One look at the lobby and it’s obvious this is no ordinary hotel: the entrance wall of Ace Hotel Kyoto is swathed with a multicoloured fabric artwork and a constellation of lights sparkle above the copper, donut-shaped reception desk. Opened in 2020 in Japan’s cultural capital, this is the über-cool Ace chain’s first Asian location – a unique celebration of contemporary Japanese creativity with a liberal dose of Americana. It boasts stylish, buzzy eateries, an impeccably curated retail space and guestrooms with a warm, artisanal touch – not to mention a Gibson guitar.
Where is Ace Hotel Kyoto?
Partly housed in a monolithic, century-old telephone exchange, the hotel is in downtown Kyoto on bustling Karasuma Street, surrounded by the city’s grid pattern of boutiques and restaurants. It’s a 10-minute cab ride and even shorter subway trip from Kyoto Station, where many travellers arrive from Tokyo by Shinkansen. The hotel is an hour’s drive from Osaka International Airport.
What’s near Ace Hotel Kyoto?
The hotel may be Hipster HQ but it’s also in the heart of old Japan, with temples, tearooms and geisha districts nearby. Nishiki Market and Daimaru’s famous food hall are a 10-minute walk away, The Museum of Kyoto and International Manga Museum are even closer and 200-year-old confectioner Kamesuehiro is only steps away. With direct access to a subway station, public transport is an easy option, or you can take one of the hotel bikes.
From the Sputnik coat hooks to the Pendleton wool blankets, it’s the stylish attention to detail that sets the hotel’s 213 guestrooms apart, not to mention the turntables and vintage vinyl. The rooms feature bold prints above the beds and deep soaking tubs in the slate bathrooms, with clashing retro-print textiles. For those who want a taste of tradition, there are two Tatami Suites (which sleep a maximum of four adults) but the comfiest, most design-savvy rooms are in the historic building and have high ceilings and large windows. The Historic Twin rooms, with their living areas, cater best for families, while the Loft Suite is a stand-out – three times as large as the standard room at 98 square metres, with two double beds and separate dining, bar and living areas.
Restaurants and bars
As there’s plenty of traditional Japanese cuisine nearby, Ace’s culinary offerings are firmly focused on its American roots, with three eateries and a Stumptown Coffee Roasters café on the ground floor. At the vibey Piopiko Bar & Taco Lounge (open every day until midnight), you can try the sea snails tostada but don’t miss the scallop ceviche. At Mr. Maurice’s Italian, open every day, order the Sakura-Mochi cherry blossom cocktail and signature house-made tonnarelli cacio e pepe. Find a seat under the stars near the rooftop pizza oven and enjoy an authentic chewy crust topped with seasonal Kyoto vegetables. Come back in the morning for breakfast and you’ll find a dish to suit every international taste.
Built with sustainable materials, the hotel is the first in Japan to achieve LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environment Design) status and guestrooms feature biodegradable bamboo room keys and toothbrushes. Book with the code “PlanetEarth” and Ace will donate 10 per cent of your accommodation payment to environmental organisations.
Travel for work
In the lobby, you can join the local Kyoto creatives sitting at the long timber tables, taking advantage of the hotel’s free high-speed wi-fi. There are also three comfortable, well-equipped private spaces – either 50 or 55 square metres – that guests can hire to host team meetings, VIP dinners or special gatherings.
At the 24-hour gym, the treadmills are positioned in front of floor-to-ceiling windows, offering a workout with a view of the hotel’s beautiful courtyard garden.
What you need to know
Ace caters for a culturally curious crowd so check out upcoming events on the hotel’s website to make sure you don’t miss an edgy new exhibition, guest DJ, vinyl record market or restaurant residency.
Best for: Design-lovers
Design: Contemporary eclectic
Ambience: Über-cool but inviting
Number of rooms: 213
Rates: From JPY42,000 per night
Wi-fi: Free and fast
Parking: Not available
Address: 245-2 Kurumayacho, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto
Phone: +81 75 229 9000