Jun 09, 2023

The Shinmonzen: Japanese hospitality at its finest

After some exciting and fun days in Tokyo, we were extremely excited about our next stop, Kyoto!  

Before arriving in Kyoto, we first had to cross off one more item from our bucket list, which of course was travelling with the notorious bullet train, Shinkansen. We took to train from Shinagawa station, but only arrived in the very last minute due to delays from Shinjuku station, so we were very relieved when we found our seat, stored our bags and were ready to enjoy the ride. The train travels by than 300 km/hr and it is a fun experience to see the landscape pass by so fast. From Tokyo to Kyoto you go by Mount Fuji, but unfortunately, we could not see the top as the day was quite cloudy.  

Our first stop in Kyoto was The Shinmonzen, located in the Gion area, which is known for its Geisha district. When we arrived in Kyoto station, we were greeted the moment we stepped out of the train, what better reception can you hope for? After a short ride and some tips along the way from our driver, we arrived at the exclusive hotel and were ready for a special experience. The Shinmonzen is located adjacent to the Shirakawa river and only offers 9 suites, each with a unique design. We were lucky to experience the Tooki suite, which we absolutely loved. The care for detail is second-to-none, from the choice of design, furniture, the slippers, bathrobe, minibar selection and not least service level of the Shinmonzen team. It is a truly special place.

The Shinmonzen is Kyoto’s new hidden gem. The name is eponymous of ‘Shinmonzen Dori’ – known as The Street of the Artists, Fine Arts and Antique shops; a neighbourhood rich in arts, historical heritage and cultural legacy. The luxury boutique hotel has been designed by one of the world’s most celebrated contemporary architects – Tadao Ando with cosmopolitan interiors by Remi Tessier and other artist friends for the modern travellers.

The Shinmonzen provides a highly personalized experience based on Japanese Omotenashi (a Japanese expression that covers concepts of hospitality and mindfulness), which is combined with the refined epicureanism shaped by their sister property, Villa La Coste, in Provence.

We were welcomed with a nice dessert and an excellent wine from the vineyard of the sister property in France. Our room had a nice living room, beautifully decorated, a classical Japanese sliding doors connecting it to the bedroom with a large balcony along the Shirakawa river. The bathroom was spacious with a bamboo hot tub, how charming is that? 

After unpacking, we went for a walk in the Gion area. The weather was very nice, so we enjoyed strolling around for a couple of hours to see Geisha district and the Yasaka-jinja Shrine.   

We had planned to find a restaurant for dinner the day we arrived, but we fell completely in love with our room and decided to abandon our plan and instead order some takeaway sushi and enjoy it with a glass of wine on the balcony to the sound of the running river – it was an incredible night!  

Next morning, we decided to wake up early and visit Fushimi Inari-taisha, which is located relatively close to The Shinmonzen. We always like to get up early to avoid big crowds and we managed to get there before most other people had arrived. It was a very special experience walking through the orange gates and feeling the mood, so we ended up walking around the area for some hours before returning home for breakfast.  

You might already have guessed it, but we decided to have the Japanese breakfast in our room, so we could sit peacefully on our balcony and enjoy the delicious selection of local dishes, all perfectly prepared for us. The calmness of the river running really allowed us to unwind and just sit and reflect about the beauty of life. 

Sometimes you are lucky to have unforgettable experiences in life and our stay in the Shinmonzen was one of those. We cannot think of a single thing that was not absolutely perfect during our stay. It is a truly place and something that I wish everyone will have the change to experience at least once.

The next time we visit Kyoto, we cannot visit without stopping by The Shinmonzen again.  


The bedroom:

The breakfast in the balcony:

In-room breakfast:


Cozy dinner date:

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