During the years that Covid rocked the globe, Japan was subject to some of the most strict lockdown laws in the world.
And as the world began to slowly open up in 2021, Japan remained rock solid on their tourist policy: daily caps for foreign tourists, and those that were allowed, had to do so only if they agreed to travel with a (usually costly) tour package.
But from this October, Japan’s back on, baby, and no one’s most excited to hear the news than the Ace Hotel Kyoto. According to the New York Times, since the start of 2021 fewer than 800,00 foreign visitors have visited Japan—which means if you’re jumping on a plane and heading straight to the Land of the Rising Sun soon, you’ll be one of the first to do so.
While Tokyo is the first port of call for almost all of us, we’d recommend jumping on the shinkansen and heading to the culturally rich city of Kyoto, destination Ace Hotel. Designed by acclaimed architect Kengo Kuma and Commune Design, the hotel is a part-new, part-historic 1920s structure that once housed a telephone company. An homage to the city’s one-of-a-kind art, nature, craft and history, Ace Hotel Kyoto is a neighbourhood hub for all the good stuff you need to do, see, and consume during your stay.
Alongside Stumptown Coffee Roasters pulling top-notch espresso in The Lobby, there’s also wood-firing pizzas on the rooftop thanks to Mr. Maurice’s Italian, and cocktails and tortillas at PIOPIKO. If you’re thinking about heading to Kyoto soon, push yourself over the edge by visualising which room you’ll be booking here, and check out the Ace’s meticulously curated neighbourhood recs below.
Chrome Natural Wine Life
1F Shinmachi Royal Heights, 201-3, Ootai-cho, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto, 604-0092
Wine bar specialising in natural wines crafted by small producers, just a 14-minute walk from the hotel.
140 Douyu-cho, Sanjo-sagaru, Sakaicho-dori, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto 604-8118
Inoda Coffee’s main branch blends into the atmosphere of a machiya (townhouse) and a retro space that will make you feel as if you have stepped back in time. 6-minute walk from the hotel.
545 Nijoden-cho, Karasuma-Oike-agaru, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto 604-0845
Great food, even better domestic and international craft beer and sake just a 3-minute walk from the hotel.
Nijo-sagaru, Kurumaya-cho-dori, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto 604-0841
Kyoto’s soba noodles, nurtured by Zen. Careful craftsmanship that has been synonymous with Kyoto for 16 generations, complete with a confectionery shop and a buckwheat noodle shop. A long-established buckwheat noodle shop that has been around since the Edo period. A 5-minute walk from the hotel.
67 Masuya-cho, Sanjo-Dori Sakai-cho Higashi-iru, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto 604-8111
Musubi store is produced by Yamada Textile, a company that brings the culture of furoshiki to the modern age with modern designs and traditional Japanese patterns. Among the fabrics available are patterns by Mina Perhonen, which also produces fabrics for the Ace Hotel Kyoto. A 7-minute walk from the hotel.
Rakushikan Store c/o Museum of Kyoto
619 Higashikatamachi, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto 604-8183
Specialised paper store selling original and Japanese-style paper. It also handles small sundries made of washi, so you can bring a little something home from Japan. Just a 3-minute walk from the hotel.
Sanga Incense Laboratory
528 Akinono-cho, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto 604-0847
Sanga Incense is a store that captures the fragrance of the world through traditional Japanese incense sticks. Incense sticks are made naturally, without using any preservatives or chemical glue. A 4-minute walk from the hotel.
Kamogawa River and Sanjo Ohashi Bridge
Ohashi-cho, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto, 605-0009
The Kamogawa River is an essential part of Kyoto’s scenery. The Sanjo Ohashi Bridge is within walking distance from Ace Hotel and stretches across a 23km river that runs north to south through the city. 10-minute walk from the hotel.
3 Kyoto Gyoen, Kamigyo-ku, Kyoto 602-0881
The Kyoto Gyoen, which surrounds the Imperial Palace, is a large, beautifully landscaped garden where you can find a peaceful spot of grass to lay on and soak it all in. Just a 10-minute walk from the hotel.
614 Oshinishinotoin-cho, Nishinotoin-dori Oike-agaru, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto 604-0042
Mikane Shrine, nicknamed ‘Okane-shrine’ means ‘Money-shirine’ and is blessed with good fortune and prosperity. People from all over Japan visit the shrine to pray. The golden torii gate is the landmark of the shrine. 9-minute walk from the hotel.
This historical street, lined with a variety of stores, can be reached by heading north on Teramachi Dori from Oike Dori. The long-established tea shop Ippodo, confectionery shops, bookstores, and galleries line the street. 12-minute walk from the hotel.
609 Nishidaimonji-cho, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto 604-8054
This 390-metre-long market has a 400-year history, and here you’ll find a variety of Kyoto’s famous foods, just a 12-minute walk from the hotel.
1928 Building (Former Kyoto Branch Office of the Mainichi Shimbun)
Benkei ishimachi 56, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto 604-8082
The building is Art Deco to the core, from the star-shaped windows and balcony in the shape of the former company emblem, to the lamp covers at the front entrance and the floor tiles. Today, the building is a popular destination housing restaurants, retail stores, and other entertainment venues. 9-minute walk from the hotel.