Luxury Hotel SOWAKA

Where modern luxury meets ancient charm

Nestled in the charming winding streets of Kyoto’s famed Gion geisha district, SOWAKA puts a sublime modern twist on the traditional Japanese ryokan. Housed in a thoughtfully renovated former teahouse, the luxury hotel blends past and present into one sumptuous stay accentuated by tatami mats, sliding shoji screens and wooden corridors along with modern artworks and minimalist furniture.

The boutique hotel also provides anticipatory yet unobtrusive service and pays attention to every detail. An acclaimed fine-dining venue churns out intricate plates of traditional Kyoto-style cuisine and a gorgeous courtyard garden ensures you can find tranquility any time of day. And when it comes time to explore beyond SOWAKA’s walls, your prime city-center address makes it easy to uncover all that this ancient cultural hub has to offer.

Our Inspector's Highlights
  • With a name meaning “happiness” or “well-being” in Sanskrit, SOWAKA certainly delivers on its meditative premise. Entering the Kyoto hotel is like stepping back in time as you stroll down a tree-lined path and over a stone genkan threshold into the peaceful oasis of a 100-plus-year-old teahouse.
  • At just 23 keys, the boutique beauty is a haven of calm. Check into one of the 11 rooms in the main building to enjoy traditional ryokan-style accommodations overlooking the garden (ask for room 103 or 104 for the best vistas), or book the updated annex to get one of 12 modern rooms with a minimalist vibe and city views.
  • Named for its acclaimed Tokyo sibling, the hotel’s signature restaurant La Bombance Gion is a destination in and of itself. The intimate venue serves up show-stopping plates of seasonally inspired Kyoto cuisine that pop against black walls and sleek wooden tables.
  • SOWAKA’s well-connected staff can easily arrange just about any cultural excursion you could dream up in Kyoto. Private tea ceremonies, kimono fittings, behind-the-scenes temple tours, geisha dinners and more are all on the table.
  • Small local touches make all the difference during a stay at this Gion retreat. Bath amenities are supplied by nearly 160-year-old Kyoto beauty company Kazurasei. A moody bar specializes in local sake and shochu. Plush mattresses from local brand Iwata Larkowl add another authentic detail.

Nearby Attractions

  • SOWAKA’s enviable location within Kyoto’s Gion district allows you to immerse yourself in the city’s ancient charms without wandering too far from your home base. Stroll the city streets to see traditional wooden machiya houses, historic teahouses and geisha hustling to and from appointments — be mindful not to take pictures of the women without permission.
  • Just a short walk from your room is Yasaka, one of the city’s most famous Shinto shrines. Known for its vibrant festivals, especially the Gion Matsuri in July, the shrine is a prime spot to explore and enjoy beautiful seasonal displays of cherry blossoms and lanterns.
  • A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the 1,240-year-old Kiyomizu-dera Temple is famous for its five-story wooden stage that juts out from the main hall, affording stunning views of the cherry and maple trees below.
  • Located next to Yasaka Shrine, Maruyama Park is Kyoto’s most famous spot for cherry blossom viewing. Plan your visit sometime between mid-March and early April to see the famous flowers in full bloom.

24-hour room service
Babysitting services
Pet friendly
Getting There
80 Kiyoi-cho, Yasaka Toriimae-sagaru, Shimogawara-dori, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto 605-0821, Japan
KIX (1 hr 20 min-2 hr)   ITM (45 min-1 hr 20 min)  
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