Konnichiwa Japan – Westin Miyako Kyoto


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The Westin Miyako Kyoto was our first stop in Japan after an outrageously long day of travel! (Downtown Chicago to Chicago O’Hare to Tokyo Narita to Tokyo Station to Kyoto Station to the Westin Kyoto)  I had reserved 5 nights using 40K SPG points.  I booked the Westin Kyoto before its deserved upgrade to category 5 and I used the 5th night free option for Starwood award redemptions.

As many of you readers know, I like to travel a good bit.  Given this extended stay, the friend I was traveling with challenged me to come up with the last time I had slept 5 nights in a row in the same bed!  The Verdict: More than two full years! For the next 5 nights the Westin would be my most permanent home. I even *gasp* unpacked in the hotel room dresser!!

Trip Report

  1. Introduction and Trip Planning
  2. Japan Airlines Economy From ORD to NRT
  3. Westin Miyako Kyoto
  4. Exploring Kyoto
  5. Day trips from Kyoto
  6. Park Hyatt Tokyo – Part I
  7. Park Hyatt Tokyo – Part II
  8. Exploring Tokyo
  9. Final Thoughts

The Hotel

While riding in a taxi to the Westin, I looked out the window and was secretly hoping our hotel would be that building towering over Kyoto.

IMG_1074Hotel towering over Kyoto

Sure enough, that is it!  While not part of the downtown skyline, the Westin is one of the few large non-temples to be built up high on the surrounding mountains.  The exquisite service begin immediately as we pulled up to the lobby.  In  a matter of minutes we were checked in, read all of our Platinum benefits and escorted to our room with our luggage.  The lobby is covered with thousands of photos of famous celebrities and diplomats that have stayed here.  Some of the hallways and lobby areas were a bit worn down with age but I suppose I can’t complain about a hotel that has been there over 120 years! Compared to the Westin line of hotels, this hotel was on the classy and traditional side as opposed to some of the more modern Westins.

IMG_0524The lobby

Hotel Amenities

The hotel was enormous with 501 rooms, seven restaurants, two pools, a spa, a helicopter pad, and several floors of meeting spaces.  I particularly enjoyed the indoor and outdoor pool along with the fitness center every morning. The outdoor pool was closed during my stay but against the backdrop of the mountains it looked quite pleasant. There is a fee for the gym which is waived for Platinum SPG members.

Transportation-wise, the hotel is located next to a subway line as well as several bus lines.  In addition, all hotel guests can use the convenient Hotel shuttle which can take you from the hotel to Kyoto station with two stops at sightseeing areas.  Locating the shuttle can be difficult, but the service is very helpful for getting around Kyoto which I will cover in my next post.

IMG_0485The pool

The Room

Upon check-in, we were informed that we received a complimentary upgrade to a one bedroom, one bathroom Luxury Suite.  The top floor suite had a large bedroom and large living area that I’d estimate at 800 square feet.  Not bad for Japan!  The room was traditional and comfortable with several full size mirrors.  The furniture and technology showed some wear but was still in pretty good shape.  Both rooms had windows with unobstructed views over the Kyoto mountains.  As a beautiful welcome, we awoke the first morning to a light snow painting the Kyoto landscape.

IMG_0925View out the window

CIMG3781Bedroom with Heavenly Bed

CIMG3765Spacious living area

In the room, we found two styles of Pajamas per person, a set of Heavenly robes, and Bulgari bath products in the bathroom.  The Bulgari bath products are only found in the suites.  The standard Westin bath products are in standard rooms.  No review of a Japanese hotel would be complete without the toilet.  This was our first experience with the Japanese toilet.  It only took us 30 minutes to figure it out!  As standard amongst SPG hotels, Internet was complimentary for Platinums.  Wireless Internet was not available in the rooms but could be found in the Club Lounge and lobby.

CIMG3779Two pajama types to choose from

CIMG3774Bathroom sink

CIMG3776Japanese toilet!

CIMG3777Bulgari bath products

The Daily Treats

Each day that our room was refreshed, we were surprised by a new treat. It was generally fruit and water but on some occasions sake would show itself.  In fact, on one of the nights,  the hotel generously left a Happy Honeymoon cake!  I am not sure where they got the idea, but it was not our honeymoon.  Of course we were more than willing to play (eat) along.

