Grand Opening: Suiran Kyoto

Overview: Open since early 2015, this new addition to Starwood’s Luxury Collection takes up residence on the former site of an imperial villa, on the banks of the Hozu River in Western Kyoto’s Arashiyama district. It backs onto World Heritage temple Tenryu-ji and the famed Bamboo Forest, and the garden looks out directly over the river to the wooded hills beyond. It’s a truly stunning setting (especially in spring or fall as the leaves change color), and a world away from the hordes of tourists who trek out to this charming part of the city.

Design: While the site itself has a history stretching back more than a millennium, the hotel has been built around a century-old Meiji-era villa (that now houses the restaurant) and an equally distinguished house, once a gathering place of poets (where you’ll now find the café).  The 39 rooms, 17 of which feature their own private open-air hot spring bath, have been tastefully integrated into the site: the whole thing feels like you’ve set up home in a private palace. Even better, you can lap up the luxury while still getting an authentic experience in one of the traditional Japanese rooms, complete with tatami mats and futon.
Rave: Looking out over that river takes some beating, but it’s even better over dinner at restaurant Kyo-Suiran, which brings French influence to traditional Japanese Kaiseki and Teppanyaki. And the two in-house spa treatment rooms, one featuring a cypress bathtub, the other one made from stone, are a pretty good place to put your feet up: Kyoto may be one of the world’s great walking cities, but after your fourth World Heritage site of the day (there are 17 in total) you’re going to want a rest.  
Rant: Arashiyama really is a beautiful place and a real change from downtown Kyoto, but it does put you a long way from some of the major sights. There’s a nearby train line connecting you with the center in only 20 minutes or so, but taxis to and fro, especially after a meal downtown, aren’t going to come cheap.
Price: From JPY 70,000 ($854)/night, excluding 10% tax and 8% service charge. Make a reservation here.