station is the nearest Kyoto Subway station, about a 10-minute journey by foot from the hotel, while the city’s central Kyoto Station is roughly a 10-minute drive.
This station is where Shinkansen trains come in from Tokyo, which is a common route into Kyoto and the one we had taken on this journey. Arriving by Shinkansen, we took the subway north to Karasuma Oike and then walked 10 minutes to arrive at the Mitsui.
Osaka Itami Airport is the closest airport serving the area, generally handling domestic flights within Japan, and is located 50 minutes away by car. On the other hand, it’s a longer two-hour drive to Kansai International Airport, which is the major international port of entry into the Kansai region.
One noteworthy thing about staying in Kyoto is that you’ll have a very different experience when staying in different parts of town. Indeed, later on this trip, we’d check out a few different parts of the city, each with its own unique advantages.
At Hotel The Mitsui Kyoto, we appreciated being central and having many restaurants and worthy attractions within walking distance, especially the famous Nijo Castle right on our doorstep.
Hotel The Mitsui Kyoto – Check-in
Upon entering the hotel, you’ll pass through the Kajiimiya Gate, which has over 300 years of historical significance. After being restored with 80% of the original parts, it now serves as a grand entrance to welcome hotel guests.
We arrived at the hotel around 7pm, following a delayed Shinkansen journey into Kyoto.
I had made this booking under my partner Jessy’s account, as I was trying to earn her some elite qualifying nights to renew her Platinum Elite status. Before our arrival, I had “suite-talked” with the hotel via the chat app about a suite upgrade.
I requested either the Deluxe Suite or the Onsen Suite, based on what I saw was available for the evening. The hotel staff said they were happy to offer us the Deluxe Suite.
Unfortunately, I was told that the Onsen Suite is off-limits for complimentary upgrades – a decision I’d later come to understand, as it really does seem like a special elevated room type.
At check-in, we confirmed our Deluxe Suite, and were then informed that our breakfast would be offered at Forni, the hotel’s main restaurant.
We were handed the keys to Room 440. As we completed our check-in and began making our way to the room, I immediately took note of the breathtaking interiors and intricate design throughout the hotel.
The lobby and guest rooms were designed by André Fu, a prestigious Hong Kong-based designer. Four other renowned architects and designers were also brought in to complete the hotel.
In particular, the lobby is where antiquity and modernity collide. A large ceramic sculpture fills the centre of the lobby, and sits below a more traditional Shoji lantern on the ceiling, while the surroundings are made of luxurious rustic elements.
Hotel The Mitsui Kyoto – Deluxe Suite
After perusing the hotel grounds, we finally began heading up to our room. Along the way, I continued to be impressed by the absolutely stunning interiors all around us.
The guest room interiors at the Mitsui Kyoto were inspired by Japanese tea houses with a modern twist, which is immediately notable upon entry.
As we entered the suite, the foyer was elegant, with the flooring adorned in white stone. Slippers were laid out for us to change into before moving through the rest of the suite, which was lined with a nice, plush carpet.
Moving past the foyer, you’ll find yourself in a spacious living area that feels clean, tranquil, and opulent all around. T
Muted tones are thoughtfully used throughout the space, with airy natural wood such as walnut and birch. There’s a natural feeling to the living environment that blends well with its traditional Japanese motifs.
The living area is spacious, featuring a soft sofa and armchair around a dark oak coffee table, which was kindly set with a small welcome gift upon our arrival.
A minibar can be found just around the corner to the right as you first enter the suite. Here, you’ll find coffee and tea, a selection of spirits and whiskey, and some wine in the drawer.
A spacious live-edge desk sits in the right-hand corner of the room, which was a beautiful touch. Built into the adjacent wall are a universal charger and ample USB ports.
Immediately next to the desk is a generously sized flat-screen TV mounted on the wall.
Moving into the bedroom through the passageway, you’ll find a simple space hosting the king bed, flanked by two marble-topped side tables adorned with two elegant lamps.
USB ports and a universal outlet are positioned on the walls by each side table, in addition to a Bluetooth speaker, phone, and alarm clock.
On the right-hand wall is another large flat-screen TV.
The beds in Japan and the rest of East Asia tend to be on the harder side, but the king bed in the Deluxe Suite had a reasonable degree of softness to it.
A walk-in closet occupies the central area between the living room, bedroom, and bathroom passageway.
The bathroom is spacious and equally as elegant, with a stunning grey marble vanity featuring double sinks and an expansive, warmly lit mirror.
My favourite feature of the bathroom was the smooth-to-touch stone countertops with a honed finish. The impressive detailing and crisp surface of the counters really encapsulated the high-quality design and the tasteful materials used throughout the hotel.
The shower and bathtub were enclosed within a single wet room, while the toilet was tucked away in a separate area.
The onsen-style stone tub was especially luxurious. It was quite deep, with plenty of space to stretch, and not only was a bath pillow provided, but at the foot of the tub was a large TV.
The shower had both a rain shower and a handheld shower head. The water pressure was excellent, with an all-consuming blast of water coming from the entirety of the circular rain shower.
Two very plush and fluffy bathrobes were provided, along with a set of pajamas for sleeping, as is customary at Japanese hotels.
Lastly, this north-facing Deluxe Suite offered limited views of Kyoto’s residential surroundings from the windows, with a bamboo partition taking up most of the space for privacy.
Hotel The Mitsui Kyoto – Garden View Room
I had the chance to tour a few other room types at the property.
The Garden View Room is typical of the hotel’s standard rooms, and it’s one step above the base-level City View rooms. As the name implies, this room faces the interior gardens, and I thought it was very well-appointed.
