Ritz-Carlton Kyoto sits on the banks of the Kamogawa River in Nakagyo-ku, enjoying expansive views of the famous Higashiyama mountain range. The building is a contemporary interpretation of Meiji period (1868-1912) architecture, with interiors inspired by the dark, mysterious atmosphere of machiya—traditional Kyotian wooden townhouses.
With the guestrooms, there were a number of challenges to overcome. The atmospheric, nighttime ambience continues in the guestroom corridors lined with low, washi lantern-inspired lighting leading the way to the hotel’s 136 guestrooms. In order to take advantage of the mountain views and maximise frontage, the rooms are long, and due to height restrictions, the ceilings are relatively low. To combat this, Remedios has created a low aesthetic, focusing lighting and furnishings on horizontality rather than verticality. Pipe chases were organised to maximise space in the guestrooms and Remedios turned the redundant, remaining spaces in the corridors into a feature, installing wooden fins to articulate the passageways and create unexpected elements of interest.
Due to the city’s stringent seismic codes, the rooms feature a deep beam at the window, leading to a projected faux balcony. Inspired by the concept of engawa (a Japanese verandah), Remedios has turned the beam into an architectural element, wrapping it in wood and lighting it from behind. Wood flooring and detailing is light in colour, as one would find in Japanese homes. In addition, the engawa inadvertently inspired a new guestroom concept. Rather then create a conventional work area with a cumbersome desk, plus a separate living space, Remedios has created one multi-purpose area furnished with lounge chairs and a lower-than-average table that functions as a desk or dining table. The concept frees up valuable circulation space to include a day bed and a standalone tea chest that celebrates Japanese tea ceremonies.
To enhance the feeling of luxury in the guestrooms, great attention has been paid to detail. Lacquered finishing inside cabinets and drawers offer a visual treat when opened; cushions have been inspired by the kimonos of Heian courtesans; and bespoke carpeting has been woven to resemble tatami matting.