Roku Kyoto Sign

Review: Roku Kyoto, LXR Hotels & Resorts (Japan)

 

PositivesNegatives
Serene locationLocation makes it hard to sightsee Kyoto
Stunningly beautiful hotel groundsBreakfast buffet selection is poor
Usable for Aspire Resort creditService is so-so for a high-end luxury hotel
Upgrade chances are high for elite membersThermal Pool not as hot as a typical hot spring pool

Overall Rating

After spending 4 nights in Yokohama, I headed down to Kyoto with a bullet train to check out the Roku Kyoto, a resort with the LXR brand from Hilton. My general purpose of this stay is to have a relaxing stay around the midway of my Japan trip to recharge and getting ready to head down to Kyushu after. I also wanted to compare it with my previous stay at the Hotel The Mitsui Kyoto from Marriott’s Luxury Collection last year. A Marriott vs. Hilton for Kyoto luxury hotel, so to speak.

 

Roku Kyoto- Booking

I booked a 2 night stay with a combination of the Free Night Reward certificate from Amex’s Hilton Honors Aspire Card. The rate for Roku Kyoto is 110,000 Hilton Honors points for the standard room, which I redeemed for the second night.

Roku Kyoto is categorized as a Hilton Resort, so the property credit from the Aspire Card will work at this hotel. On top of that, the more general Hilton credit from the Surpass and Business Card will also work here, allowing for stacking opportunities for property credit when you split payment methods during check-out. I for sure, fully took advantage of them during my stay.

 

Roku KyotoLocation

Roku Kyoto is located in the northern outskirts of Kyoto in Takagamine district surrounded with lush trees on a hilly setting. The closest popular attraction is Kinkaku-ji. Access to the hotel is more difficult, or costly, compared to other competing luxury hotels bookable on points.

From the JR Kyoto Station, the most convenient option would be taking the taxi that would cost around 4,000 Yen. If you’d like to reduce the cost of taxi, you can take a local bus to Kinkaku-ji and take the taxi there. However, I wouldn’t recommend riding local buses in Kyoto with luggages as they get very crowded easily, and to be considerate of other passengers.

While the vicinity of Roku Kyoto is gorgeous, it’s quite inconvenient for sightseeing purposes. Thus, I wouldn’t recommend this property for first-time visitors in Kyoto, and it’s more suited for those looking for a respite away from the city.

 

Roku Kyoto- Check-in

I arrived in Kyoto at around 3pm, and proceeded to take the local bus (way filled with people) from Kyoto Station to Kinkaku-ji. I was comfortable taking the bus due to only having a backpack with me and had my luggage transferred to Nagasaki Marriott from Yokohama

Afterwards, I was lucky to find a local taxi that would take me to Roku for 1000 yen, so I hopped on board. After exiting the cab, I was welcomed by the staff and they’ve insisted that they take my backpack and guided me to the lobby.

Roku Kyoto Entrance Pavilion
Entrance Pavilion

The check-in process was done in a sit-down manner. While waiting, I was given a cup of hot tea before a staff briefed me in.

I’ve asked for the onsen room upgrade beforehand in the Hilton chat app, and they’ve told me to wait until I’m present during check-in. I was informed that they ran out of King Onsen Garden Rooms, but asked if I’d be okay with being upgraded to the Twin Onsen instead, which I happily accepted.

I was then given a rundown about the properties, and introduced one of the biggest benefits of being a Hilton Diamond, the Experience Credit, which I’ll explain more down later.

The staff was nice and courteous, but seemed to have massive language barrier that I would less expected from a property of this caliber. I just kept nodding, and thankfully I got most of the gist of the hotel’s features with the papers given. Frankly, I enjoy exploring on my own anyway.

Roku Kyoto Lobby
Lobby

 

Roku Kyoto- Onsen Garden Room Twin

All rooms in Roku Kyoto are 50sqm in interior space, and all rooms with private onsen are located on the first floor. There’s plenty of them in fact at this property, so upgrade chances quite good.

Roku Kyoto Rooms Hallway
Rooms Hallway
Roku Kyoto Onsen Garden Room Twin
Onsen Garden Room Twin

Just by the entrance is the storage space for your luggage, and where the bathrobes, slippers, pajamas, and safe are located.

Roku Kyoto Onsen Garden Room Closet
Onsen Garden Room Closet
Roku Kyoto Bathrobes
Bathrobes
Roku Kyoto Onsen In-room Pyjamas
Pyjamas

The sandals are prepared for you to use for going on your way to the spa or thermal pool. Slippers are for in-room use only.

