Entering Hotel Kanra is a light and airy affair. Gentle steps down the narrow corridor with slender bamboo stalks on either side swinging gracefully, pass through the sliding wood panels into the sparse reception area and the seasonally curated Ikebana (flower arrangement) awaits. This time it’s unusually sweltering early summer and wisteria arrangement is in full display.
Hotel Kanra is an unmistakably modern design hotel, but one that deeply emphasises Kyoto’s local tradition and ‘Matchiya’ style in the use of natural materials of wood, stone and iron. Regularity of shapes and patterns calm the sense throughout Hotel Kanra but the reception area is a delicate testament to weightless modular design and calm order.
Hexagonal floor tiles set the pace and low-lying layers of reception desk, barista counter and lounge sofas draw the obliging guests. Polygon tiled wall behind the reception is pale jade and elegant as it can be. The curved edges emit faint intermittent glow and the surface changes its shade as the sun drenched lobby changes hue throughout the day. Sliding wood panel doors are made by adjoining timber planks in which Kyoto carpentry skills are boastfully displayed and the hand cut undulating grooves round out the symmetry of hexagons.
Citrusy wisteria scent hangs in the air, blends with aromatic Japanese cypress wood and acoustic strings strumming in the background adds to the ambiance.
Glass partitioned shower and bathtub suite (in Kanra’s case hinoki tub) is a Japanese invention. If you’re going to encase the walking shower with glass why not throw in the tub? After all objective is to keep the rest of the bathroom entirely splash-free. Again tiny hexagonal shower wall tiles gives continuity although this monotone patterned surface is too busy and over powering. Perhaps smattering of that pale celadon shapes would have eased the eyes. Taps and mixers (Gessi, rarely Italian in this shrine to Japanese parts) are precise and appropriately weighty. Typically over illuminated Japanese lighting is welcome in the bathroom.
I always found the separate toilet cubicle superfluous… but so goes Japanese logic ‘keep private spaces entirely private’.
Kitchen Kanra, an Italian restaurant with an enviable selection of Tuscan and Piedmont reds is an exciting dining space and a must visit for, if not for the elaborately pretty Japanese breakfast.
Hanaroku is an elegant Teppan restaurant mixed with Kaiseki (traditional course meal) and a well-kept secret of sorts in this city of 400+ Michelin stared restaurant scene (including Osaka). One irritation of these Kaiseki shrines is that you could easily blame the pin drop… serenity is the modus operandi and sucks the life out of an otherwise awe-inspiring meal. At Hanaroku you can let your hair down a little and joke with your serving staff (in language other than Japanese). Dim down the lights and jazz it up with harder Kyoto motifs, this place would rock.
190 Kitamachi Karasuma-dori Rokujo-sagaru Shimogyo-ku Kyoto Japan 600-8176