Kyoto sells itself. From the gold-covered Kinkakuji temple to the ephemeral geishas of Gion to the bamboo forests of Arashiyama, to come to Japan and not see Kyoto is to miss the point.
Think of Kyoto as a heavily romanticized window to Japan’s past. While as hi-tech as Tokyo or Osaka, this one city, whose name translates as “Eastern Gate,” pulls off the nifty trick of being in two eras at once. The capital of Japan for over 1000 years, and spared the bombing raids of WWII, Kyoto is all but doused in places to go and things to see.
And that begs the question of a good place to stay. So without further ado, let me introduce you to the Granvia Hotel.
I’m no stranger to this city, and I’ve stayed at both Western-style hotels and native ryokan inns. What makes the Granvia (which is Western) stand out is one simple reason: It is the only one in Kyoto doing everything it can to attract LGBTQ visitors. It is not to say gays are anathema everywhere else, but I want to give credit where it is due. In a nation where taking a definite stance on any social issue involves a heapin’ helpin’ of hemming and hawing, the Granvia chose a camp — ours — and stuck with it. And the fact that it is right in the main train station makes it easy to reach, easy to find, and easy to get a cab to and from.
Land yourself the one-of-a-kind Choraku Suite, opened to great fanfare in 2009, and you will be sitting high on the hog. Designed to reflect the imperial elegance of traditional Kyoto with a few modern touches: the Espresso machine, towel warmer, face steamer, Jacuzzi, oven and refrigerator would have bewildered even the most visionary shogun. At a whopping 73 square meters, there is more than a little room to stretch out and relax, and by being 15 floors up, you are given an unmatched view of the city (no building in Kyoto, especially the historic ones, are all that high). After you absorb all that, you can absorb even more at the 12 restaurants and bars, and can skip from Japan to Italy to China and over to France without leaving the property.
If there is a downer, it’s that the Granvia (and for that matter, Kyoto) is not some undiscovered gem. It’s a very well known gem, with the business moguls and the jet set alike. Getting rooms is “competitive.” But if you’re going go to a place over 7000 miles away, it pays to stay in a place that really welcomes you.
For more information, go to granviakyoto.com. For reservations or more information on Kyoto, contact Steele Luxury Travel at 646-688-2274.
Steele Luxury Travel