Roku Kyoto Sandals
Sandals
Roku Kyoto Slippers
In-room Slippers

Toilet room is on the opposite of the storage room by the entrance.

Roku Kyoto Onsen Garden Room Toilet Room
Toilet Room
Roku Kyoto Onsen Garden Room Twin
Twin Beds
Roku Kyoto Bedside Light Controls
Bedside Light Controls
Roku Kyoto Nightstand
Nightstand

One of the odd things is that the power plugs are located next to just one of the beds. As a solo traveler, I didn’t mind, but I figure it’d be frustrating if there’s someone else tagging along with you. An overlooked basics.

Roku Kyoto Power Plugs
Power Plugs

The other nightstand has a tissue box, clock, and Bluetooth player on it. Power plugs are missing from the cabinet underneath.

Roku Kyoto Nightstand
Roku Kyoto Nightstand

The pantry is within a wooden display box filled with Nespresso machines, tea apparatus, snacks, and alcohol. Below the pantry is the minibar.

Roku Kyoto Onsen Garden Room Pantry
Pantry
Onsen Garden Room Pantry Opened
Pantry Opened
Coffee & Tea
Coffee & Tea
Minibar
Minibar
Glassware
Glassware

Across the beds is the TV. One of the cool functions is that you can check how busy the restaurant, thermal pool, and gym are from the comforts of your room. Otherwise, the TV has Internet function along with local and international channels.

Roku Kyoto Room TV
Room TV
Roku Kyoto TV Thermal Pool Status
TV Thermal Pool Status

 

Bathroom

The main bathroom is behind the wall of the TV, set in a straight line fashion. The sinks are separated into two vanities between the shower section.

Roku Kyoto Bathroom Sink
Roku Kyoto Bathroom Sink
Roku Kyoto Bathroom Sink
Bathroom Sink

Bathroom amenities like dental kits, shaving kits are provided. One thing I’d complain about is how the body lotion smells. The sandalwood scent felt too strong that it felt like I doused myself in frying oil.

Roku Kyoto Bathroom Amenities
Bathroom Amenities
Roku Kyoto Bathroom Amenities by the Sink
Bathroom Amenities by the Sink

Shower pressure is good, but not as good as Conrad Osaka or Hotel the Mitsui Kyoto.

Roku Kyoto Shower
Shower
Roku Kyoto Bath Amenities
Roku Kyoto Bath Amenities

 

Onsen & Garden

To the right of the bathroom is the big onsen tub. The hot spring water is really hot; hotter than the thermal pool. But, you can turn the cold water faucet on to keep it at a comfortable temperature. It fills up pretty quickly.

Roku Kyoto Private Onsen Tub
Private Onsen Tub

During the bath, you could stare at the private garden, or the grey walls inside your room. Bluetooth player is a must, which is provided in the room.

Roku Kyoto Welcome Gift
Roku Kyoto Welcome Gift
Roku Kyoto Onsen Garden Room View
Roku Kyoto Onsen Garden Room View
Garden Room View (Night)
Garden Room View (Night)

Overall, the room’s traditional but modern design is lovely and made for a relaxing atmosphere. The private onsen is cool, but I feel the onsen garden room type gets over-hyped a bit.

The drawback of the onsen room is that they all have a view of a plain wall. Yes, there’s a small garden, but it’s nothing compared to the natural backdrop of lush trees on the hills of Takagamine that you can get on the lower category rooms at the higher floors. Plus, those rooms also have a tub with similar shape, with the exception of them not using natural hot spring water. Most people might not be able to tell the difference anyway, so it could all just be marketing.

In hindsight, I probably would opt for the lesser category rooms like Takagamine or Panorama King for the nature view and the hotel grounds view.

 

Housekeeping

During my stay, the housekeeping unfortunately never came to my room and cleaned up, which was shocking to see since it’s a high-end luxury hotel. I brought it up to the front desk the next day, and after some investigation, they compensated me 10,000 Hilton points. The reason was in the line of human error that could’ve been prevented. I didn’t make a much of a mess anyway, so I wasn’t too upset about it, plus I got some points back.

They did come for evening turndown to place pajamas on the bed and water box on the table. Still, the evening turndown service wasn’t as unique as the one I experienced in Hotel the Mitsui Kyoto where they’d gift me snacks, matcha lip balm, and skin care mask!

