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Review: HOTEL THE MITSUI KYOTO, Marriott’s Luxury Collection (2023) [Japan]
After visiting Hiroshima, I head down to Kyoto and would be staying at the Hotel The Mitsui Kyoto. I’ve been very much looking forward to this stay since I wanted to do something special for my 29th birthday. I was very glad to choose this hotel, and I’ll be glad to show you how amazing this property was!
Hotel The Mitsui Kyoto is a part of Marriott’s Luxury Collection which signifies its historical importance as the hotel’s grounds used to be the residence of the Mitsui family, a very influential group in Japan that’s still involved in businesses both inside Japan and globally.
HOTEL THE MITSUI KYOTO- Booking
I booked 5 nights at the Mitsui with my Marriott Bonvoy points. I originally wanted to stay at the Ritz-Carlton Kyoto instead, but the Mitsui came with a deal with PointSavers rate for all the 5 nights. Each night would cost 70,400 points/night compared to Ritz-Carlton Kyoto’s 89,000 points/night. After discovering that deal, I immediately switched to the Mitsui. With the fifth night free, I effectively paid 56,320 points per night! Also, the Mitsui tends to have PointSavers rate unlike the Ritz Carlton.
From what I’ve read from previous guests’ opinions, both the Mitsui and Ritz-Carlton Kyoto would get compared quite often, and there are polarizing opinions on which property is superior. From my thinking, even if the Ritz-Carlton Kyoto is better, I don’t think it would be worth paying 70k+ points more for a marginally better product. However, I’d love to try out the Ritz-Carlton Kyoto one day to compare for myself!
HOTEL THE MITSUI KYOTO- Location
The hotel is centrally located with the front of the hotel being the Nijo Castle. The hotel’s also located right next to the ANA Crowne Plaza Kyoto. It’s in a quieter part of Kyoto, but there are subway and bus lines nearby to get around Kyoto easily.
I arrived to Kyoto from Kyoto Station and used the Karasuma Line to stop at Karasuma Oike Station and then transfer to the Tozai Line and arrive at Nijo-jo-mae Station. The closest exit to the hotel is Exit #2 in Nijo-jo-mae, which will have signs with HOTEL THE MITSUI name on it.
HOTEL THE MITSUI KYOTO- Check-in
I arrived in blazing hot Kyoto at around 4pm, just the right time to check-in. I cut through the ANA Crowne Plaza’s entrance to get to Mitsui’s iconic front gate.
The gate makes you feel like you’re about to enter sacred grounds. I was then approached by the door attendant who carried all my stuff to my room, and I was escorted into the lobby to begin the check-in process.
The lobby ground is gorgeous, and it’s a design by Andre Fu who also designed some luxury properties in Asia. A sense of traditional and modernity blend in a very pleasant way.
I checked in with a staff wearing a gorgeous kimono. She was very courteous in closing the curtains without my asking since the sun caused too much glare on my arrival.
I was given a welcome tea on my arrival. The check-in process was very personal, and I was informed that I’d be upgraded to the Garden Suite for my birthday! It was a last minute upgrade that I didn’t think I’d get, so I was very thrilled about it. It’s the 3rd highest suite category below the Nijo Suite and the Presidential Suite.
After that, I chose free breakfast as the welcome gift as a Titanium Elite. Breakfast would be served daily at Forni on the lobby floor just after the covered walkway. I was then escorted by the lady in kimono to my suite.
HOTEL THE MITSUI KYOTO- Garden Suite
The Garden Suite is positioned at Room 411 on the far left corner of the property. The design on the hallways are just very clean and immaculate.
Garden Suite Living Room
I was WOW’d by the size of the suite. The view from the living room includes the beautiful Japanese Garden with an entrance of the Nijo Castle across the street to the left. The Garden Suite is sized at 97 sqm (1044 sqft).
It’s really amazing how the hotel feels historic but modern at the same time that it does not feel stuffy at all compared to a typical St. Regis or a Ritz-Carlton.
For my birthday, I was given a Happy Birthday note and some sweet treats of mochi and cookies!
There are some high-end drinks served in the room.
By the entrance are the shoe storage with an umbrella prepared next to it. The umbrella was greatly appreciated in the scorching summer of Kyoto.
Half bathroom with a motion-sensor equipped toilet that opens its lid automatically as your approach it (and close down by itself once you flush). A toilet that’s smarter than the standard Japanese toilet!
Garden Suite Bedroom
The most handy feature of the TV is the tracking of how busy the public Thermal Spring is. I’ve always referenced this before calling the spa receptionist to get into the spa.
The windows provide ample space to sit to admire the garden while you lean yourself against the window.
Night view is quite pretty with all the lights, but I was a bit sad that my phone camera couldn’t capture night settings nicely.
Power room was quite large and offered generous storage spaces.
The door attendant who grabbed my stuff to put in my room noticed my Pochita plush from Chainsaw Man that I won from a claw game machine. He seemed to be fond of it, so he set the plush in an adorable way by sticking it out.
Garden Suite Bathroom
Bathroom was fully marbled, and the gray goes well with the brown Japanese furniture.
Bathroom necessities were provided.
Shower pressure was excellent; comparable to the one in Conrad Osaka.
Bath amenities are exclusively made for the hotel by Parfum Satori.
The toilet room is to the right of the bathroom sinks, and is similar to the one found on the half bathroom by the entrance.
This is truly one of the best suites I’ve been upgraded to, and I’m very grateful that it did happen to me.
Evening Turndown Service
Evening turndown service is somewhat unique at the Mitsui compared to other luxury hotels I’ve been to. The pajamas, slippers, and water bottles prepared around the bedside are typical.
But, the Mitsui adds a little extra gift compared to the typical chocolates. During my 5 night stay, I received 3 unique additions in the following order:
- Matcha lip balm
- Skin care matcha face mask
After the face mask, it repeats back to the matcha lip balm.
