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Hotel Kanra, Kyoto

Kyoto, Japan, Asia
185 Kitamachi
Karasuma-dori, Rokujo-sagaru, Shimogyo-ku
Japan 600 8176
Tel: 81 75 344 3815
From the editors of Condé Nast Traveler:
Plopped like a spaceship (albeit one owned by aliens with superlative taste) amid undistinguished houses, this 29-room hotel is a serene oasis in a city that, despite its mythologies, often dismays first-time visitors because of its workaday plainness. The contemporary interiors feature distinctive Japanese design touches—clean wide-open spaces, precise bamboo surfaces, ingenious storage, and a skilled use of soft, diffused light. The large rooms all have futon-topped platform beds, fragrant cedar soaking tubs, and sliding shoji windows and closets. A tatami-mat sitting room doubles as an additional sleeping area, and a bamboo shade can be lowered to conceal the master bed from view. Each of the Kanra's five floors feels like a small village; an avant-garde ikebana-like arrangement sits at the center, and the guest rooms—all with lantern-lit anterooms and their own lockable shoji doors—surround it like houses edging a town square. It's a perfect, low-key fantasy of a hybrid ryokan, and a perfect example, too, of Japanese minimalism's warmth and elegance. Although the Kanra's immediate surroundings lack charm, you can stroll to Gion, Kyoto's fabled geisha neighborhood, in half an hour. The staff's English isn't uniformly fluent, but their graciousness is as matter-of-fact as the hotel they inhabit. —2011 Hot List

Which room to book: The Kanra Suite has an outdoor stone bath; the Maisonette room has a terrace and a large tatami room.

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