Roku Kyoto Evening Turndown Service- Pyjamas
Evening Turndown Service Pyjamas
Roku Kyoto Evening Turndown Service Water Prep
Evening Turndown Service Water Prep & Bluetooth Player

 

Roku Kyoto- Hotel Grounds

One of the most stunning features of Roku Kyoto is its hotel grounds. It consists of curated gardens, water basin area, and the flowing Tenjin River the hotel is built next to. I’ll let the pictures do the talking, but even still, my phone camera doesn’t do it justice.

Front of Roku Kyoto
Front of Roku Kyoto
Front of Roku Kyoto
Front of Roku Kyoto
Roku Kyoto Garden
Roku Kyoto Garden
Roku Kyoto Garden
Roku Kyoto Garden
Roku Kyoto Water Basin
Roku Kyoto Water Basin
Roku Kyoto Water Basin
Roku Kyoto Water Basin
Roku Kyoto Water Basin
Roku Kyoto Water Basin
Roku Kyoto Water Basin
Roku Kyoto Water Basin
Roku Kyoto Water Basin
Roku Kyoto Water Basin
Roku Kyoto Water Basin
Roku Kyoto Water Basin
Roku Kyoto Water Basin
Roku Kyoto Water Basin
Roku Kyoto Water Basin
Roku Kyoto Water Basin
Roku Kyoto Tenjin River View
Roku Kyoto Tenjin River View

I saw this funny bear stuck inside a red telephone box for unknown reasons.

Roku Kyoto Teddy Bear in Red Telephone Box
Roku Kyoto Teddy Bear in Red Telephone Box
Roku Kyoto Water Basin Area at Night
Roku Kyoto Water Basin Area at Night

 

Tea Lounge

Across the lobby is the tea lounge where guests can freely lounge around and make their own cups of tea and/or coffee. Sadly, I didn’t get to spend some time here.

Roku Kyoto Tea Lounge
Roku Kyoto Tea Lounge
Roku Kyoto Tea Lounge
Roku Kyoto Tea Lounge
Roku Kyoto Tea Lounge
Roku Kyoto Tea Lounge

 

Hilton Diamond Experience Credit

Hilton Diamond members would receive Experience Credit at the Roku Kyoto. They would get 10,000 Yen on the first night, and additional 5,000 Yen per subsequent night. Since I was staying for 2 nights, I’d get a total of 15,000 Yen credit total that can be used towards hotel restaurant, spa, in-room dining, minibar, activities, and limo services.

The credit is independent from the credits from credit cards like the Aspire, Surpass, and Business that will apply to the final bill. They’re also not limited to a per-day use, meaning that you can spend all the credit at once on your final day if you’d like.

I opted for the dinner at Tenjin restaurant and a 90-minute massage at the Roku Spa. As a solo traveler, I was able to stretch the Experience Credit and my Hilton credit card credits pretty well! However, if you have a partner, it may be a lure for them to spend more than you need to since the prices in Roku are quite expensive.

Sadly, the Experience Credit will no longer be a benefit for Hilton Diamond if you’ve made your booking after April 1, 2024! Stay after April 1, 2024 will still be eligible as long as the booking’s made before the date.

 

Dinner at Tenjin Restaurant

I spent my hotel credits for dinner at the Tenjin Restaurant, named after the river next to it. It serves French cuisine, and is separated by 2 sections: All Day Dining and Chef’s Table. I reserved the All Day Dining as you seem to not be able to reserve solo for Chef’s Table. At the same time, All Day Dining is also cheaper than Chef’s Table.

Unfortunately, Tenjin, both All Day Dining and Chef’s Table, is excluded from Dine Like A Member Discount (25% off for Hilton Gold & Diamond). Still, the Experience Credit makes up for the lack of discount for my stay at least.

Reservation is a must, or you risk not being able to effectively use up your Experience Credit as dining at the restaurant is one of the few valid uses for it. You may reserve a spot through Tablecheck for both All Day Dining and Chef’s Table.

Roku Kyoto Tenjin Seats
Tenjin Seats

I reserved a spot at around 6pm, which was not filled with many guests, but soon were packed midway through my meal.

Roku Kyoto Tenjin
Tenjin Table

The meal I reserved was the cheapest of the bunch, priced at 17,500 Yen. It’s a fixed dinner course consisting of six items: amuse bouche, appetizer, soup, fish, meat, dessert, and hot tea. I can choose one of the items listed on the menu for the fish, meat, and dessert parts of the course. Some items will be charged extra, shown on the menu.

