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Ace Hotel Kyoto: A Bold New Direction for an Ever-Evolving City 


Travel in 2021 is a time for bold statements, brave moves and finding brands that we can truly connect with. Sustainability will play a key factor, and we’ll look to celebrate local cultures in new ways.  

Enter Ace Hotel Kyoto, the first Asian opening from America’s much-loved Ace brand. LA-based Commune Design and Japan’s prolific Kengo Kuma have designed the hotel in the former 1920s Kyoto Telephone Company Office, originally designed by modernist master Tetsuro Yoshida. The mammoth ‘Shin-Puh-Kan’ has been converted into a 213-room Japanese-craftsmanship-meets-maximalist-Americana design hotel.

From check-in to check-out, Kyoto’s new Ace is unapologetically loud and a tribute to the city’s ever-evolving culture – not to mention Japan’s first ever hotel to achieve LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) status.

Neon-inspired artworks grab your attention as you enter. Creative minds meet around a long, central communal table under the industrial ceiling of interlocked Japanese kigumi joinery. And the hotel staff are effortlessly cool, but still with the service and hospitality you would expect from a 4-star Kyoto establishment. On the ground floor, Portland-based Stumptown Coffee roasters serve specialty coffee and treats from the in-house pastry team.

Colours, patterns and textures are layered harmoniously beneath the hotel’s temple-inspired timber framework. This includes bespoke creations by more than 50 artisans, from woven copper lanterns by Kyoto-based Kanaami-Tsuji, and textiles by Shobu Gakuen, an artist community in southern Japan.

Guest rooms feature mid-century-inspired furniture with vintage turntables, indigo-dyed bamboo ceilings and tatami areas, combined with Pendleton blankets and bold artworks from Samiro Yunoki. An original member of Japan’s Mingei Craft Movement, 98-year-old Yunoki is also the creator of the hotel’s playful branding. Eco-friendly water packs and bamboo toothbrushes also get a special shout-out, as a welcome change to single-use plastics that are still all too common.

Choose from one of two current on-site restaurants, including PIOPIKO Tacos, with an in-built copper DJ booth. As well as the classics, you can find Japanese-inspired fried fish tacos and more. The ‘PIOPIKO Margarita’ uses lime juice extracted from peels and pith, and excess wine is used for ‘up-cycle cocktails’ with fruit peels, herbs and spices – all reducing the amount of waste generated by the hotel. The second, Mr Maurice’s Italian, featuring a bonus rooftop cocktail bar, is hosted by self-proclaimed rock’n’roll chef Mark Vetri, and serves up specials including the ‘Kyoto Pizza’, with shiso leaf and cherry blossom flower toppings, straight from the wood-burning oven.

Moving outside the hotel, you’ll find the garden courtyard, home to boutique retailers including kimono tailors Y.& Sons, Beams Japan and Le Labo, as well as specialty craft beer bar, Dig The Line.

Getting Around
With a central location on Karasuma Street, Ace is a short 10 minute drive or an equally speedy subway journey from Kyoto Station to Karasuma-Oike Station, which leads you directly upstairs to the hotel. Once at the hotel, Kyoto is easily manageable on foot, or rent one of the bespoke Ace Hotel x tokyobike collaboration bikes for a ride around the ancient city.

Local Highlights
As well as the famous temples, shrines and gardens, Ace Hotel Kyoto is also located nearby the Museum of Kyoto and Kyoto Art Center, and a stones throw from 200-year old confectionary store, Kamesuehiro. Head straight towards the indoor Nishiki Market for a foodie haven, and also Hosoo Gallery on the opposite side of the road for a look into dyeing, weaving and Japanese craft.

Find out more via acehotel.com/kyoto
Photography & words by Ben Richards

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