While the rest of Japan has adopted modernity with abandon, the old ways are still clinging on in Kyoto.
Restored from a 20th century ryotei (traditional Japanese restaurant) in one of Japan’s most alluring destinations, Sowaka Kyoto – member of Small Luxury Hotels of The World – fuses the elegance of Japanese tradition with modernity.
Guests are greeted with serenity as they set foot inside the ryokan, paying testament to Sowaka’s namesake, which means “happiness and well-being” in sanskrit. Sowaka’s details showcase Kyoto customs hewn by local craftspeople and artisans.
Meals are overseen by the Michelin-starred La BOMBANCE Gion, the latest outpost of the award-winning Tokyo restaurant.
Bedrooms and suites at Sowaka Kyoto are discreetly arranged among green courtyards, with long corridors designed to evoke Kyoto’s alleyways. Traditional ryokan elements such as paper sliding doors are interwoven with modern comforts. Think handmade cedar wood speakers, and cushioned, cashmere mattresses. Every considered detail showcases local customs. Bath amenities are made with Japanese camelia oil, and the hotel’s water is drawn from its own underground spring.The main building, formerly a traditional Japanese restaurant, follows the Sukiya architectural style that dates back a hundred years. The Annex, which adjoins it, was built to complement the main building’s original design using the best modern architectural and construction techniques. What both of these spaces have in common is the spirit of “suki” (“refined taste”).
“Suki” brings to mind traditions such as the tea ceremony, but the origin of the phrase is “to like.”The Sukiya architectural style is meant to please guests with its playful, unconventional approach, based on the designs of traditional Japanese tea ceremony rooms. Accordingly, each of Sowaka’s spacious guestrooms has its own charm. The main building offers rooms with a distinctively Japanese “suki” spirit, inherited from past generations, while the annex rooms bring the concept of “suki” into the modern age.
The restaurant La Bombance Gion is overseen by the award-winning La Bombance restaurant in Nishi-azabu, Tokyo, which has held a Michelin star for ten consecutive years starting in 2008.
Makoto Okamoto brings here his magic touch: each dish tells a story. La Bombance Gion uses locally sourced ingredients to create a seasonal menu that changes monthly, featuring dishes that are an elegant, imaginative reinterpretation of traditional Japanese cuisine.
The sleek space, dark walls and perfection-on-a-plate details make for a dining experience to savour.
The intimate bar is the perfect setting to sample a curated selection of the finest Japanese whisky, sake and shochu.
WELLNESS & SPA
Refresh both your body and mind with a superb lineup of spa treatments: The Oil Treatment uses the finest organic jojoba oil as well as a fulvic acid extract that contains 26 types of amino acids, 39 minerals, vitamins, and more. The mineral supplement and detoxing effect help to alleviate stiff shoulders and swelling.
The Face Pack is a gentle massage given with plenty of beauty essence. This treatment will leave your skin in exceptional condition and your mind and body feeling refreshed.
The Massage and Stretch treatment is recommended for those with built-up fatigue.
While Sowaka may pride itself on its serene atmosphere, Kyoto’s most famed sites are within walking distance: Take a morning stroll among cherry blossom in the spring, and sample a tea ceremony in Kodaiji Temple. Visit the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Kiyomizudera Temple for the unforgettable sight of the sun rising over the city’s rooftops.
And keep your eyes open for a glimpse of the legendary maiko (geisha in training) as you wander the beautiful streets of Kobu or Shirakawi-dori.
Two train stations, Keihan Railway Gion Shijo and Hankyu Railway Kawaramachi Station, can transport guests throughout Kyoto and beyond.
Sowaka provides guests with various exclusive opportunities to experience Kyoto and enjoy their stay, including tours of shrines and temples that are not usually open to the public, as well as hands-on cultural experiences. Discover more here.