Roku Kyoto, LXR Hotels & Resorts review

Japan’s capital for over 1,000 years, Kyoto is beloved worldwide for its awe-inspiring UNESCO-inscribed shrines and temples, time-honored rituals and breathtaking landscapes — especially in spring and fall.

Kyoto’s hotel scene brims with characterful properties that channel a quiet, discreet kind of luxury and highlight exquisite craftsmanship over swanky finishes and maximalist design statements. Behind latticed cedar facades, you’ll find intimate ryokan inns that house Michelin-star restaurants, palatial retreats nestled among centuries-old gardens and exclusive villas that meld Kyoto’s contemporary flair with its rich cultural heritage.

Of the dozens of hotels and lodgings that have debuted in the city over the last few years, Roku Kyoto, part of Hilton’s LXR Hotels & Resorts, was one of the most anticipated. On paper, each LXR property is meant to combine elegance with a unique aesthetic that reflects each hotel’s singular history and surroundings.

However, with just 12 properties that range from the stately The Biltmore Mayfair in London to the breezy island chic of Zemi Beach House in Anguilla and Santa Monica’s Hotel Oceana, the LXR imprint has remained somewhat hard to pin down since its inception in 2018. However, with rates that soar to more than $1,000 per night at many of its outposts, guests can’t help but have high expectations when booking one of these hotels.

Among the slew of legendary and locally inspired hotels to choose from in Kyoto, how would Roku Kyoto stand out from the crowd? What’s more, where would it sit along the spectrum of Hilton’s other upscale labels like, Waldorf Astoria and Conrad, with their well-honed experience and brand standards?

Here’s what you need to know before booking a stay at Roku Kyoto, LXR Hotels & Resorts.

Getting there

Roku Kyoto, LXR Hotels & Resorts, is in a secluded area about a 25-minute drive north of Kyoto’s central downtown area and main train station. Encircled by the Takagamine mountains and built alongside the Tenjin River, the lush setting is picturesque and idyllic. However, it does feel far removed from the action, especially for travelers making their first trip to Kyoto and for whom walkability is a priority.

If you are arriving at Kyoto Station — via the Shinkansen from Tokyo, which takes around two hours and 15 minutes, or the 80-minute Haruka express train from Osaka’s Kansai International Airport (KIX) — a taxi will cost you between 4,500 and 5,000 yen ($26 to $30). To taxi from the hotel to major sites like Nijo Castle, Gion and the Kiyomezu temple, it will cost between 2,200 and 3,000 yen ($13 to $18) each way and take about 20 minutes.

There is no easy public transit access (the nearest train stop is a 17-minute walk away), so you will likely rely on taxis to get to and from the city.

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Rates at Roku Kyoto vary wildly from around $560 on random days in February to well over $1,300 per night during cherry blossom season and peak fall leaf season in late November. However, LXR properties participate in the Hilton Honors awards program, and there is generally excellent award availability with redemptions starting at 110,000 points per night (award nights are currently plentiful for peak dates in March and April 2024). For my late-November stay, TPG redeemed 110,000 points per night as cash rates were sky-high for my select dates ($1,635).

Hilton Diamond members receive excellent perks here: a room upgrade (when available); 15,000 yen ($100) of experience credits, which can be used in the restaurants and spa; complimentary breakfast for two guests; and early and late check-in (where available).

Standout features

  • The mountainous area surrounding the hotel is beautiful. After jockeying with crowds surrounding Kyoto’s main sights, it feels like a calming retreat — strolling through the Japanese gardens and little-visited temples nearby were among the highlights of my eight-day Japan trip.
  • Relaxing in the large onsen swimming pool overlooking serene gardens, which were stunning in fall, is a quintessential Kyoto experience.
  • Original Japanese arts, crafts and design elements in the lobby — including ikebana arrangements and artful topiary — take inspiration from the artists’ colony founded here during the Edo period.
  • Guest room decor stays true to a traditional, pared-down Japanese aesthetic with gray granite tiles in the shower, blond wooden furnishings and floors, and walls of glass that blend the interior with the outdoors.
  • The private springwater onsen overlooking a small walled garden in my Garden View Deluxe room was one of the better Diamond status upgrades I’ve ever received.
  • From the positioning of the power outlets and lighting console to the harmonious use of space and thoughtful amenities, everything in the room was intuitively placed.


