Once the reigning capital of Japan, Kyoto is steeped in historical facts and figures. It’s become an intriguing blend of new urbanity mixed with traditional values, which is fantastic for a traveler to this opulent city. Here, we have selected our favorite Kyoto must-dos for the ultimate vacation in the ancient city.
COCKTAILS AT ACE CAFÉ
Evening drinks in this vibrant city are welcomed, and none more so that at Ace Café. Sitting high on the 10th floor of an office building it rewards guests with spectacular views over the twinkling subwaypolis. With 3 glass walls and an extensive cocktail list you’ll feel like you’ve found a gem in the city. Laid back music and ambient lighting is oh-so inviting and once the sun sets the young crowd descend, all wanting to catch up after a day’s work.
A SLICE OF ZEN AT AN ONSEN
Hot springs are appealing to everyone and none are more inviting than an authentic Japanese Onsen. Dotted around the city of Kyoto, spending time at these blissful springs is an age old Japanese tradition that still remains high on locals to-do-lists today. Each Onsen is different, however we love Funaoka Onsen located on Kuramaguchi-dōri, Kyoto, which boasts an outdoor bath, a sauna, a cypress-wood tub, a herbal bath and a few more to tempt you into the waters. Several of the Onsens offer a range of spa treatments, like the Shirodhara massage, where warm oil is poured over your forehead. It brings physical and emotional balance by rejuvenating the spirit.Read more
Nothing is more traditional in Japan than Tea but we are not talking some PG Tips and Hobnobs. Nowhere is tea more treasured than EN Tea House, located in the infamous Gion district. You can book onto an authentic tea ceremony where, over the course of an hour, you’ll cover the making of tea, tea-room architecture, accompanying accessories and the spirituality connect with the practice. So take your seat on the tatami floors and hold out your cup – it is tea time after all.
Pull up your chair and watch your food being made – Itoh Dining style. Situated in the Gion district, it is set up in an old Tea House. A small river runs peacefully along the back of the restaurant, so if you are robbed of a stool at the counter (you’ll be sat in front of the chef), don’t be too disheartened as every seat in the house is superb. If you get a view of the river in spring, it’ll be decorated with the blossom of cherry trees and it really is beautiful. Itoh Dining provides both A La Carte and set menu to choose from, so you’ll be spoiled for choice. Being less than an hour away from Kobe city, try the Kobe beef. It is guaranteed to convince you to make a second reservation.
TEMPLE OF GOLD
Take a wander around the grounds of the Golden Pavillion, the most iconic temple in Kyoto. Why is it iconic I hear you say? Because it the top two floors are coated in gold leaf, making it visually stunning, and although you can’t step inside it doesn’t matter, because the photos you really want are outside. They say fourth times a charm, as this is the fourth time it’s been built. Twice being burnt down during the Onin War (a civil war which wiped out most of Kyoto), and more recently in 1950 when it was burnt down by a rogue monk. Having been reconstructed in 1955 it’s been standing proudly (and safely) ever since, and looking that stunning it has every right to be proud.