Relax in Elegance at the New Aman Kyoto

Samuel Cochran

You might be surprised to learn that there is no gym at the new Aman Kyoto, now the world’s most buzzed-about wellness destination. There’s no need for one—thoughts of treadmills and free weights couldn’t be further from guests’ minds. Those lucky enough to visit the hotel’s 26 rooms and suites will instead find themselves drawn to the spectacular landscape: an 80-acre tableau of indigenous plants and ancient rocks, with lovingly revived gardens that date to the late Edo period. Who needs kettlebells when the leaves of 20,000 Japanese maples are turning? Rejuvenation (mental, physical, spiritual) comes in the form of walks along moss-covered paths, in the shadow of towering sugi trees, or hikes up monumental stone steps to a secret clearing where the hotel offers yoga and guided meditation. But rest assured you will break a sweat during your stay: Indoor and outdoor baths fed by natural hot springs offer a contemporary take on the onsen experience. Like this spa, the guest pavilions and dining spaces were all designed by the late architect Kerry Hill, who incorporated traditional Japanese touches—from tatami mats to blackened timber façades to cypress soaking tubs. Of course, a trip to Kyoto is about exploring, not just unwinding. AD rounded up some favorite stops in this historic city. aman.com

An outdoor bath at the hotel's onsen spa.
Courtesy of Aman

SEE

From the hotel, it’s an easy walk to some of the city’s iconic temples. Start your morning at Kinkaku-ji, clad in gold leaf that shines in the rising sun. Then head to Ryoan-ji, home to Japan’s most famous rock garden, before continuing on to Ninna-ji, a sprawling complex dating back to the early Edo period. Stamina permitting, take the tram to Arashiyama, where you can visit the Bamboo Grove and Katsura Imperial Villa (a must according to Roman Alonso of the AD100 firm Commune Design). The latter requires advance permission—ask the hotel for help.

SHOP

Tradition still thrives in Kyoto, where small shops spotlight local craft and cuisine. Pick up tea at Ippodo, incense at Shoyeido, and stationery at Kamisoe, a fave of AD100 architect Toshiko Mori. On the same street is a collective of artisans selling wares inside a machiya, as well as a tiny sweets store, Umezono Sabo.

EAT

Peruse the food stalls at Nishiki Market. Slurp soba at Misoka-an Kawamichi-ya or Itsutsu, both beloved for their herring/noodle combos. And for a special treat, snag a coveted bar seat at Monk, where chef Yoshihiro Imai cooks set seasonal menus (pizza included!) out of a stone oven.

FLY

Start your cultural immersion on the tarmac: ANA’s cabins (on flights from NYC to Tokyo) were just redone by Japanese architect Kengo Kuma.

Originally Appeared on Architectural Digest