When visiting a well known tourist destination, one that has countless must-see sights, it's always better to stay in a hotel that affords easy and convenient access to transportation.
We were in Kyoto last week for a quick holiday and I chose a hotel that advertised itself as "2 minutes away from Kyoto Station. How much more accessible and convenient can you get?
And true enough, Hotel Vista Kyoto is just across bustling and busy Kyoto Station. Where you get off the Haruka Express from the airport, where you can take the bullet train to just about anywhere in Japan, where you link up by regular train to the rest of the Kansai area. As seen from this photo taken from the 4th floor of the station, the hotel is that gray building right across the tracks.
Our room actually looked out on the JR Kintetsu Line entrance. You enter and exit the station via the Hachijo West gate. So convenient to all JR lines! Plus, a 5 minute walk through the station leads you to the subway station and the bus stops.
Aside from being so convenient to public transport, the hotel's rooms and facilities more than exceeded my expectations. I know that hotel rooms in Japan can be compact, to say the least but our 17.5 sqm room was clean, spotless and while a little cramped, was not uncomfortable.
I specially loved the shiny, gleamingly clean bathroom where the small space was really maximized. A tub and a hand held shower gave you the option of either a quick bath or a long, leisurely soak.
Hotel Vista didn't scrimp on the bathroom amenities.
The shampoo and shower gel were from giant Japanese cosmetics firm Pola, well known for their skincare and beauty products. I really loved the scent of the Royal Jelly and Olive Oil body soap which made bath time feel so luxurious.
The hotel's lobby and front desk is on the third floor. While quite minimalist, it is also not unstylish. The floor to ceiling glass windows bring in the light and add to the airy and cool feel.
There are guide books and photo books on Kyoto -- unfortunately in Japanese. There were a fair number of international guests but at the time we were there, most of the patrons were domestic tourists.
When asked about the availability of breakfast, the front desk staff informed us of a Japanese breakfast buffet available in the dining room on the 2nd floor, for only Y1,200. It was great value and we had breakfast there every day of our stay.
Like the lobby, the dining room (which was open only for breakfast, from 6:30 a.m to 10 a.m.) was quite simple yet had clean and elegant furnishings. There was a good high quality spread of what made breakfast truly Japanese -- grilled fish, steamed rice, an assortment or tsukemono or pickles and side dishes like tofu, vegetables, oden and even a very yummy vegetarian curry.
The coffee was dispensed from an espresso machine and thus freshly brewed. The dishes were changed each day that we were there so we always looked forward to what new thing we would have for breakfast.
Hotel Vista's breakfast buffet was such a hit! I loved the presentation of the various dishes and tried to infuse as much art direction as I could on my breakfast tray. A little of this, a bit of that -- something salty and something sour, something soft and something crunchy.
It was a breakfast imbued with "wa" -- harmony, peace and balance.
Perhaps "wa" was what I experienced at Hotel Vista Kyoto. While it is right smack in the middle of the busy Kyoto station area -- and it did not come with wide open spaces, grand rooms or even sweeping panoramic views ... but it had an air of welcoming hospitality, simple yet comfortable accommodations and choice amenities that make for great harmony, peace and balance for the travelers that come to stay in this surprisingly fine hotel.