24-Hour Room Service: Hotel Screen, Kyoto, Japan

A sea of spring cherry blossom; a cluster of ancient temples; a geisha gliding along a lantern-lit path... Kyoto, the ancient capital of Japan, has long been associated with traditional Japanese culture. Until recently, accommodation here has been confined to either ryokan (traditional inns) or anonymous business hotels. Now Kyoto has taken a leap into the 21st-century with the arrival of Hotel Screen, the city's first boutique hotel.

The grey cubist building is unabashedly modern: the lobby is white and uncomplicated, with splashes of colour, while each of the 13 guestrooms has been created by a different designer or artist.

But the cultural weight of its location is impossible to ignore. Guests are greeted in the white lobby by a chilled-out musical soundtrack and smiling kimono-clad staff who serve traditional tea ceremony matcha (green tea).

Suspended from the double-height ceiling at different levels is a colourful clutch of 13 traditional paper umbrellas known as wagasa, transformed into modern lampshades. Further nods to Kyoto's heritage hang on the wall: a serene trio of pink-and-gold painted panels depicting sakura cherry blossoms, which are now just coming into bloom in the city.

A stay in Kyoto is incomplete unless you sample the region's renowned gastronomy. At the sleek restaurant, Kyotan nouvelle cuisine – a fusion of local and French style cooking using seasonal ingredients – is presented on sparkling crystal plates and consumed using wooden chopsticks. Dishes range from 13 Kyotan vegetables in a champagne marinade, to griddled pigeon. The restaurant's ceiling consists of gold and floral panels created by artist Tetsuie Nakamura.

The extravaganza continues at breakfast, with a traditional selection of around a dozen beautifully presented bite-sized dishes of tofu, miso, pickles, vegetables, rice and seaweed, all served as prettily as paintings.

LOCATION

Hotel Screen, 640-1 Shimogoryomaecho, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto, Japan (00 81 75 252 1113; the-screen.jp). The hotel is just around the corner from Imperial Palace, opposite the red gates of an ancient Shinto shrine and a stone's throw from the temples of Teramachi-dori.

Distance from international airport: Kyoto is a precise 77 minutes from Kansai international airport by the very clean and punctual train; Y3,490 (£25) one way. A taxi from Kyoto station to the hotel costs around Y1,200 (£8.70).

COMFORTABLE?

Two lifts – one glowing blue and the other pink – transport guests from the serene lobby to moody black corridors where the guestrooms are located. While each of the 13 rooms is created by a different designer, they share a common denominator: modern, clean design. Floating white fabrics create a dreamy effect in Softroom by Sam Liu, while a more stark monochrome aesthetic prevails in Petit Prince Room by Hikaru Katai. Kyotan roots are echoed once more in design pieces such as the traditional wooden fusuma sliding screen partitions painted with blue morning glory flowers in the room created by Tetsuie Nakamura.

Freebies: As well as the arrival tea ceremony, there are delectable Ren products in the bathrooms. Larger bottles, as well as a creative selection of modern Kyotan crafts made by local artisans, are also sold in the hotel's bijou shop.

Keeping in touch: There are two computers for general use while broadband access is provided free in the rooms.

THE BOTTOM LINE

Doubles start at Y25,000 (£182); breakfast costs an additional Y3,000 (£22).

I'm not paying that: Get back to basics in traditional temple lodgings known as "shukubo". Shunkoin Temple (00 81 75 462 5488; shunkoin.com) in the heart of Kyoto's largest temple complex offers simple rooms for Y5,000 (£36), with free bicycle rental.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Recruitment Genius: Web Developer - Junior / Mid Weight

    £15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: To support their continued grow...

    Recruitment Genius: Transportation Contracting Manager

    £33000 - £38000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A global player and world leade...

    Recruitment Genius: Hotel and Spa Duty Manager

    £18000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you are friendly, sociable, ...

    Recruitment Genius: Payroll and Benefits Co-ordinator

    £22300 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This museum group is looking for a Payro...

    Day In a Page

    Greece debt crisis: EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

    EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

    An outbreak of malaria in Greece four years ago helps us understand the crisis, says Robert Fisk
    Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas

    Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

    The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas
    How to survive electrical storms: What are the chances of being hit by lightning?

    Heavy weather

    What are the chances of being hit by lightning?
    World Bodypainting Festival 2015: Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'

    World Bodypainting Festival 2015

    Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'
    alt-j: A private jet, a Mercury Prize and Latitude headliners

    Don't call us nerds

    Craig Mclean meets alt-j - the math-folk act who are flying high
    How to find gold: The Californian badlands, digging out crevasses and sifting sludge

    How to find gold

    Steve Boggan finds himself in the Californian badlands, digging out crevasses and sifting sludge
    Singing accents: From Herman's Hermits and David Bowie to Alesha Dixon

    Not born in the USA

    Lay off Alesha Dixon: songs sound better in US accents, even our national anthem
    10 best balsamic vinegars

    10 best balsamic vinegars

    Drizzle it over salad, enjoy it with ciabatta, marinate vegetables, or use it to add depth to a sauce - this versatile staple is a cook's best friend
    Wimbledon 2015: Brief glimpses of the old Venus but Williams sisters' epic wars belong to history

    Brief glimpses of the old Venus but Williams sisters' epic wars belong to history

    Serena dispatched her elder sister 6-4, 6-3 in eight minutes more than an hour
    Greece says 'No': A night of huge celebrations in Athens as voters decisively back Tsipras and his anti-austerity stance in historic referendum

    Greece referendum

    Greeks say 'No' to austerity and plunge Europe into crisis
    Ten years after the 7/7 terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?

    7/7 bombings anniversary

    Ten years after the terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?
    Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has created

    Versace haute couture review

    Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has ever created
    No hope and no jobs, so Gaza's young risk their lives, climb the fence and run for it

    No hope and no jobs in Gaza

    So the young risk their lives and run for it
    Fashion apps: Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers

    Fashion apps

    Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers
    The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

    Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

    Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy