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.


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).


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.


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.

Arts and Entertainment
Lou Reed distorted the truth about his upbringing, and since his death in 2013, biographers and memoirists have added to the myths
musicThe truth about Lou Reed's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths
Ed Miliband received a warm welcome in Chester
election 2015
Life and Style
Apple CEO Tim Cook announces the Apple Watch during an Apple special even
fashionIs the Apple Watch for you? Well, it depends if you want for the fitness tech, or the style
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
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
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Recruitment Genius: Bid / Tender Writing Executive

    £24000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: With offices in Manchester, Lon...

    Guru Careers: Marketing Executives / Marketing Communications Consultants

    Competitive (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a number of Marketi...

    Recruitment Genius: Marketing Executive

    £20000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This well established business ...

    Ashdown Group: Management Accountant - Manchester

    £25000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Management Accountant - Manchester...

    Day In a Page

    NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

    Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

    A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
    Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

    Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

    The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
    How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

    How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

    Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
    From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

    The wars that come back to haunt us

    David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
    Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

    Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

    A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
    Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

    UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

    Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
    John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

    ‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

    Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
    Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

    Let the propaganda wars begin - again

    'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

    Japan's incredible long-distance runners

    Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
    Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

    Tom Drury: The quiet American

    His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
    You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

    You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

    Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
    Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

    Beige to the future

    Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

    Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

    More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
    Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

    Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

    The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
    Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own