Roku Kyoto Tenjin Dinner Set Menu
Tenjin Dinner Set Menu
Roku Kyoto
Squid Amuse Bouche
Tenjin Starter
Tuna wrapped in Sesame Seed Appetizer
Tenjin Soup
Soup with Smoked Salmon, Green Asparagus, Tarragone
Tenjin Rockfish
Rockfish & Clam with Sauce Mariniere
Tenjin Veal
Veal Ris de veau
Roku Kyoto Tenjin Strawberry Parfait Millefeuille
Strawberry Parfait Millefeuille
Tenjin Chamomile Tea
Chamomile Tea

Overall , an enjoyable and filling dinner. The presentation in each dish were nice. It was much better that I ate for free thanks to the Experience Credit.

 

Roku Kyoto- Breakfast

Hilton Gold & Diamond members will get free breakfast at the Tenjin Restaurant. Breakfast hours run from 7am to 11am daily, and no reservation is required. I recommend coming as early as 7am as it gets crowded quick. Breakfast is where I have mixed feelings about at Roku Kyoto.

Roku Kyoto Breakfast at Tenjin
Roku Kyoto Breakfast at Tenjin
Roku Kyoto Breakfast at Tenjin
Roku Kyoto Breakfast at Tenjin Seats

The buffet portion consists of salad, side dishes, cold cuts, cereal, and pastries. That’s all. I feel for a hotel at this level should do better than that, especially if they would charge 5,500 Yen for the buffet section alone. Where’s the rice station? Desserts?

Roku Kyoto Breakfast at Tenjin
Roku Kyoto Breakfast at Tenjin
Roku Kyoto Breakfast at Tenjin
Roku Kyoto Breakfast at Tenjin
Roku Kyoto Breakfast at Tenjin
Roku Kyoto Breakfast at Tenjin
Roku Kyoto Breakfast at Tenjin
Roku Kyoto Breakfast at Tenjin

Pastries consist of freshly basked pain au lait, pain au chocolate, croissant, and curry beef bread (kare pan). The curry beef bread is pretty good here though.

Roku Kyoto Breakfast at Tenjin
Roku Kyoto Breakfast at Tenjin

Drinks are mostly homemade fruit juices, and there’s Nespresso machines you can use as well.

Roku Kyoto Breakfast at Tenjin
Roku Kyoto Breakfast at Tenjin Drinks

While the breakfast buffet section feels limited, I expect greater portions on the main dishes you can order from the a la carte menu. You can only order one of the items listed below. Unfortunately, even the a la carte section was underwhelming.

Roku Kyoto Breakfast at Tenjin A la carte menu
Roku Kyoto Breakfast at Tenjin A la carte menu
Roku Kyoto Breakfast at Tenjin Cappuccino
Roku Kyoto Breakfast at Tenjin Cappuccino

After ordering the Kyoto duck egg, I felt disappointed in how small the portion was, and how the presentation looked.

Roku Kyoto Breakfast at Tenjin Kyoto Duck Egg with Bone-in Sausage
Roku Kyoto Breakfast at Tenjin Kyoto Duck Egg with Bone-in Sausage

Even the Japanese set isn’t as filling as the one I had in Hotel the Mitsui Kyoto and InterContinental Yokohama Pier 8.

Roku Kyoto Breakfast at Tenjin Japanese Breakfast
Roku Kyoto Breakfast at Tenjin Japanese Breakfast

Hotel breakfast at luxury hotels tend to go for the buffet or a set menu model. Some hotels do both, but they either have stronger offerings on the buffet section with simpler a la carte menu, or a strong set menu with weaker buffet selection. Unfortunately, Roku Kyoto is a bit weak on both, and I encourage the hotel to focus on one of them and strengthen it. Thankfully, I got breakfast for free, otherwise, this breakfast is not worth the price it charge for.

 

Roku Kyoto- Thermal Pool

Roku’s main amenity is its outdoor thermal pool. Reservation’s not needed, except for the weekends and holidays. Pool hours are 8am to 9pm daily. Check your in-room TV for congestion status.

The pool area is beautiful, and is a cool spot to hang around. Sadly, I didn’t get to try it out at night since I bet it’d look really great looking at the stars.While they state that the water is 38C (100F), it did not feel as hot when I tried the pool for 2 days straight, though it’s supposed to adjust temperature based on weather conditions.

