This historic city of Kyoto is an easy 2.5-hour bullet train ride from Tokyo and is a must-stop for first-time visitors to Japan with kids. The city is surprisingly large and to that end, where you stay most definitely matters. We’ve yet to meet a Four Seasons we don’t like, and the new Four Seasons Hotel Kyoto is no exception. Custom-built around an exquisite 800-year-old garden, the property’s talented designers blended traditional elements and modern design to create a truly idyllic yet kid-friendly oasis. Four Seasons Hotel is host to spectacular guest rooms, exceptional international and Japanese dining, and an extensive spa that includes a large indoor pool — perfect for post-sightseeing downtime.
Although the Four Seasons Kyoto is located in the district of temples, a 10-minute drive from the very heart of the city center, the tradeoff is having full resort facilities with large guest rooms. Kyoto is one of Japan’s most popular tourist centers and during peak periods in particular, the city is extremely busy, making the property a welcome respite from the inevitable crush of people in the heart of the city.
Here’s a look at highlights for families:
Family-Friendly Review of the Four Seasons Kyoto
The garden and pond are the focal point for many of the rooms and public areas, creating a deep visual connection with Kyoto, a city known for extraordinary gardens. Both inside and out, Four Seasons Hotel Kyoto feels light and airy, and families have wonderful spaces to relax and gather together.
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Spectacular Guest Rooms and Suites
Guest rooms are nothing short of spectacular, with plush, cozy textures paired with large windows, many of which overlook the glorious garden (recommended). Large double room categories easily fit families with one child; connecting room options or one of the large two-bedroom residences are ideal for families with two or more children who want to spread out and have a private living space, including kitchen facilities.
Four Seasons signature bathrooms include deep soaking tubs and rain showers.
Exceptional Onsite Dining
Kyoto is a wonderful city for dining, but we stayed in one night and loved it. Between two restaurants, a bar/lounge and a tea house, guests have options. The Brasserie is ideal for smart casual dinners with craft cocktails plus excellent and varied international meal options, and Four Seasons service makes eating in the hotel a treat. The dining setup inside, with a lounge section overlooking a fire feature, is perfect for families who wants something casual and comfortable. While we were there, several families with very young children ate early in this area and parents were able to truly relax. During warmer months, guests can eat on the gorgeous outdoor terrace. I can only imagine how glorious this space would be over the spring when the garden is in full bloom.
The breakfast buffet is expansive and includes a generous array of dishes from around the world, such as fresh-baked pastries, a large selection of cheese and charcuterie, piles of fresh fruit, greens and vegetables, egg dishes, and, of course, a sizable Asian buffet.
We didn’t get a chance to try it, but Sushi Wakon is the in-house sushi bar and run by a Michelin-starred chef.
Custom-Designed Spa, Indoor Pool and Fitness Area
Because the hotel was custom-designed from the ground up, the Four Seasons was able to create their dream Japanese spa and fitness center, including a spectacular indoor 20-meter swimming pool. This provides a great respite for families to take a break.
Meanwhile, parents-only pampering includes pairing Japanese revitalizing and healing rituals with face, mind and body treatments. Saunas and steam rooms, as well as two whirlpools, are available for guest use. There’s also an extensive fitness area.
Quintessential Four Seasons Service
There is no brand in the world that is more reliable for consistently exceptional service than the Four Seasons. As always, service is attentive but not scripted. It’s comfortable and designed to anticipate needs but be flexible enough to address surprises. In our case, our son had the unfortunate luck of being sick during our visit — but as he said, if you are going to be sick, let it be at a Four Seasons.
Premier Rooms start at JPY80,000++ per room.
Editor’s Note: Four Seasons Hotel Kyoto provided a media rate in order for us to review the property in full for families. As always, our opinions are our own on Ciao Bambino. Photos by Amie O’Shaughnessy except where noted.