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Hoshinoya Kyoto, Kyoto

$400 or more
Kyoto, Japan, Asia: elements, such as this Zen garden of raked sand under the canopy of fall foliage,
11-2 Genrokuzancho
Arashiyama, Nishikyo-ku
Japan 616-0007
Tel: 81 75 871 0001
From the editors of Condé Nast Traveler:
"This hybrid ryokan-hotel, a series of low buildings inspired by traditional Japanese houses, clings to the banks above the Hozugawa River in the temple-rich Arashiyama district, and is accessed by a lazy boat ride in a hinoki (Japanese cedar) vessel. Its 25 elegant rooms too are redolent of cedar, and although they don't have TVs, they do have heated wooden floors, hand-blocked wallpaper, shoji-inspired sliding glass doors and picture windows (all the better to lean out and watch the foxes, deer, and occasional monkey that prance through the forest), deep cedar soaking tubs, and lofty duvets that sigh when you flop down on them. From the iron lanterns that light the moss-traced stone walkways to the lashed bamboo fences, every detail has been well considered. In lieu of a bar, there's a library, refreshed throughout the day with complimentary snacks by the gracious staff (who speak excellent English). As in a traditional ryokan, there are some restrictions—the boat back to the docks runs only from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.—but Hoshinoya is a retreat not only from town but from modernity. At night, after you've eaten an excellent Japanese or French meal and changed into the provided lounging clothes (complete with raw-silk robes), you can sit in the Zen rock garden, look up at the star-smeared sky, and forget what century you're in." —2010 Hot List

Which room to book: All have river views, but Nos. 118 and 119 hover right above the water and offer the most intimate sight lines of the flowering fruit trees on the opposite bank.

Information may have changed since the date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.