Cocooned In Subtlety

The PEAK Singapore|January 2020

Cocooned In Subtlety
Aman Kyoto’s minimalist design immerses guests in nature – and it can’t come at a better time.
Koh Yuen Lin

If you check into Aman Kyoto looking to be wowed, you will be sorely disappointed. Nothing stands out in this sprawling 24,000 sqm estate hugged by the densely forested foothills of Hidari Daimonji on one side and outlined by the gurgling Kamiyakawa River on the other. Everything blends in.

The latest addition to the Aman group, and the last Aman project in the lifetime of Kerry Hill – long-time friend and collaborator of Aman’s founder Adrian Zecha – is discreet to a fault. Hill fell in love with the gardens 20 years ago – it was he who told Zecha that this place, and this place only, shall Aman Kyoto be built, inspiring a decade-long courtship to woo the former owners of the estate – and his reverence for the space is expressed in the invisibility of the resort’s architectural design.

The low-rise units housing the restaurant, spa and rooms are uniformly clad in long strips of dark wood on the exterior, allowing them to disappear into the web of light and shadows cast through the branches of the trees. And when you step into your expansive room, there are no eye-catching elements, only floor-to-ceiling panels that run the length of the space, drawing your attention to the beauty of the foliage outside.

Apart from its generous 60 sqm size – approximately twice that of the shoebox studio units of today – the simply decorated rooms offer little hint of extravagance. Where are the branded amenities? The iconic designer furniture pieces? The perfectly composed little nooks for Instagram? For a resort with prices starting from $2,527 per night – breakfast not included even – it doesn’t seem to be offering much. Or does it?

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January 2020