Villa Aneyakoji

Prologue

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In a city dominated by traditional ryokans and modern western-style hotels, the intimate Villa Aneyakoji stands out from the majority of Kyoto’s accommodations with its boutique, residence-style offering. Established by local travel and lifestyle magazine publisher Leaf Publications Inc, the kyo-machiya property has steadily attracted discerning visitors and fans since its opening in July 2013.

 

Follow us as we check-in for a 2-night stay to find out the allure of this unique hotel.

 

Location / Accessibility

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Tucked on Aneyakoji-dori in the shadow of Nijo Castle nearby, the property enjoys a convenient yet relatively quiet location in central Kyoto. The main thoughfares of  Shijo-dori and Horikawa-dori provide convenient bus and subway connections to major attractions in the city, as well as Kyoto Station for neighbouring towns on the regional and nationwide rail network.

 

Arrival Experience

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Arriving by foot after an easy walk through the back streets in the morning cool, we were welcomed into the warmth of Villa Aneyakoji’s compact reception. The lone staff member on-duty, a young hostess, informed us that our room was not ready (which we had expected given the early hour) but we were welcome to leave our luggage for storage and return later in the day.

 

It was nearly nightfall when we pulled up outside the now familiar grey machiya in one of Kyoto’s convenient tourist-friendly taxis. We were again welcomed into the cozy reception by the friendly staff, who proceeded to serve a drink of hot green tea as check-in formalities were completed. With keys in-hand, one of the hostesses led us to the adjacent elevator to show us to our room upstairs.

 

Guestrooms

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Kyoto’s machiyas are characterized by their narrow frontage and deep interiors, a consequence of old tax laws where property tax was determined by the size of a building’s facade. The property cleverly makes use of the interior area with only 2 guestrooms on each floor, making for a very intimate, private and exclusive space.

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We were booked into a Superior room on the third floor and were immediately impressed by the modern Japanese decor and sense of space inside, although it must be said that the beds were positioned closer to each other to achieve this. The plush Simmons-branded bed was very comfortable and provided a high degree of back support, paired with a selection of pillows.

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The compact bathroom was divided into separate areas for the toilet and the shower/bathtub combination. The former is one of the ubiquitous Japanese electric toilets, complete with a self-raising, heated seat, adjustable bidet and spray, controlled from a wall-mounted panel with additional laminated English instructions thoughtfully provided for non-Japanese speakers. Villa Aneyakoji also provided very aromatic bath amenities from Japanese manufacturer POLA’s AromaEss line, together with plush linen and robes for a pampering bath experience.

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Facing the beds was the room’s living space, comprising a L-shaped sofa and table set, as well as a sideboard that doubled as a second writing desk. A flatscreen television sat atop the sideboard and provided the in-room entertainment, although the programming was largely limited to local channels with little non-Japanese content. A copy of the owner-published Leaf magazine and other city guides were also placed here for guests’ reading pleasure.

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Every room also featured a minibar, well-stocked with bottled water and local beverages (alcoholic and non-alcoholic), together with a convenient coffee-/tea-maker stocked with premium coffee and tea.

 

Dining

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With just 7 rooms, the hotel has opted for more unconventional dining options as opposed to a full-fledged restaurant. Sharing the ground floor space with the reception was a cozy bartop that seats 6 guests comfortably for evening drinks and local sake, with the small numbers making for a particularly intimate atmosphere. The same space doubled as a breakfast venue in the mornings, although guests also had the option of dining in the comforts of their room.

 

We had our breakfast tray served to us in-room at our preferred time every morning. Villa Aneyakoji offers a continental breakfast tray with salad, fruits, yoghurt, ham, egg fritata and bread with preserves accompanied by a glass of orange juice and freshly brewed coffee. Food quality was excellent as is the case in Japan although there was not much in terms of variety, with the other option being the Japanese breakfast tray which could be had for an additional fee.

 

Facilities

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Sitting opposite the bartop is a small display of local handicraft and trinkets for sale. In a nod to the owner’s eye for lifestyle and the arts, the items are all exquisitely designed and updated seasonally. All guests also receive a farewell gift at departure, for which we got a beautiful diary that is quickly becoming a rarity in today’s digital age.

 

Service / Staff

During our short stay, we quickly became acquainted with the staff members running this small property. Manned exclusively by a team of ladies, all of whom were very courteous and helpful with recommendations for dining and sightseeing, the service was very professional while also personalized much like that from a butler or housekeeper.

 

Verdict

Villa Aneyakoji is a hidden gem in Kyoto and represents a good mix between east and west, modern and traditional. A quiet yet conveniently accessible location, coupled with an excellent hard product and equally outstanding service level make it a wonderful accommodation option from which to explore the city.

 

Villa Aneyakoji

460 Miyagicho, Nakagyo-ku

Kyoto, Japan 604-8275

+81 75 257 8100

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