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New gem: Hotel Intergate Kyoto REVIEWED


MARK HARADA checks into a new Kyoto property, where zen, onsen and wholesome food meet to create a very special hotel.

 

There are hotels that offer food. Then there are hotels that offer food experiences. The recently opened Hotel Intergate Kyoto Shijoshinmachi definitely belongs to the latter. 

 

But how does a hotel that forgoes lunch and dinner rate so highly for dining, and even wining? Like a good day, it all starts with a good  breakfast...

 

Framing a gorgeous glassed-in garden, Intergate’s morning buffet offers a wide range of what it calls ‘vegetable-rich’ dishes. In a space that’s half-restaurant and half-lounge, all of the Japanese staples are here, like rice, miso soup, grilled fish, pickles. But it’s the less common dishes that stand out most, like the seven-vegetable frittata, Japanese potato salad (WAY better than the western version), daikon (Japanese radish) and burdock courses, and the highlight for me, yuba (tofu skin) nuggets, which are better than they sound.

 

 

Away from breakfast, the Intergate offers no less than five food and beverage services, from pre-brekkie specialty coffee and smoothies to the late night bubezuke (green tea poured over rice and condiments), which almost acts as a full meal. From three onwards, there’s the excellent ‘honey buffet’, which serves various versions of the the nectar (like Acacia and wildflower) alongside chagashi (tea cakes) and other snacks, while from 5pm to 7pm, the hotel puts on a happy (read free) hour with wines and cocktails. 

 

In most hotels, a free F&B service like this is reserved for club guests or members. But at the Intergate, it’s open to everyone. And when you consider the going room rate at the hotel is less than $100 per person, it represents remarkable value.    

 

Adjacent to the restaurant/lounge, the hotel lobby is stunning. Through the pretty noren (Japanese door curtains), a bright gold reception area stands in stark contrast to the darkened lanes outside. Here, shoji screens mix with subtle yet superb local art in a minimalist aesthetic not uncommon for hotels in Japan. And there’s a warmth here too, which is in some way down to the staff, who from the beginning to the end of our stay are as personable as they are professional.  

 

 

At check-in, we’re given a friendly rundown of the hotel’s features. And we quickly discover, despite its nods to tradition, this is a property that values technology. Check-in is done on a tablet, while check-out can be expedited through the television in our room. 

 

Billed as a Superior Double, our abode for the evening is a little on the small side, but it uses its space efficiently, so easily accommodates myself, my partner and our three-year-old. Among the highlights here are the comfy yukata (casual kimonos), which can be worn in various parts of the hotel, a free mobile phone that comes in handy when we’re out and about, and the Japanese (i.e. automated) toilet. Of course a toilet can be a highlight... 

 

Other room features include the Simmons mattress, air-conditioning and humidifier, flat-screen tv, free wi-fi, hair dryer, refrigerator, and tea set. On request, guests can also order ironing amenities, grooming extras like a trouser press and additional toiletries, DVD player, dishes and cutlery, baby cot, children’s pajamas, and even a toilet seat for toddlers (which is perfect for us). And if you’re after a larger room, try the hotel’s Junior Suite, which is around twice as big as the standard room.

 

Image Intergate Hotel

 

Gentle music plays through the hallways as I make my way to one of the signature features of the hotel: its onsen. Very few hotels in downtown Kyoto can boast of having hot spring baths, but as we’ve come to realise, the Intergate isn’t your average hotel. 

 

Inside the male bath, which is packed with healthy minerals, I’m left with only the sounds of soft tunes and falling water as company. So within seconds, I’m already feeling more relaxed, more zen. That’s exactly what this hotel does to you, one bath, and bite, at a time.

 

Location: 387 Mukadeya-cho, Nishikikoji-agaru, Shinmachi-dori, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto

Hotel Intergate Kyoto Shijoshinmachi is situated on a quiet lane, but still close to the action. Most notably, one of Kyoto’s most bustling areas, Nishiki Market is just a few blocks away.      

 

 

New Kyoto tax: From 1 October, Kyoto began charging guests a small accommodation tax, with the levy applied to hotels, ryokans, and residential rentals. The tax rate, per person, per night is:

Under 20,000 yen -> 200 yen

Over 20,000 yen to 49,999 yen -> 500 yen

Over 50,000 yen -> 1,000 yen

 

The writer was a guest of the hotel. To get to Kyoto, we travelled with a JR Rail Pass, which can be arranged hassle-free through Rail Plus.

 

 

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Written by: Mark Harada
Published: 11 December 2018


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