First Impressions of Kyoto

This is my view as I’m writing this. The photo does not do it justice. And we can only capture one section of it (photo tips welcome). There is a zoo directly below and five elephants rambling by not 700 metres away. Dozens of temples. And too many gorgeous green hills in the near distance to count.

Aside from the Japanese writing everywhere, Tokyo could have (almost) been any other large city with a temple thrown in every few blocks. In Kyoto… I feel like I am in a different country. Completely. This is what I’ve been waiting for… distant lands.

Hotel Lounges are Awesome

My view is from the library at the Westin Miyako Kyoto where I’m enjoying a glass of wine along with the view. Complimentary of course.

Rob has gone off hunting with Hannah. They are in search of dinner. Preferably something affordable. The hotel restaurants look intriguing but we’re turned away by the 3,900 yen prices.

Though don’t tell them someone just delivered a tray of appetizers with four lovely samplers. The hostess told me what they were but I politely bowed and pretended I could understand what she said rather than ask her to repeat. Each was delicious but mostly unknown, aside from the pieces of pork (unknown I mean, it was all delicious).

I want Rob and Hannah to arrive. They need to enjoy this view as well. Especially before the elephants go back to where we couldn’t see them before.

I haven’t actually taken the photo that I hope is now above.

Lazy Travellers

We spent our first evening in Kyoto settling into our room. It was a full day of travel after all… Tokyo hotel shuttle to the subway station, subway to Haneda airport. flight from Haneda airport to Osaka airport, airport limousine to Kyoto subway station, hotel shuttle to our Kyoto hotel.  Seven hours door to door perhaps.

Of course those seven hours were really just an adventure because everything is novel. Figuring out the ‘wheres’ and ‘whens’ of each leg of transport is fun, especially for Ben who gets to feed all the yen into various machines. He especially likes to distribute the tickets. I’m pretty sure this novelty is not going to last very long and soon we’ll despise travel days.

Westin Miyako Kyoto – A Family Friendly Hotel

The Westin Miyako Kyoto is a bit shabby but I would so stay here again. Our room is huge and has a separate sitting room and a large walk-in closet. This is excellent since the five of us are sharing a room. (There’s already been a kit explosion  in the closet. Or is that a ‘kid’ explosion?)

I contacted at least a dozen hotels when I was planning our Tokyo and Kyoto nights. The Westin Kyoto was the only one who allowed us to share a room. They don’t add a surcharge for children under eighteen. And they even provided a roll-away bed for no extra charge. I’m not exaggerating when I say this is a tremendous deal for Japan. Most hotels (all the ones I contacted) have a base rate for one person. And each additional guest (even the second one) costs more. With two paying adults, children under six are often free, but not older kids. So room rates add up super fast. AirBnB and VRBO rentals also do the same the thing. Extremely annoying. And what a racket.

We felt more welcomed at the Westin Kyoto than at any other hotel. Though I felt like I was in Goldilocks and the Five Bears. There were five of everything, each perfectly sized. There were five bathrobes. Five towels and five face cloths. Five sets of slippers. Five little bottles of each toiletry item lined up like soldiers on the vanity. You get the idea. Even five sets of pyjamas and five night coats. Yeah, pyjamas! How awesome is that.

We also received five cards for lounge access. Though we’re supposed to keep that secret. Breakfast, afternoon tea and evening drinks and appetizers are included with the lounge access. Breakfast options are full buffet in the main restaurant, a smaller hot breakfast in the lounge or a set plate in the Japanese restaurant.

We loved our stay at the Sheraton Miyako in Tokyo and were lamenting that the Westin in Kyoto wouldn’t be able to top it. But they did, which is pretty cool considering they are in sore need of an update.

I highly recommend both of these hotels.

Tune in tomorrow when I reveal that our five night hotel stays in both Tokyo and Kyoto cost us ZERO dollars. Oh damn, I just spoiled it.

Well, come back anyway, okay?


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