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Kyoto's Shinmonzen hotel: 'a bit exclusive, a bit secret'

Charms of traditional Japanese 'ryokan' are distilled and elevated with bespoke design

Designed by Tadao Ando, The Shinmonzen hotel is a gentle addition to Kyoto’s Gion area. 

The Shinmonzen, a new nine-suite hotel designed by Tadao Ando, sits on a quiet but characterful street peppered with antique shops in a corner of Kyoto's Gion area. It's an urban oasis that is close to all the action.

"The idea was to make it like a machiya townhouse," says general manager Katrina Uy of the four-story new build with an understated sumi-kuro charcoal-black wooden exterior. It's a gentle addition to the neighborhood; there is not a single sign outside except for a noren curtain-like fabric banner with the letter "S" on it. "We wanted to do it in Kyoto style: a bit exclusive, a bit secret," says Uy.

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