With traditional restaurants, temples and castles packed between towering skyscrapers, Kyoto is Japan’s cultural heart. MIMARU Shinmachi Sanjo is a comfortable, family-friendly apartment hotel close to the action of the city.
APARTMENT HOTEL MIMARU family-friendly hotel review
With traditional restaurants, temples and castles packed between towering skyscrapers, Kyoto is Japan’s cultural heart. MIMARU KYOTO SHINMACHI SANJO is a comfortable, family-friendly apartment hotel close to the action of the city.
When I duck under the traditional fabric noren hanging at the front of the hotel and step through the doors I’m immediately greeted by a chorus of konnichiwa from the front staff. The reception area is a cool respite, which is much appreciated after carrying my luggage through Kyoto’s narrow streets in the middle of summer. I’ve arrived around midday – check in usually isn’t until 3pm – but that’s no problem at all for the concierge team and I’m on my way up to my room within 10 minutes since the rooms were available on the day.
This is an apartment hotel squarely targeted at the family market. The smallest room, the Deluxe Family Apartment, accommodates four guests, with two single beds and bunk beds. I stay in the Japanese-style Deluxe Apartment, which forgoes the bunk beds and table and chairs for a traditional tatami matted area, where the chabudai (low dining table) and cushions pack away and a futon bed – which sleeps two – can be set up on the floor. The room can sleep up to six guests and also features a wooden sliding door to separate the bedroom from the dining and kitchen area, meaning you can stay up after the kids have gone to bed without worrying about disturbing them.
All rooms are equipped with a kitchen, fridge, microwave and induction cooktop, as well as nice plates and cutlery (and, of course, an adequate supply of chopsticks). The bathroom is spacious and has both a shower and a bathtub, plus bottles of soap, shampoo and conditioner. Other toiletries – including toothbrushes for that one family member that always forgets theirs – are available to take from reception. Also, there is a washing machine inside the room to keep your gear nice and clean.
There are plenty of dining options around the hotel and the English-speaking front staff are more than happy to give advice on the best places for any style of cuisine. Within walking distance you’ll find every type of traditional and contemporary Japanese cuisine imaginable, as well as a couple of Western-style restaurants. About a two-minutes walk away is Pizzeria Solono, a tiny restaurant that serves some of the best authentic woodfired pizza you’ll find anywhere (so authentic you’ll see the chef throwing more wood into the pizza oven every now and then while dining).
If home-cooked food is more your thing, there are plenty of konbini (convenience stores) within a few minutes’ walk where you’ll be able to find all the basics before cooking up a storm back in your room. You can also book restaurants in Kyoto with ‘Bebot’– a chatbot app in the smartphone placed in each room.
Especially for kids
You might be lucky enough to encounter an occasional event of Daruma Summer Club. The kids will love the Daruma Summer Club From Tuesday to Saturday each week, the club runs traditional Japanese games, arts and crafts in the morning, including master classes on manga animation and ink painting among other things. In the afternoon, they’ll explore Kyoto with a guide. You can book the kids in for either a half day (9.30am-12pm or 12pm-2.30pm) or a full day (9.30am-2.30pm), giving you plenty of time to do more adult-oriented activities. This is provided on a irregular basis and there might be some changes to the program.
Two hotels of APARTMENT HOTEL MIMARU were recognised by Mikihouse (child and family research and marketing institute) as the very first child-friendly hotels in Japan. The certified rooms are a safe space for toddlers and new borns and with plenty of helpful services, travelling families can safely enjoy their stay.
Kyoto is known as Japan’s cultural heart, and after spending a day wandering the city’s streets you’ll see why. Walk 15 minutes (or ride one stop on the subway) to the north of the hotel and you’ll arrive at Kyoto Imperial Palace Park. The park is the perfect spot for a family picnic, packed with meandering paths, trickling streams, and in early April, blooming cherry blossoms. And while the park would be worthy as a destination on its own, in its centre you’ll find the Imperial Palace, the home of Japan’s emperor from the 17th century until 1869, when the capital was moved to Tokyo. The place drips with history, and it would be easy to spend a whole day roaming the gravel paths around the traditional buildings and gardens.
A similar distance to the hotel’s west is Nijō Castle, one of the best-preserved castles from Japan’s feudal past that you’ll see anywhere in the country. The castle grounds look like they’ve come straight out of a Jackie Chan movie, with ornamental stones, manicured pine trees and a large pond.
Jump on a train (Karasuma Oike subway station is a five-minute walk from the hotel) and you’ll be able to access some of Japan’s most iconic spots. Take a 30-minute train ride and you’ll end up Arashiyama Bamboo Grove. The short walk through the towering stalks of bamboo is a must-do for visitors to Kyoto, but visit in either the early morning or late afternoon to avoid the big crowds
A 20-minute trip in the opposite direction gets you to Kyoto’s other iconic destination: Fushimi Inari Shrine, best known for the thousands of torii gates that arch over the walking tracks all over the side of Mount Inari. While it’s fairly packed near the base of the mountain (this is one of Japan’s most popular tourist destinations, after all), as you ascend the mountain (a four- to five-hour round trip if you go all the way to the top) the crowds thin out and you’ll often be the only ones in sight. There’s plenty of sidetracks that are usually overlooked by tourists but well worth exploring, so plan at least half a day to really do the place justice. Also, there are food stalls and restaurants along the streets which the kids will enjoy.
To enjoy the benefits of staying with MIMARU HOTELS, families can enjoy an exclusive coupon for Holidays with Kids readers:
Promo code: holidaywithkids
If you enter this promo code when making a reservation on the official website, readers will receive a special discount!
* Cancelling seven days or fewer before the day of your reservation will result in a 100% cancellation fee.
* No-shows will be charged in full.
* Applicable until 31 August 2020 (application period may be extended).
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