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  • Matcha Matcha Matcha – the Suiran is in Matcha Heaven

    Nestled in a quiet cul-de-sac at the west end of Kyoto’s Arashiyama district, basking on the banks of the Katsuma river, is an oasis for anyone who’s weary of the matcha ice-cream vendors and sushi shops. It’s called the Suiran.

    Image courtesy of Suiran, a Luxury Collection Hotel


    Once the summer house of Shozo Kawasaki (he of motorcycle fame), this Meiji-era hotel is the ultimate in Zen. The gardens boast a yuzu tree, a plum blossom and two hundred year old pines. Opened as a Starwood hotel in 2015, the property is now part of the Marriott Luxury Collection, and it’s everything you would expect from this opulent brand.

    Image courtesy of Suiran, a Luxury Collection Hotel

    Crunchy pebble paths take the guest on a winding excursion amongst Japanese gardens and tinkling waterfalls to the reception area. The hotel houses two restaurant areas and 39 rooms in a low-rise building: huge glass windows offering stunning views of the foliage and hills. Whether it’s cherry blossom season or the turning of autumn leaves, the backdrop is mesmerising.

    Image courtesy of Suiran, a Luxury Collection Hotel


    There are traditional rooms and Western rooms. The Japanese style offer tatami mats and low tables and chairs, but if you prefer a European mattress there are plenty of rooms to suit, where you’ll have cloud-soft sleep. Even the carpet has been designed with nature in mind, the design in our room representing moonlight on the water.

    Our room has all the luxuries one would expect from a five-star hotel: flat screen satellite television, high speed internet, mini bar, coffeemaker, hairdryer, Remede bath products, Yukata Pyjamas and slippers and of course, green tea. The Gyokuto Garden Terrace rooms have gardens and private onsen baths. For an extra fee, guests without a private onsen can book one. There are spa treatments on offer where the masseur will not only pound away your knots, but also any bad spirits surrounding you.

    Image courtesy of Suiran, a Luxury Collection Hotel


    Can one ever have enough Veuve?  My absolute favourite pleasure was the Champagne happy hour each night at Café Hassui’s waterside location. Veuve flows from 5.30 to 6.30 pm, with Japanese accompanying snacks.  Café Hassui has low ceilings and offers exquisite views of the river.

    From here it’s only a short stumble to the fine dining restaurant Kyo-Suiran, which overlooks the gardens and is decorated with shoji screens and calligraphy paintings. It is here that breakfast is served every morning from seven.  There are both Western and Japanese options available, with freshly squeezed juices offered by the staff at each table.

    Image courtesy of Suiran, a Luxury Collection Hotel


    Rates usually include a full English or Japanese breakfast and a free one-way transfer from Kyoto, Saga-Arashiyama, Randen-Arashiyama and Hankyu stations.

    Suiran’s concierge team are an imaginative bunch; they can organise an array of unique activities, including sake tasting and chakra cleansing, as well as frequent dinner nights focusing on the delicacies of Japanese cuisine, such as kinshu, where chefs sculpt edible art.

    Close by

    The hotel is in the ideal location for those wanting to stroll to the famed Arashiyama bamboo forest. We were told it would be a good idea to leave by around 5 am if we didn’t want to battle the crowds. However we didn’t leave until seven. It was a rainy day so we managed to get some photos without people in them.  But as we left the forest at around 9 am, the crowds started to swell. The Tenryu-ji Temple was also a short walk away, but it was so crowded we decided to give it a miss after walking through gates and around the temple.

    Image courtesy of Suiran, a Luxury Collection Hotel

    Arashyama has some great shops and kimono shops if you want to dress up. There are plenty of places to eat, and matcha, matcha, matcha everywhere. Next door to the hotel is a museum of Japanese poetry.

    There is a gorgeous train ride on the Sagano Romantic Train through the landscapes of Arashiyama and Sagano. The best river boat ride in Japan is down the Hozugawa River on a flat bottomed boat helmed by a boatman using oars and bamboo poles. You certainly feel like one of the rich Japanese in the Edo period being taken to their summer house on one of these cruises.

    Image courtesy of Suiran, a Luxury Collection Hotel

    For more personalised information tips and advice, or to book this incredible holiday contact your local TravelManagers’ personal travel manager here.

    With compliments of First Class: visit them online or at Instagram