Grand Opening: Noku Roxy Kyoto

Overview: The first in a new line of boutique hotels from the group behind Katong’s Grand Mercure Roxy Hotel (they’re also lining up a Phuket property for 2018), this newly refurbished 81-room spot, mere yards away from the grounds of Kyoto’s Imperial Palace, opened in November 2015.

Design: It’s a subtle, quiet spot, with low lighting and wood highlights: very much a modern boutique take on classical Japan. Drawing on Kyoto’s rich history, each room features individually curated artwork and, unlike many properties in Japan (especially in this price bracket), the rooms aren’t small, running from 215 to 550 sq ft.

Rave: While it’s fun to spend a night or two in a traditional ryokan while you’re in Japan, it was a pleasure to stretch out in a spacious room with Western beds and decent showers. Coffee at the in-house café was great, and the staff (including the kimono-clad GM himself) were particularly helpful in making dinner recommendations and reservations (they also have an app for e-concierge services, but we never needed it). The central location is also a real boon for sightseeing, with the Marutamachi subway station right next door and both Nijo Castle and Nishijin Textile District a short walk away.

Rant: Our fault, but we didn’t get to try in-house steak restaurant Kyou, simply because there are too many great spots, including one of the city’s best soba restaurants, the Michelin-starred Kanei, in the neighborhood.

Price: From 20,000JPY ($240)/night. You can make a reservation here.