TRAVEL | Aman’s New Luxurious Kyoto Hotel Offers Total Serenity And Even ‘Forest Bathing’

The Aman Kyoto is profoundly connected to nature, from the natural hot spring feeding its onsen to the kitchen garden supplying the restaurant.

Ever since 1988, when Aman opened the doors to its first guesthouse in Thailand’s Phuket, the hotelier has prided itself on offering guests not just a place to stay, but a gateway to foreign lands that feels as warm and welcoming as visiting an old friend. A very well-heeled friend, that is, with 34 stunning properties in 21 countries.

Aman hotels are loved by celebrities. David and Victoria Beckham have stayed at their island resort in Montenegro twice. Emily Ratajkowski spent her honeymoon at the Amangiri in Utah wearing not very much at all. Travel photographer Rhiannon Taylor from In Bed With snapped her way through the company’s stunning properties in Rajasthan.

Now, the hotelier has turned its sights to Japan’s cultural capital, Kyoto. Before he passed away in 2018, acclaimed Australian architect Kerry Hill designed the Aman Kyoto – a hotel that is remarkably sensitive to the unique history and natural environment of the area.

Seventeen UNESCO World Heritage sites surround the new hotel, and via Aman Journeys, guests can see temples and experience local culture in ways that are simply not available to the average traveller. Meet geisha in  a traditional teahouse, practice Zen meditation with a local monk, or learn the art ikebana (Japanese flower arranging) with a resident expert.

Nature is unquestionably the star here. The landscape is lush, full of emerald moss and soothing birdsong, bordered by a stream on one side and a forested hill on the other. Cedar, cypress, camellia and Japanese maple trees move through a palette of green, red and yellow with the seasons, an ever-changing painting by Mother Nature.

The heart of Aman Kyoto is the peaceful and welcoming living pavilion. With a terrace that takes in verdant views, and indoors, a central fireplace for guests to gather around, it is a beautiful place to relax and enjoy meals with friends and family.

Of course, proper Japanese appreciation of nature involves shinrin-yoku, which translates literally to “forest bathing”  put simply, immersing oneself in the nature world for wellbeing. The idea of being rejuvenated in nature is central to Aman Kyoto, especially in the seculaded spa, where treatments include bathing in onsens (hot springs), Zazen meditation, shiatsu, acupuncture and moxa.

Aman Kyoto’s understated rooms have neutral colour schemes and windows that draw the eye outside to the greenery. All furniture has been custom designed for the hotel, including the ofuro bathtubs crafted from hinoki cypress wood, native to central Japan.

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