  • Staff didn’t really attempt to get to know guests personally; there was none of the “yes factor” that really distinguishes a memorable, high-end stay.
  • For a luxury hotel in this price category, the overall dining experience was disappointing, especially compared to the quality, diversity and service of more moderately priced hotels that I stayed at in Japan on this trip; the breakfast buffet was limited, service in the main restaurant was at times chaotic, and several dishes were downright mediocre.
  • There were no inviting indoor public spaces that encouraged guests to mingle, socialize, have a drink or snack, or just feel connected to the staff and fellow travelers.
  • Rates vary considerably depending on the season, and there are more luxurious options in this price category.
  • The service was, at times, abrupt and distant, and there were strict advanced reservation protocols for some of the amenities. So, there were moments when staying here felt more like an exercise in patience and discipline than a vacation.

The vibe

The hotel’s discreet entranceway and unassuming lobby area set the tone for a hushed kind of luxury that channels the minimalist aesthetic of a traditional, tucked-away Japanese ryokan. Hilton loyalists accustomed to the sheen of a Waldorf Astoria or the cool sophistication of a Conrad should expect a more understated experience here.

Built on the site of a 400-year-old artists’ colony established by revered Edo period craftsman Hon’ami Koetsu, the hotel walls and alcoves are graced with traditional Japanese artworks and crafts; a feature wall in the lobby features Japanese urushi lacquer, and in the guest rooms and suites, walls are decorated with karakami woodblock patterns printed on washi paper.

External walkways connect the 114 guest rooms and suites to both Tenjin (the main dining room) and a pitched-roof teahouse. At the teahouse, wraparound glass walls frame views of the Takagamine mountains, which were ablaze with red, orange and brown leaves during my fall visit. A series of Zen reflection pools leads to stunning gardens planted with Japanese maple and cherry trees, and a large thermal swimming pool provides a rejuvenating vantage point.

The room


There are those times when hotel loyalty program status is meaningful and immensely influences initial perceptions of the hotel. With Diamond Hilton status (which I achieved through earning 120,000 base points in spending in one year), I was upgraded to a Garden Deluxe View room with a private onsen and a separate seating area with sliding glass doors that opened up to a walled garden.

At Roku Kyoto, there are five room types to choose from, many with views of the Takagamine mountains. Unless you splurge on a Peak Suite King (1,097 square feet), which has a separate living area and prime views, rooms are not huge, but they are designed to maximize space and functionality.

Base level rooms (Deluxe King Room) start at 538 square feet while Garden View Deluxe Rooms (like mine, pictured above) on the ground floor are similar in size and design but have an additional 182 square feet of space to accommodate the additional seating area and onsen. Without that extra space, I suspect I would have felt the room to be too compact and, without the garden, bordering on austere.

Rooms across all categories radiate light and calm rather than opulence and indulgence. Traditional Japanese elements (a neutral color palette, latticework embellishments, wood in its raw form, unadorned walls, rough-hewn textures and sliding doors) meld with contemporary amenities and tech-forward features, including some of the most intuitive light controls I’ve experienced.

Beds were extremely comfortable, dressed with just two pillows, crisp white sheets and light duvets. There was a bedside table on either side of each twin bed as well as in between, which provided plenty of space to charge devices as well as organize reading materials and tea trays.

There was a supply of outlets and USB ports by each bed, as well as outlets in the bathrooms and some along the walls. The light switches were well-labeled and the overall functionality of the space was excellent.

A custom-designed tea cabinet housed a traditional Japanese tea set, Nespresso coffee maker and, below, a minibar was well-stocked with a selection of top-shelf liquors, wine, sake and soft drinks. There was a large closet to the left of the entryway with a steamer, iron, plush robes (as well as two traditional yukatas), pajamas, slippers, and plenty of hangers and storage.

A wall, where the large flat-screen TV was mounted, divided the main bedroom from the bathroom, with two sliding doors at either end. The two separate vanities were positioned on either side of the granite tiled walk-in shower with a handheld as well as a rainforest shower head. Just off the small entry corridor was the large traditional Japanese WC (with a heated, sensor-activated seat and flush control panel) and a separate wash basin.

Food and drink

For Hilton Honors members with Diamond status, breakfast (including the buffet and a la carte options) is included at the hotel’s main restaurant, Tenjin. The glass-walled space is set alongside the river of the same name that runs through the property, and whose banks are lined with cherry and maple trees, providing an extremely picturesque setting.