The king bed is the centrepiece of the space, sitting over a muted green carpet.
A sofa lounger is well-placed by the window, creating a peaceful nook overlooking the gardens.
The desk sits in the garden room sits just in front, also along an impressive view while getting some work done.
The bathrooms in the base-level rooms connect the entrance and the bedroom via a set of sliding doors. It’s just as elegant as the bathroom in the Deluxe Suite.
When it comes to different views, the best rooms at the hotel are going to be the west-facing ones that look directly towards the Nijo Castle.
There are both Nijo Rooms and Suites available, and if you can snag one of these, you’ll definitely find yourself with some impressive views of this ancient landmark.
Indeed, on our booking, we had originally been upgraded to a Nijo Room; however, we decided that we preferred the extra space and got the Deluxe Suite instead. Unfortunately, the Nijo Suite combining the best of both worlds wasn’t available on the evening of my stay.
Even though I didn’t get a chance to experience it myself on this stay, it’s definitely worth trying to get a view of the Nijo Castle if you can, unless you’d prefer the trade-off of a larger suite with a less impressive view instead.
Hotel The Mitsui Kyoto – Breakfast
Breakfast is hosted in Forni in the mornings, located on the western side of the garden.
I couldn’t help but once again take note of the thoughtful interior design of Forni. You’ve got some tables at the front facing out into the interior courtyard, and then others further back sitting on an elevated stage with the same garden-facing views.
Breakfast is complimentary for Marriott Platinum Elite members and above. There’s a choice between a Japanese or Western breakfast, and naturally, we both opted for the Japanese set breakfast.
There was the option between miso cod or salmon as your fish item, and then a choice between rice and congee. We decided to try a bit of each.
The miso cod was silky and tender; it came with a little soy sauce to drizzle over the top for an overall rich flavour.
Jessy also thoroughly enjoyed her salmon dish and everything that accompanied it.
Coffee, tea, and juice were available, as well as refreshing smoothies and freshly-baked croissants (the latter of which was handed out by roaming attendants in the breakfast room).
I opted for a tropical mango smoothie, which was fruity and delicious.
Everything on our plates tasted delicious, and the quantity of food on the plate was impressive in itself too. Overall, the Mitsui’s breakfast is certainly befitting of the quality of the hotel as a whole.
Hotel The Mitsui Kyoto – Other Facilities
The interior courtyard garden is a focal point of the property, offering beautiful trees and water features that create harmony between nature and the building.
The expansive Japanese garden features a set of trees in the middle that display bright, blooming cherry blossoms in the spring. However, the gardens were designed so that the foliage has something beautiful to offer no matter what time of year it is.
The restaurants and bars at Hotel The Mitsui Kyoto are composed of three separate sections, each surrounding the central courtyard gardens.
Forni, where breakfast is held, also offers a more relaxed dining experience with all-day Italian dining. Offerings include reimagined wood-oven fire pizzas and grilled dishes using a Japanese kamado-style cooking range.
In addition, two restaurants alternate between lunch and dinner, sharing the same space but swapping out restaurant signs.
Yui serves Japanese cuisine during lunch, and in the evening, the space becomes Toki, which offers innovative French dishes with a Japanese twist.
The Garden Bar is a relaxing environment for evening cocktails while overlooking the gardens. The bar has a wide selection of cocktails, spirits, whiskeys, wine, and sake.
During the day, the bar serves as a spot for peaceful afternoon tea.
The hotel’s in-house spa, the Thermal Spring Spa, is the only luxury hotel spa in Kyoto with its own source of flowing natural spring water.
The space is unequivocally beautiful, in keeping with the rest of the hotel. Scattered boulders are submerged in the thermal baths of the dimly lit large open space, creating a serene experience for anyone coming for a dip.
You could essentially traverse through different sections of the baths within the water. There are two jacuzzi areas with hot water, while the rest of the bath has a more moderate warm temperature.
These thermal baths are communal, which I found interesting, as typically the onsens in Japan tend to be separated by gender. Note that if you have tattoos, you’ll be asked to cover up them up with rash guards while using the baths.
Furthermore, the hotel has two private bath suites that can be booked out at around 19,500 yen ($184) per hour. You’ll get your own private onsen, sitting area, and bathing facilities.
Renting one of these bath suites could be a worthwhile addition to your stay if you’re looking for a more private bathing experience.
Meanwhlie, the hotel also offers two Onsen Suites as their very own room type – which are similar to the private bath suites in that they have their own large private onsen inside them – and so it’s quite understandable that these suites gated off from complimentary elite upgrades.
Lastly, the fitness centre at Hotel The Mitsui Kyoto is well-appointed and modern. Cardio equipment included treadmills, bikes and an elliptical, and then there were free weights as well.
Hotel The Mitsui Kyoto is a top-tier hotel that’s well worth the splurge, and a beautiful addition to both Marriott’s Luxury Collection portfolio and Kyoto’s star-studded hotel scene.
I had been blown away when I had previously stayed at The Ritz-Carlton, Kyoto a few years ago, and would say that the Mitsui is easily on par with, if not stronger than the Ritz, due to its impressive quality, design, and service all around.
The Deluxe Suite was a gorgeous space that’s set within an equally stunning property, the elite breakfast was generous, and the thermal baths with natural spring water are unique to this property.
Furthermore, the hotel has an unbeatable location, sitting within a stone’s throw of Nijo Castle in the heart of the city. If you’re looking to experience the best of Kyoto’s high-end hospitality while remaining central to all of the city’s attractions, there’s no better choice of place to stay.
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Author: Ricky Zhang