Nestled into Kyoto’s historic Gion district, The Shinmonzen looks as if it’s been around for 100 years. Legendary Japanese architect Tadao Ando, delivered a masterful example of contextual design by imbuing the property with the style of a traditional machiya townhouse (kawara roof tiles, wooden facade). Hotelier Paddy McKillen says the property is the sister to Villa La Coste, a paragon of art and architecture he opened five years ago in the south of France. Overseen by Rémi Tessier, the nine suites done up in bamboo and silk are a modern interpretation of a Japanese ryokan with hinoki wood bathtubs, sliding paper shoji screens, and low-rise futons on tatami.
Similar to McKillen’s other properties—The Connaught, The Berkeley, and Claridge’s, which just wrapped a monumental renovation—contemporary art is a central theme. Spread across the lobby, corridors, and guest rooms, the roster of blue-chip artists on show includes Louise Bourgeois, Damien Hirst, Yoon-Young Hur, and others. Coming soon: a Jean-Georges–helmed restaurant designed by New York–based architect Stephanie Goto, ground-level patisserie, and spa run by a resident reiki master.