In the midst of the world’s turmoil, some fresh air from a zen haven is quite tempting and will make a change from the truckload of zen quotes we swallow :
discover the HOSHINOYA KYOTO HOTEL :
This hybrid ryokan-hotel, a series of low buildings inspired by traditional Japanese houses, clings to the banks above the Hozugawa River in the temple-rich Arashiyama district, and is accessed by a lazy boat ride in a hinoki (Japanese cedar) vessel.
Its 25 elegant rooms too are redolent of cedar, and although they don't have TVs, they do have heated wooden floors, hand-blocked wallpaper, shoji-inspired sliding glass doors and picture windows (all the better to lean out and watch the foxes, deer, and occasional monkey that prance through the forest), deep cedar soaking tubs, and lofty duvets that sigh when you flop down on them.
Once you have dealt with the enthrolling beauty of this hilly meditative area, you will discover the contemporary lines of your hotel : soft lighting as in the XVII th century tea rooms, cedar and bambou furniture all hand made.
From the iron lanterns that light the moss-traced stone walkways to the lashed bamboo fences, every detail has been well considered. In lieu of a bar, there's a library, refreshed throughout the day with complimentary snacks by the gracious staff (who speak excellent English). As in a traditional ryokan, there are some restrictions—the boat back to the docks runs only from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.—but Hoshinoya is a retreat not only from town but from modernity.
At night, after you've eaten an excellent Japanese or French meal and changed into the provided lounging clothes (complete with raw-silk robes), you can sit in the Zen rock garden, look up at the star-smeared sky, and forget what century you're in.
This hotel is the perfect place to regain some calmness, some serenity, to take time to think, it is very inspiring and makes for a humble retreat.
Nonetheless, you still WANT to do something ! Don’t worry , oh boy, you’ll be doing activities far from our European little life ! You will learn and wear the kimono in the streets of Old Kyoto, you’ll learn how to create a real Japanese bouquet, as wel as how to meditate in zen temples. With the 2000 temples of Kyoto, you’ve got tough work ahead !
Prices : from 514€ the Tani room to 1343€ the Tsuki maisonnette.