We're taking design notes from Maana Homes, a luxury boutique hotel in Kyoto that espouses "peace as the new luxury"

With the anxiety fuelled by the coronavirus pandemic, it's understandable that more of us are seeking a sense of calm in our lives. You see it with the explosion of mindfulness and meditation apps, as well as the growing desire to create clean, Zen-like surroundings at home.

When it comes to Zen, Japan reigns supreme. From the minimalist structures of renowned architect Tadao Ando to organisational experts like Marie Kondo, a desire for simplicity informs not just the Japanese aesthetic but their entire way of life.

There's no better place to embrace this ethos than in the ancient capital of Kyoto. While it is one of Japan's most popular tourist destinations, the city has only recently seen a surge in design-driven hotels—there's the arrival of Aman Kyoto in late 2019 and the upcoming openings of Ace Hotel Kyoto this month and Hotel The Mitsui Kyoto later this year, designed by Kengo Kuma and Andre Fu respectively. Established hotels aside, it is also ripe for independent brands like Maana Homes to thrive. 

(Related: Temples, Ryokans And Tombstones: A Slow Travel Guide To Kyoto, Japan)

For those looking for a more local experience, the starting point is to find a machiya—a traditional Kyoto townhouse—which is what differentiates Maana Homes from the rest of the players. Essentially, Maana is a collection of renovated traditional townhouses created with standards of five-star hotels in mind. The start-up brand was founded by a hospitality designer from Los Angeles and a creative director from New York who wanted to craft luxury vacation homes that marry style, substance and a strong sense of place.

(Related: Watch The Tatler Guide To Kyoto And Osaka)

“We look for homes with character and properties with intrinsic qualities such as good light, natural scenery and, of course, a charming neighbourhood,” says co-founder Irene Chang. Their incredibly calming retreats are curated to help travellers to take it slow and learn more about themselves. According to the founders, their spaces are designed to show that peace is the new luxury.

Through their thoughtful renovation of century-old houses in Kyoto, guests can enjoy two soulful spaces: Maana Kyoto and Maana Kamo. The former sits on a quiet street in a central district and the latter on the bank of the buzzing Kamo River.

By the end of 2020—hopefully, a time when we can all travel again—Maana will be introducing another four homes into the mix as well as a restaurant, all situated in Kyoto’s hip Higashiyama neighbourhood. But for now, follow Tatler's guide to #stayinghome so we can #traveltomorrow.