Japan: Present and Past

Japan: Present and Past
Photo/Ralf Tooten
Prince Gallery Tokyo Kioicho

Tokyo’s vast skyline, its towers aglow with blinking red lights, fans out beneath the 33rd-floor windows of your room at the new Prince Gallery Tokyo Kioicho hotel. The mesmerizing urban landscape is the focal point of the design through spans of glass with a daybed in the window inviting you to contemplate the futuristic metropolis. And yet, in Kyoto, just a few hours to the southwest by bullet train, the same hotel collection presents Suiran, where Japan’s ancient cultural traditions are still preserved and revered. Visitors can have the best of both eras.

In its way Kioicho leaves some of the frenetic buzz of Tokyo’s pulsing streets solidly on terra firma as the 36th-floor reception area reveals an overlook of the dramatic two-story Levita lounge with the skyline beyond. The hotel occupies the skyscraper’s top seven floors with two restaurants, a Kioi spa featuring an indoor swimming pool and fitness center and 250 rooms and suites designed to evoke residential apartments. 

At the restaurant Washoku Souten you can indulge in traditional Japanese culinary delicacies, including melt-in-your-mouth blowfish. The chandeliers are designed to resemble the huge blocks of ice at the Tsukiji fish market, the seafood source for the refined omakase tasting menus presented on various plates with artistic flair. From there you head into the intimate Bar illumiid for a Japanese whisky and a cigar.

Until 1868, Kyoto was Japan’s capital. It is still the seat of its cultural traditions. Behind an imposing wooden gate, Suiran occupies the pastoral grounds of a former royal palace. The peaceful sanctuary in the Arashiyama district combines antique and modern architecture with 39 guest rooms, some of which have private al fresco onsens (natural thermal hot tubs).

The Suiran staff is happy to immerse you in the ancient culture—from a rickshaw tour to an audience with a geisha to a private meditation session with a monk at the neighboring Tenryuji Temple, a World Heritage Site. Also nearby, the remarkable bamboo forest is an idyllic destination for a tranquil early-morning stroll before the crowds descend.

The two hotels are a unique opportunity to feel as if you have traveled centuries through time.

Visit princehotels.com/tokyo and suirankyoto.com