My Osaka business meeting ended on Friday noon -- and soon after, Jay and I were on a shinkansen bound for Kyoto. I had been traveling to Japan every year for more than 10 years but had never been to this world renowned heritage city. We were both looking forward to seeing as much as we could in two whole days.
I booked our stay at Hotel Brighton, going by recommendations from trusty Trip Advisor.
Even before we arrived, the hotel had already given us a taste of their efficiency and service.
They sent a fax to our hotel in Osaka with a detailed map from Kyoto Station and directions to give the taxi driver written in Japanese.
We arrived on a perfect September afternoon. Hotel Brighton is a 15 to 20 minute taxi ride from Kyoto station and is located in what is called Central Kyoto. It is a 500 meter walk to the lovely Imperial Palace Park -- which is where we headed to right after we had checked in.
While the hotel is not near downtown Kyoto where the stores and the restaurants are, it is located in a very quiet and genteel residential area. Walking through the small streets and alleys, we discovered a hidden side of the un-touristy Kyoto.
Hotel Brighton is not new nor is it designed in a contemporary fashion. The building is quite traditional and not very stylish.
All rooms are spread out over six floors and each room looks out onto this huge atrium where there are coffee shops and various restaurants.
Despite the fact that the hotel is no longer new, it is very well maintained and spotlessly clean.
We were pleasantly surprised to see our very spacious and comfortable room.
Given that this was Japan and Kyoto is such a tourist destination, I was expecting the usual space saving ultra small but efficient bed and bath unit. I was not prepared for such a surfeit of space!
The bed was big and very comfortable and a well placed sofa in the corner made for a cozy reading nook. This was a room where I wouldn't have to worry about tripping over my suitcase!
The bathroom was another revelation -- again, gigantic by Japanese standards with a separate glassed in area for the huge tub and shower stall. So impressive!
This large and deep tub was uber luxurious -- even if it was made of porcelain and not of traditional wood, I filled it with hot water and pretended that I was in my very own private onsen. It promised long leisurely soaks at the end of each day.
On our first night in Kyoto, we were starving and unsure of where the nearest meal could be had, since the hotel was in such a non-commercial area.
We decided to try Feerie, the western style restaurant on the ground floor. While it seemed like a casual open dining area, there was an unmistakeable air of muted elegance and gentility, which fit in with the Brighton's over all ambience.
Feerie had a western style dinner buffet but we didn't feel like a very heavy meal. Besides we wanted to eat Japanese food so we opted to order Japanese curry; a seafood curry for me and a beef curry for Jay.
It was a good decision -- the curries were excellent and tasted as authentic as any I had ever enjoyed in a bustling curry place in the train station. On fine bone china and in white tureens, it was just a bit more twee!
We couldn't leave without rounding out our "fine" dining experience with a bit of dessert. The waiter recommended the fruit cheesecake which was light, not too sweet and perfect with our coffee nightcap.
After that satisfyingly tasty dinner -- it was time to tuck ourselves into the soft, waffle cotton bathrobes thoughtfully provided in our room.
We looked forward to an early night to prepare us for tomorrow's whole day of sightseeing.
An excellent first impression of Hotel Brighton was the perfect introduction to the charms of Kyoto!