There’s no such thing as visiting Kyoto or Nara too many times. In recent years, the two cities, located only an hour’s train ride away from one another, have seen a massive change in their landscapes, with one notable change being an increase in accommodation options. There are plenty of new places to see and stay when in the area, including two new FUFU hotels, FUFU Kyoto and FUFU Nara, for those with a penchant for luxury.
These two additions to the FUFU lineup promise nothing short of FUFU’s signature first-class service plus prime access to the history, culture and gastronomy of Kyoto and Nara. Both hotels are accessible via public transport or short taxi rides, and are located just a short walk away from major attractions.
Summer and fall are both great seasons to visit the area. Below is only a brief summary of what a three-day stay in Kansai could look like with one night at FUFU Kyoto followed by a second night at FUFU Nara for a well-rounded and culturally rich holiday.
Get to Know the Real Kyoto: FUFU Kyoto
FUFU Kyoto is located in the city’s Nanzenji area, also often referred to as “Uptown Kyoto” because of its rich historical significance and architecture. Notable attractions in the neighborhood include Nanzenji Temple, The National Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto, the Kyoto City Kyocera Museum of Art and a few small galleries.
As with their Hakone locations, FUFU Kyoto pulled inspiration from this area of Kyoto for its interior decor. The hallways leading to the guest rooms are decorated with traditional flower arrangements, and, leading to the first floor’s rooms, hangs a gorgeous silk tapestry made from Kyoto silk using a specific dying technique.
Wood is a major component of the hotel’s interior design and follows guests into their very own bathrooms. Each room is equipped with a hinoki (Japanese cypress) bath with running all-natural onsen water. Hinoki is known for its relaxing fragrance, but the tree also has great significance in Japan, as it is often the preferred wood for Shinto rituals.
One of FUFU Kyoto’s biggest selling points, however, is its Japanese garden. Behind the hotel is home to thriving fauna and flora. A pond, filled with water from Lake Biwa is home to a number of koi fish. Select rooms of the hotel look out on the garden as well as the nearby Mount Higashi.
In the very corner of the garden, you’ll find a detached house, Yae Hitoe, which hosts a series of cultural events for guests to enjoy. From tea ceremonies to private yoga lessons, this is your chance to deepen your knowledge of traditional Japanese culture. Yae Hitoe doubles are the hotel’s malt bar in the evening, where guests can sip on original whiskey as well as matcha-infused cocktails. Select activities are offered with English language support, though guests should confirm with the hotel before booking.
Another way to enjoy a view of the garden is to enjoy breakfast at the hotel restaurant, Ioto, The establishment offers nourishing meals made with Kyoto-sourced ingredients and vegetables. Guests can choose to have their breakfast at the restaurant or in the privacy of their guest rooms. In the evening, enjoy a range of savory dishes cooked on Ioto’s charcoal grill you can pair with your preferred wine or sake.
FUFU Kyoto also allows guests to book packages that do not include breakfast or dinner, leaving them open to explore the restaurant options around the city. The hotel staff can recommend restaurants and help arrange bookings upon request. Think of FUFU Kyoto as a base for your next trip to the city, whether you’re staying one night or three.
Explore the Park Like Never Before: FUFU Nara
FUFU Nara took Japan by storm when it opened in 2020. As the first resort hotel built on the premise of the ever-popular Nara Park, FUFU Resorts had a lot of pressure to deliver quality service, all the while throwing an homage to the ancient city. The luxury resort is located about an hour south of Kyoto by train and a mere 15-minute walk from Todaiji with direct access to other sightseeing spots as well.
The homage to Nara’s rich history starts at the hotel’s striking exterior. World-renown architect Kengo Kuma oversaw the overall architecture of the hotel. Aligning with other recent works, the hotel uses Japanese cedar (Yamato-bari) wood as part of its design. About his work on FUFU Nara, Kuma says, “The human scale of the Japanese roof tiles in harmony with the deep forest, the shadows created by the [wood] and the old and new gardens full of natural beauty, all of which are rooted in Nara’s historical climate.”
Guests have ample choice when it comes to guest rooms: Some rooms on the ground floor have tatami spaces for lounging, while others on the second floor have high ceilings. All rooms, however, are equipped with an outdoor natural hot spring bath. One of FUFU Nara’s unique aspects is its focus on aromatherapy, inspired by Nara’s history as the birthplace of Japanese medicine. Each party of guests is gifted a pack of herbs they can place in their baths an hour or so before dipping in.
Do also keep an eye out for one-of-a-kind art throughout the hotel. In each guest room, there are small sculptures made from Nara iron representing one significant object from Nara Park’s top attractions.
Located just past the lobby’s waiting area is the hotel bar. The lineup of available liquor and liqueur is vast and will suit the taste of any guest. Though while in Nara, we recommend tasting one of the hotel’s original cocktails that feature Nara-made craft gin and nihonshu as their key ingredients.
The hotel restaurant, Tekisui, is located a short walk from the main building, right by Yugayama-enchi Garden. Tekisui is a little bit special: In addition to breakfast and dinner, guests and passersby can enjoy a healthy lunch or sign up for one of the afternoon tea packages. On the menu are traditional Japanese dishes, all made with a myriad of delicious, fresh and healthy ingredients sourced locally. Guests can also enjoy an authentic teppanyaki experience. And, we should add, there’s nothing better than going on a walk afterward and encountering deer in the wild.
41 Nanzenjikusagawa-cho, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto City, Kyoto Prefecture
1184-1 Takabatake-cho, Nara City, Nara Prefecture
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Photos by Lisa Knight