They were nice extra touches that was different from what I expected from a turndown service!
HOTEL THE MITSUI KYOTO- Breakfast
Breakfast at Hotel The Mitsui Kyoto is located in Forni, the hotel’s Italian restaurant. You may choose to opt for in-room breakfast, but there will be a surcharge even for elite members.
Some of the seats offer a direct view of the Garden, but they can be tough to get when it’s busy so make sure to arrive early if you’d like the garden view.
Breakfast that elite members get are the set menu of American, Japanese, or Vegan breakfasts. Plus, there’s a buffet on the back of the restaurants that guests can indulge in.
To start off with the breakfast, I was offered my choices of drinks plus the daily smoothie.
For the main course, obviously I picked the Japanese set since I’m in Japan. The bento box was overall good, but if I’d pick the type of fish I’d get, I would pick either the miso marinated cod fish or the citrus-grilled flounder. The salmon felt basic compared to those two. They’re all very good, but some of the items just didn’t fit with my non-Japanese palate even though I love Japanese food overall.
For the Japanese breakfast, you may choose to have steamed rice or congee (porridge) for the side dish.
I only managed to try one of the American entrees once, and I chose the omelet. Pretty basic, but I always loved how Japanese-style omelet looks.
Jams can accompany the breads you can pick up in the buffet section on the back of the restaurant.
Breakfast buffet spread are pretty much the Continental Breakfast shown on the menu. It’s not as varied as other hotels I went to though.
I particularly liked the pastry section. The croissants were freshly baked, and the salt bread was particularly interesting. My favorite was the Hokkaido milk bread. Very soft and fluffy, and goes great with the in-house jams.
Despite me enjoying the breakfast overall, I felt it was one of the weaker points of the hotel if I would nitpick. To be honest, I might’ve felt fatigued from eating hotel breakfasts this far into the trip and that might’ve influenced my thoughts on them.
HOTEL THE MITSUI KYOTO- Japanese Garden
The Japanese Garden is the centerpiece attraction of the Mitsui. Elegant and tranquil best describe the garden!
Walking by the flowing water on the platforms felt surreal.
You could book an appointment for some breathing exercises in the morning inside the below building for free. I wish I tried it!
Some of the ponds may have some fish swimming around.
HOTEL THE MITSUI KYOTO- Thermal Spring Spa
Here comes the most exciting amenity of the Mitsui that sets it apart from the rest of the luxury hotels bookable with points in Kyoto, which is the Thermal Spring Spa. It’s a free public bath for all the hotel’s guests that open from 6am to 11pm (last entry 10:30pm). The hot spring draws natural spring water from the mountains surrounding Kyoto. You’d need to call the receptionist beforehand to be able to use the Spring, which is easily done in your room. They will then assign you your locker once you arrive.
The path to the Thermal Spring exudes elegance and exclusivity with dark walls accompanied by contrasting bright wooden blocks with water running sounds in the background.
Unlike the traditional onsen, the Thermal Spring Spa isn’t gender-separated, and swimsuits must be worn. Although, if you have tattoos, then you’ll be asked to cover up.
The vibe is magnificent with reflective ceiling and natural rock pillars. I showed my friend what the Thermal Spring looks like, and he described it best… straight out of a John Wick movie.
The Thermal Spring Spa is simply the best luxury hotel amenity that I’ve used! It’s so good that I made sure to visit everyday, and I still think about it long after my stay at the Mitsui. From my stay, it was the most quiet during the very early hours, or in the afternoon while most guests were out exploring Kyoto.
From my perspective, the Thermal Spring was best used in the afternoon, at least in the summer. In the morning, I’d explore Kyoto a bit, and take a break in the hot spring to both rest and hide from the heat when it’s most intense in the afternoon. From there, I resume exploring Kyoto in the evening to nighttime.
Cold sprinkles of water will occasionally be turned on, and the feeling of warmth from the hot spring while being sprinkled with gentle sprinkles of cold water was fantastic! If the warm springs water isn’t enough, there are 2 separate hot tubs with strong jets within the Thermal Spring area.
The spa also have swimsuit dryer machines like many other higher-end hotels in Japan. It makes visiting the thermal spring not a hassle at all!
You can also opt for a private hot springs session, but I didn’t feel it was necessary, especially as a solo traveler, or if you pick the right times to go in which the in-room TV can help track the activity status of the public bath.
HOTEL THE MITSUI KYOTO- Fitness Center
The gym’s hotel is located in the basement floor just before the pathway to the Thermal Spring. It’s equipped with varieties of cardio and weight machines.
HOTEL THE MITSUI KYOTO- Tea Ceremony
There’s a section called Chakyo in the lobby grounds where you can participate in a half hour tea ceremony. The price appears to be 2,500 yen, so it sounds reasonable for a hotel of this calibre. I didn’t get to try it, however. But it looks nice to do after a long day of exploring.
HOTEL THE MITSUI KYOTO is truly an outstanding property that truly defines Kyoto, and it can really compete with other top-tier hotels in the city. The design is masterful that combines both traditional and modernity in a seamless way that makes it very approachable no matter your age or background. The Thermal Spring Spa is one of those luxury hotel amenities that you just can’t get enough once you have a taste for it, and just experiencing it one more time would probably be a very good reason to tempt me into coming back to again.
If I have one nitpick, then it’d probably be the breakfast, since I feel it punches below its weight just slightly. They’re still enjoyable overall, and Japan offers plenty of cheap but very good alternatives if you’re not feeling the hotel breakfast. Regardless, many of the hotel’s positives greatly outweigh my minor complaint about the breakfast. I very much do not regret staying at this hotel, especially for the rates I paid for in points!