CIMG3783Not really a honeymoon, but oh well!

CIMG3769Fruit, water and snacks

IMG_0480Sake and Chips

The Breakfast

As a Platinum SPG member, the Breakfast Buffet in the restaurant was comped for all registered guests to the room.  We took advantage of the breakfast buffet all five mornings.  While there was some variation from day to day, the selection was so massive that we never were able to give everything a try.  Guests are also offered the Japanese breakfast in the restaurant but we weren’t feeling particularly adventurous in the mornings of this trip.  Platinum members may also eat in the Club Lounge during breakfast through the spread in the lounge was not nearly as good as the restaurant.

IMG_0520One of twenty breakfast buffet Stations

The Club Lounge

Access to the Club Lounge on the top 2 floors overlooking Kyoto was another Platinum benefit.  Each evening, service was open for about 2.5 hours and consisted of your standard lounge snacks spread along with unlimited Sake, Beer, Wine and liquors.  On top of the spread, each guest entering the lounge was served a sampler of four small dishes which rotated daily.  When your US Dollar doesn’t go very far in Japan, this can be a real money saver!  Several nights we spent hours sipping martinis, snacking, gazing over the entire city of Kyoto as the sunset over the mountains, and thinking, wow, we are so lucky.  Don’t miss this view!

IMG_0488Club Lounge During the Day – Library

IMG_0489View from the Club Lounge

IMG_0508Sample sampler

IMG_0506Beer and liquor

IMG_0505

Sake

IMG_0504Cheese and nuts

The Bottom Line

Though showing its 120+ year age in some aspects, the Westin Miyako Kyoto delivered an incredible five night experience.  Its prime location make exploring Kyoto easy and provides spectacular views from most rooms.   The Platinum SPG benefits really took this stay to the next level.  The Club Lounge, breakfast buffet, and fitness center made for incredible value in an award redemption. As good as the Westin was, I’ll just say I sure am glad we decided to start with the Westin first before we experienced the Park Hyatt Tokyo.

Editorial Note: Opinions, analyses, reviews or suggestions expressed on this site are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer. This post was accurate at the time of posting, offer may be unavailable on this site at a later time. For details on current offers visit the card issuer’s site.

About alex

Alex loves to travel and does so a lot. Logging 100,000 flight miles each year over the past 4 years, Alex uses points and miles to power his passion. Alex is continuously striving to experience the far reaches of the globe. In his day job, Alex is a Management Consultant frequently on the road advising Technology organizations. I love thinking about, reading about, and talking about all things travel. Feel free to reach me at pmmalex@gmail.com

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Comments

  1. Nice post and pics. I will be traveling in the opposite direction in 2 weeks, starting with PH Tokyo and Westin Miyako later. For out Kyoto stay, I actually debated between the Hyatt (as a newly minted Diamond) and the Miyako (as a lowly Gold), ended up booking Miyako due to location. Did you find it to be good? Can’t wait for the next installment 😉 I booked a C&P stay, do you think I could have a shot at a better, larger room if I booked a paid stay with the upgrade promo they are running now? I know it will be during Hanami and being only Gold I am not really counting on any upgrades. Looking forward to the next posts…

  2. I enjoyed reading your comprehensive review. When you redeemed your award nights, did you book the lowest room category? I was just wondering if one needed to redeem a higher category room to get upgraded to a suite as a Platinum. Was it easy to navigate from Narita to Kyoto. I’m planning a trip to Kyoto myself in a couple of months. Thanks again!

  3. @MNY – Thank you. Yes. The location was superb and it was the reason I made the same decision as you. Several consider the Hyatt to be a nicer property, but I stopped by and based on the location, I would not have traded my stay at the Westin for the Hyatt.

    It sounds like the upgrade promo isn’t all that was promised. Others on BA have reported problems. YMMV

    You’ll enjoy this property even if the upgrade doesn’t come through. I am jealous! I already want to go back!

  4. @AC – I booked the lowest level King Room. The hotel upgraded the reservation well before I even arrived. My SPG iPhone app showed the upgrade 3 days in advance.

    Narita to Kyoto via the bullet trains was a breeze using a JR Pass as we did. The route is commonly traveled by tourists so the JR Office at Narita is used to explaining exactly how to proceed. In most cases you will transfer once.

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