Roku Kyoto Thermal Pool
Thermal Pool

There are additional safari chair seats on the field side of the pool.

Roku Kyoto Thermal Pool
Roku Kyoto Thermal Pool
Roku Kyoto Thermal Pool
Roku Kyoto Thermal Pool
Roku Kyoto Thermal Pool
Roku Kyoto Thermal Pool

Drinks, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic, can be ordered by the pool. The problem is, there’s barely any pool attendants on site. They’d only appear when new guests come in to the pool, so you’d most likely have to come in to the spa reception to order drinks which is awkward and does not feel luxurious. Plus, the drinks are just off the shelf stuff which further cheapens the service, so I didn’t feel like getting anything. So yeah, don’t expect a Vegas pool party vibe in here.

Roku Kyoto Thermal Pool Alcoholic Drinks Menu
Roku Kyoto Thermal Pool Alcoholic Drinks Menu
Roku Kyoto Thermal Pool Drinks Menu
Roku Kyoto Thermal Pool Drinks Menu
Roku Kyoto Pool Bar
Roku Kyoto Empty Pool Bar

You may borrow paddle boards to use in the pool.

Roku Kyoto Thermal Pool Paddle Boards & Towels
Roku Kyoto Thermal Pool Paddle Boards & Towels

Next to the paddle board station is the sauna room.

Roku Kyoto Sauna Room
Roku Kyoto Sauna Room

Changing room is located next to the sauna rooms that include lockers, showers, toilets, and swimsuit dryer machines that most fancy hotels in Japan have.

Roku Kyoto Men's Locker Room
Roku Kyoto Men’s Changing Room
Roku Kyoto Men's Locker Room Showers
Roku Kyoto Men’s Changing Room Showers
Roku Kyoto Men's Locker Room Swimsuit Dryer
Roku Kyoto Men’s Locker Room Swimsuit Dryer

 

Roku Kyoto- Roku Spa

To use up the rest of my credits from the Hilton Aspire and Business Card, I booked a 90-minute deep tissue massage at the Roku Spa priced at ~36,000 Yen.

The spa treatment begins with a ritual of grabbing little pieces of washi paper and throw them behind each of your shoulders to get rid of bad luck and wish you good ones. The massage did its job in getting myself feeling less fatigued since it’s easy to average around 20-30k steps a day when you’re traveling in Japan! Still, it’s not something I’d pay out of pocket for, and I’m sure there are many places where you can be satisfied for much less. The Aspire and Business Card credits did come in handy, but the spa purchase did not earn me back Hilton points other than the credit card spend.

Roku Kyoto After Spa Tea
Roku Kyoto After Spa Tea

 

Roku Kyoto- Fitness Center

The hotel’s gym is located on the second floor of the spa lobby and overlooks the thermal pool, open 24 hours.

Roku Kyoto Gym
Roku Kyoto Gym
Roku Kyoto Fitness Center
Roku Kyoto Fitness Center
Roku Kyoto Fitness Center
Fitness Center
Roku Kyoto Fitness Center Refreshments
Fitness Center Refreshments

 

Conclusion

I have mixed feelings about my stay at Roku Kyoto. First, I’ll say that the property itself is stunning to look at, and I appreciated the natural beauties surrounding the location. But at the same time, the location makes it more difficult to explore Kyoto, so I’d at least hold back from this stay until your second visit in Kyoto at least.

Then, there are soft product issues that detract from the experience like limited breakfast options and poor service structure for the pool drinks feel cheap for a hotel that typically charges $1000+ per night. The big language barrier from the front desk I encountered was also odd, and I had little issues regarding that at cheaper hotels in Japan.

The eventual disappearance of the Experience Credit for Hilton Diamond members would then provide less incentives to stay here and further cheapens the stay. All these issues, and I didn’t even mention the missed housekeeping issue I had!

I really want to like this hotel as I think it has the potential to be amazing, but I cannot help but have lukewarm feelings about it. I often compare it to my stay at Hotel the Mitsui Kyoto from last year that blows Roku Kyoto out of the water at most of every aspects. I haven’t tried other luxury Kyoto properties like Ritz-Carlton or Park Hyatt, but looking from others’ impressions, Roku Kyoto really need to step it up to become competitive.

Roku Kyoto also charges 110k Hilton points per night, and is the most expensive Hilton in all of Japan. My suggestion is to save your points and burn them at the Conrad Osaka or Conrad Tokyo instead if you plan to burn Hilton points in Japan.

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