Compared to most luxury hotels in this price category — and the half-dozen other hotel breakfast buffets that I experienced in Japan — the offerings at Tenjin were limited. Guests looking to fuel up for a day of sightseeing could be disappointed.

As with many aspects of this property, you need to get familiar with the dining protocols. Breakfast is technically served from 7 a.m. until 10:30 a.m. However, we were told at 10:02 a.m. one morning that we had missed the last call for a la carte items (10 a.m.) and the buffet was hastily removed at 10:15 a.m.

There were just two stations, one with a selection of fruit, vegetables and smoked fish, and the other with three different bread options and a toaster. The Western-style a la carte option I tried (a green omelet) was uninspired in both flavor and presentation. The Japanese fish plate, though, was excellent and artfully presented, with smoked mackerel, tamago, rice, miso soup and pickled vegetables.

For dinner, there are two options on the property: Chef’s Table (which needs to be reserved three days in advance, no exceptions) and Tenjin, the French-Japanese fusion restaurant (where breakfast and lunch are also served).

The Chef’s Table is a separate counter space within Tenjin and offers a prix-fixe seasonal tasting menu (34,420 yen, or $277 per person, including wine pairings), which starts at 6:30 p.m. Tenjin also serves a five-course prix-fixe menu for 17,000 yen ($115) without wine pairings, but the same menu items can be ordered a la carte.

The hotel was at capacity during our stay, and the restaurant staff seemed overwhelmed at times. They also appeared to be thrown off by our decision to order from the a la carte menu rather than the prix fixe; all other diners seated near us had opted for prix fixe and were served in a highly choreographed fashion. Our drinks, starters and mains arrived completely out of sync, and then the check was abruptly delivered with the straggling steak entree just 45 minutes after we’d been seated.

The food was enjoyable, but not one dish was truly exceptional and, ultimately, the entire experience was anticlimactic. The appetizer of scallops with kidney beans and jamon serrano (3,500 yen, or $23) was very rich, but the French-Japanese flavor fusion was offbeat at best. We also tried a juicy Japanese beef tenderloin with Japanese pepper (7,500 yen, or $51), Norwegian salmon (4,200 yen, or $28.50) that came out overcooked and a crisp glass of Quinta Apolonia white wine (2,214 yen, or $15).

The bar area tucked away at the far side of the restaurant felt like an afterthought rather than a true destination where you could relax, enjoy the ambience and socialize with other guests. It served such craft cocktails as a Japanese pear Cosmopolitan (2,400 yen, or $16) accompanied by bar staples like stacked Wagyu patty cheeseburger (4,807 yen, or $32) and a bland spaghetti pescatore with just a couple of scallops (3,036 yen, or $20).


The hotel’s outstanding feature was its large onsen thermal swimming pool overlooking the gardens, which draws hot spring waters from the Shozan Resort complex next door. The downside for families, though, is that guests must be 16 years and older to use the spa facilities, which includes the pool, and spontaneous visits are practically impossible since reservations and a signed waiver are required in advance.

Surrounding the pool, there were a half-dozen loungers. At check-in, I immediately reserved an onsen visit for 9 a.m. each morning of my stay, and I didn’t have any problems with availability. I wasn’t given any time limit for my first visit, but I was told that a 30-minute maximum limit would apply to any subsequent visit.

I didn’t have time to use the spa during my visit, but the space was serene, offering a range of treatments rooted in traditional Japanese healing techniques and therapies. The signature Tenjingawa stone massage (26,000 yen or $176 for 60 minutes, or 37,571 yen or $255 for 90 minutes) uses warm stones to purportedly channel the energy of the Tenjin River. It begins with a purification ritual to eliminate stress. The Balancing Elements Healing Facial (60 minutes for 25,047 yen or $170, or 75 minutes for 30,613 yen or $208) incorporates organic botanicals.

With floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the gardens, the 24-hour fitness center was impressively equipped with several treadmills, an elliptical, bike, and an array of weight machines and free weights.

For travelers looking for more first-hand experience of Japanese arts and crafts, the concierge can arrange (on-property) bespoke workshops, classes, ceremonies and activities; some options include practicing washi paper making (20,000 yen, or $136 for two hours) or dabbling in the art of porcelain production (26,000 yen or $176 for two hours).

