Fauchon L’Hôtel Kyoto review: French five-star hotel near the Kiyomizu-dera temple and Yasaka Pagoda

Fauchon L’Hôtel Kyoto exterior

Separated by more than 6,000 miles and a language barrier, the connections between Paris and Kyoto might not be immediately obvious. But the Fauchon L’Hôtel Kyoto – sprouted from a gourmet grocery brand that began life 130 years ago on the City of Light’s Place de la Madeleine – offers a fascinating and tasty reminder of the ties between the two cities.

Joining Fauchon’s flagship hotel in Paris, the five-star property opened in March 2021, bringing its signature French flair, tea blends and pastries to Japan’s second city. Located in the Shimogyo Ward, close to the banks of the Kamo River, it’s in a prime location for exploring all the sights.

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Kiyomizu-dera, a must-visit attraction, is within walking distance, as is the iconic Yasaka Pagoda (even if you’re unfamiliar with the city, you’ll easily recognise what is undoubtedly Kyoto’s most photographed spot). For nighttime explorations, the district of Gion is also within a 15-minute walk.

Across the 59 rooms, food and beverage outlets and the world’s first-ever Fauchon Spa, the boutique hotel offers a space to relax, recharge and enjoy refined gastronomic experiences, while embracing the brand’s ‘life in pink’ philosophy.

Middle East Traveller checked in to a Superior Room at Fauchon L’Hôtel Kyoto for a gastronomic stay blending the best of France and Japan.

The Hotel

Much has been made of the hotel’s Frenchness, but perhaps not enough has been made of its use of Japanese elements in celebration of both cultures. The brand’s signature hue (a striking hot pink) features prominently throughout, as does black and white. Yet it’s only here in Kyoto that you’ll find the addition of sakura pink, a nod to the cherry blossoms found blooming along the river banks each spring, as well as imperial gold, a reference to Kyoto’s time as the country’s capital.

The sakura motifs begin as soon as you step through the front doors, with flower petals scattered across the walls and painted on the skylight above the hotel’s grand lobby staircase. This extends to the furniture in the restaurants and the guest rooms, with several pieces made with Nishijin textile, a heritage craft dating back to the Edo period, in custom shades of sakura and Fauchon pink.

Japanese ink works, or sumi-e, also feature in each of the guest rooms. Every room features a unique painting, while those in the Prestige Suites have been created by visual artist Kanako Sasaki and tell the story of the different seasons. Local photographers have also been tasked with showcasing the beauty of Kyoto, with the resulting landscapes featuring in guest rooms and corridors.

Le Spa Fauchon continues this theme with touches of pink, both vibrant and light. Indulge in a bath ritual, or the signature body treatment with a beauty oil created exclusively for the brand by KOS PARIS. There are three treatment rooms, with no restrictions on guests with tattoos.

The Arrival

Guests arriving in the city via Shinkansen from Tokyo, as we did, can hop in a taxi from Kyoto Station and reach the hotel in just 10 minutes. Alternatively, take the metro to Hankyu Kyoto-Kawaramachi Station and walk for seven minutes, or take the bus to the Kawaramachi-Matsubara stop directly outside the hotel.

After entering the hotel and passing the picture-perfect grand staircase, we head to the 10th floor to check in (although this has now moved to a different space). We are greeted with a tower of macarons and views over the city. Check-in is swift and paired with the macaron of the day (caramel, in our case), plus a very welcome iced tea.

The Room

More subdued than other areas of the hotel, guest rooms are mostly black, white and gold, with pops of pink. Little touches throughout constantly remind you of the fact that you’re in a Fauchon hotel – from the branded bed linens, to the lip-shaped soap holder in the bathroom. Golden décor reminiscent of bamboo next to the TV and Nishijin textile above the headboard provides a sense of place.

We’re particularly tickled pink by the Fauchon Gourmet Bar, a seriously upgraded version of a classic mini-bar. Inside the pink cabinet, you’ll find cookies, macarons, and traditional Japanese sweets given a French twist. A sweet touch is the tote bag with a Parisian-style Kyoto scene featuring the iconic Yasaka Pagoda, which you can take home as a souvenir.

The marble bathroom is another highlight, with his-and-hers bathrobes, pyjamas and slippers (one with pink piping and another with black) to luxuriate in after a bath. Alongside your standard toiletries, the room has face masks for the ultimate pamper session and a Dyson hairdryer for getting the glam on once you’re done.

Every room boasts views of the mountain ranges surrounding Kyoto, while the Higashiyama Heritage rooms face towards sights like Kennin-ji Temple and the Yasaka Pagoda.

The Service

Service is friendly and efficient. Breakfast comes in the form of a set menu, and when I find there are no options suitable for my dietary requirements, staff are quick to offer me alternatives (including a really fantastic French toast, which should definitely be on the main menu).

The Restaurants and Bars

For a boutique hotel, Fauchon L’Hôtel Kyoto offers a surprising number of dining options. Fauchon Pâtisserie and Boutique is the most visible, tempting passersby with its delectable selection of pastries. Here, you’ll be able to try (and take endless photos of) the brand’s famed macarons, an ever-changing rotation of cakes, and the bisous bisous treats, shaped like lips and available in different flavours throughout the year.

Making the most of the views from the 10th floor, there are three dining options across the space. The first, Salon de Thé, is known for its afternoon tea, and offers the chance to try Japanese matcha. Guests visiting the hotel’s tea salon can embark on a traditional tea ceremony which incorporates the Fauchon brand through the use of a pink teapot as well as a special locally inspired tea blend, One Night in Kyoto.

Le Bar Fauchon meanwhile serves up signature tea-based cocktails, draft and bottled beers, wines and champagne while signature restaurant Le Grand Café offers up gourmet bites plus seasonal local dishes by chef de cuisine Keiichiro Hayashi. Begin your day with fresh yoghurt from Kyoto Clover farm paired with fruit, followed by Kyoto Ohara Yamada Farm Heirloom eggs served your way.

Set menus crafted by chef Hayashi and Parisian chef Sébastien Monceaux are available for lunch and dinner, showcasing Japanese ingredients served in a French style. We had the pleasure of trying a vegetarian omakase menu during our stay, featuring dishes including spring vegetable tempura, avocado babloua and tomato coulis. Chef Hayashi saw this as an opportunity rather than an inconvenience, and the dishes from the fantastic set menu are now a part of the permanent à la carte offering.

Why Stay?

It would be all too easy for the Fauchon brand to have taken Fauchon L’Hôtel Paris and transplanted it into the heart of Kyoto with no changes. But these thoughtful elements blending both cultures, from the décor to the food, make it all the more appealing.

A stay here is a must for foodies, and by the end of your visit, you’ll wonder why more people don’t embrace living life in pink.

The Essentials

  • Rates: Classic Rooms start from AED 1,840 per night in low season
  • Phone number: +81 75 751 7711
  • Website: hotelfauchonkyoto.com
  • Address: 406 Nanbacho, Shimogyo Ward, Kyoto 600-8027, Japan