Luxury Hotels

JAPAN – 12

Aman is privacy, but there are always exceptions to every pronouncement. At Aman Kyoto, Girlahead wanted to breakfast outside, at one of four tables on the black terrace overlooking the verdant moss carpet from which sky-high trees protrude. Well, a guy in black was at one table. Girlahead sat on a black chair at another table but soon joined him. A few minutes later a guy in grey came, and then another, also in grey. Soon there was Mr Bombardier Asia, a Mr Facebook, a Mr Wall Street banker on sabbatical providing Girlahead with ideas, best place to buy jeans in Tokyo,

Aman Kyoto, mind you is not a hotel, it is not a resort.  It’s more than either. It is an interactive hill-top nature gallery and you, staying at ‘the hotel’, exclusively take part.  GM Akira Shiota, above, is the man in charge.

Let’s see how it all started. Three generations back a Mr Asano, a highly successful maker of obis and other kimono essentials, started following his ambition. He bought the rights to 82ha at the foothills of Hidari Daimonji mountain on the outskirts of Kyoto. He planted many thousands of saplings, mostly Japanese maple and cedar, and he brought in an equal number of unique rocks (the biggest make a double bed look like a child’s cot).  Goodness how the rocks were transported. All the while Asano-san was sculpting the mountain, installing rock-lined soakaways and a guard-gate here.

Unfortunately all this cost even more than a flourishing obi tycoon could afford. The Asano operation went bankrupt, the ground developed its own ground cover, in the form of dayglo mid-green moss, and the trees grew unchecked.  At some point Australian designer Kerry Hill saw what had become a stunning rainforest, and he, who had already designed several Amans, dreamed of doing another, here.

Finally it came to pass. Aman Kyoto opened late 2019 and it has become the self-appointed club for success. To give an example, Girlahead found herself organically breakfasting with a Facebook tycoon, a New York banker and the Singapore-based director Asia for the world’s #1 private aviation manufacturer. We sat on the terrace of the all-day Living Pavilion, looking out at the serene calm of the lush green Kerry Hill Garden…