Out and about


The area immediately surrounding the hotel is a stunning place to stroll for an hour or two. There’s a picturesque creek lined with maple and cherry blossom trees, a serene Japanese garden just a five-minute walk away, several small galleries and workshops. There are also a couple of lesser-known Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines — all without the throngs of crowds you will experience in the Higashiyama-ku and Shimogyo-ku wards, where most of Kyoto’s tourist activity is centered. This hotel is also an 18-minute walk from the golden Kinkakuji Temple.

The hotel specifies at check-in (along with a list of other protocols) that guests should book taxis 15 minutes in advance rather than show up to the entrance and ask for one. We did so, and our average wait times were around 10 minutes.



From contemporary takes on ryokans to big-name, buzzy hotel brands, there are plenty of options for all kinds of travelers and budgets in Kyoto.

The swanky Park Hyatt Kyoto is ideally located at the heart of the Higashiyama ward and combines modern luxury with an embrace of Kyoto’s ancient traditions. It also offers suburb French-inspired teppanyaki dining at Yasaka and a convivial bar, Kohaku, where craft cocktails are served with classic Kyoto views; rates start from $1,273 or 35,000-45,000 World of Hyatt points per night, making it a great option for World of Hyatt loyalists.

Related: Best Park Hyatt hotels, according to Globalists

The ultra-luxurious Aman, located just a stone’s throw from Roku Kyoto, is the city’s most exclusive address. Just 26 exquisite rooms sprinkled amid 79 acres of lush gardens marry luxe comforts and tech-forward amenities with the artful minimalism of a traditional ryokan. As you’d expect of the Aman brand, everything is next level, including the omakase menu at Taka-An — one of Kyoto’s most coveted experiences — and the warm, discreet service where you’ll never hear “no.” Rates start at $2,300 per night.

Four Seasons‘ Kyoto outpost offers all the familiar swanky finishes, high-touch service, culinary excellence and family-friendly amenities that made it TPG readers’ favorite luxury brand at the TPG Awards this year. Set around an 800-year-old pond garden in the Higashiyama ward, its beautifully designed rooms feature traditional Japanese elements like washi-paper lamps, fusuma screens and urushi lacquerware. There’s also a large indoor pool, a lavish spa, daily activities for kids and a large fitness center. Rates start at $900 per night.

For more budget-minded travelers, Hilton’s brand-new Doubletree is a convenient, good-value hotel close to Kyoto station (a 23-minute walk or six-minute drive) and many of the main tourist sights. (Kiyomizu Temple and the Kyoto National Museum are less than a mile away.) Rooms start at a compact 270 square feet but feature a minimalist Japanese aesthetic with blond-wood furnishings, soft lighting and traditional tatami elements. There’s also an all-day restaurant and lobby bar on-site inspired by local design and culinary traditions. Rates start from $128 or 38,000 Hilton Honors points per night.



As more of a full-blown resort rather than a city hotel, Roku Kyoto’s design lends itself well to travelers with accessibility needs. Rambling open spaces and exterior walkways help guests get around the property in a wheelchair. There is a ramp to access the main building and accessible routes to reach all the main areas of the hotel from the lobby, including the swimming pool, restaurants, fitness center and spa. The swimming pool is also accessible, and hallways and elevators are equipped with visual alarms, audible alerts and braille.

All rooms are considered accessible and are equipped with 32-inch-wide bedroom doors, grab rails in the toilet and a roll-in shower. There are also accessible parking spaces in the self-park facility.

As with any hotel, it’s always advisable for guests with accessibility needs to reach out to the hotel before their stay to confirm the availability of specific features.

Checking out

The most impressive features of Roku Kyoto are undoubtedly its striking design, mountain setting and resort-style amenities, including the large heated swimming pool, spa, fitness center and manicured gardens. While it’s quite a distance from most of Kyoto’s main sights, this property has many appealing attributes as a bookend for a longer trip.

Hilton loyalists accustomed to the warm and fuzzy hospitality of the Waldorf (or most luxury hotels in this price category) — where staff preempts guests’ individual needs and no request is too much — will be disappointed. Even structurally, with check-in desks that face away from the main entranceway and a lack of convivial public spaces, the property seems to cultivate anonymity rather than connection.

Since the location makes traveling back and forth to Kyoto a challenge, foodie-driven travelers should opt to stay in closer proximity to Kyoto’s revered Michelin-starred restaurants. Or, they should choose one of the many luxury hotels and traditional ryokans that offer a more elevated kaiseki experience.

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