An open courtyard, 220 modern rooms, an exceptional restaurant, friendly staff, built in 2015, and just a two-minute walk from Kyoto’s train station makes for a perfect hotel in my book. On this, my tenth trip to Japan, I had no idea what to expect from this hotel other than it was close to the train station. Upon arrival, the European-like open courtyard stuck out. Instead of walking through standard double doors into a hotel, two sides of the first floor were open to the elements. A shallow pool reflected the mosaic of the stone wall near reception.
They speak English if needed
At check-in, the reception desk staff spoke English well. They explained the features of the north and south buildings to us. The south building is just a few steps away from the north building. Unlike the north building, the south wing features an enclosed first floor. This might be a wise choice during the extreme cold of winter or the heat and humidity of summer. The coffee lounge is open most of the day at the South Building and check with reception if you need exact hours for either building’s free coffee service.
The south building also has a gym, public baths, and self-serve laundry, all of which are available to hotel guests of either building. Both buildings feature several room choices too numerous to go into detail. Consider paying a bit more for a balcony room if the weather is right for lounging in the fresh air. We found our balcony perfect for enjoying a takeaway lunch from a train station restaurant. While most of the balconies don’t have much of a view, they do provide a private space in the fresh air.
What you get
For amenities, the rooms have refrigerators, daily housekeeping, toiletries, slippers for indoors, bathroom, and outdoors. Guests will like the no-fog mirrors in the super-clean bathroom. Instead of in-room safes, find an automated safety box for your valuables near the reception desk in the north building.
Some guests will be intimidated by the modern toilets in their bathroom. With more controls than your average portable heater, these are not too difficult to use. I recommend concentrating on just the two buttons towards the front. The first button turns off the butt-spray, and the one in front of it turns on the spray. The other buttons increase or decrease the warmth of the heated seat, or adjust the front and back range of the water spray. You’ll find this type of toilet often in your travels throughout Japan and rarely is the button function in English.
Excellent on-site dining
One of the biggest surprises of Sakura Terrace The Gallery is their exceptional restaurant. We had dinner the first night at the hotel and were blown away by how good it was. The chef knows French, Italian, and Japanese cooking techniques very well. We had the duck breast, noodles with porcini mushrooms, Wagyu steak, and half a lobster. All were fabulous, and none cost more than 1,500 JPY!
The Western-style breakfast buffet for just 2,300 JPY is the best in all my travels to Japan. On the bakery table find around 15 types of delicious pastries. The chocolate croissant is the best I’ve had anywhere in the world! The salad table features around five super-fresh prepared salads and additional toppings. In Japan, it’s hard to find great salads in restaurants so get it while you can, even though it’s at breakfast.
On another buffet table were five types of little sandwiches including an open-faced lox on a baguette round, a white fish sandwich, blt, and a caprese sandwich similar to a mini pizza. The hot entrees table had sausages, ham, scrambled eggs, fried chicken, potato gratin, a Sri Lanka-style curry, and a shrimp-vegetable stir-fry. Several juices, smoothies, teas, and coffee options are also included.
So Close to Kyoto Station
The location of Sakura Terrace The Gallery is hard to beat. Take local trains to many key points of interest in the Kyoto area. You can walk to temples and gardens that are within 20 minutes or less from the hotel, or take buses and taxis to the sites further away. For peace, quiet, and beauty, take a 15-minute walk to Shōsei-en Gardens. The front desk can guide you there, or stop off at the visitor’s information center in the Kyoto Train Station for directions since you’ll need to walk through the station to get to the street taking you to these gardens.
Kyoto has many World Heritage sites that can get overcrowded and places like Shōsei-en Gardens offer a respite from the busy temples. Other less-visited sites not far from Sakura Terrace The Gallery like Tofuku-ji Temple are worth exploring. Ask the front desk for help to guide you there.
To book your stay at Sakura Terrace The Gallery follow the link to the Booking.com website where booking in almost any language is easy.