There has been much talk about Kitoki Inn. Long before visiting the new Japanese ryokan-inspired retreat on Bowen Island — Nexwlélexm, in the Squamish language — I’d heard it was special. “Unique,” “elegant,” and “serene,” I was told by friends who were lucky enough to snag reservations after it opened late last summer, a gorgeous little slice of Kyoto nestled into a blue-green forest of cedar and fir. Now, having visited, I can confirm that Kitoki Inn is all those things: sophisticated, secluded, minimalist in the Japanese tradition. But I’ll also add that it’s the sexiest little getaway around.
If you need someplace to escape to for quality time with someone special — and after 20 months of pandemic stress, you probably do — Kitoki delivers. It’s scarcely a 40-minute journey from downtown Vancouver, and that’s including a short and scenic ferry ride into Snug Cove, which is sort of Bowen’s “main drag,” and is as cute as it sounds. A sharp right off the ferry sit a couple of dockside gems: Tell Your Friends café, which serves tasty coffees and breakfast sandwiches, and Branch on Bowen, which is one part taco and ice cream stand, one part charming shop filled with well-curated gifts like pottery and glassware, cookbooks, candles, and clothing.
Up the street, you can scope out dinner options for later: Barcelona offers Spanish tapas made with local ingredients, Tuscany serves wood- fired pizzas, and Rustique Bistro is French-ish with vegan options. You can also grab a spot by the outdoor patio fireplace at Doc Morgan’s, a gastropub serving oysters on the half-shell and Haida Gwaii halibut and chips. Pop into Copper Spirit Distillery for local vodka, rye, or gin, or drive a short distance to Riley’s Cidery, where over 1,000 varieties of apples grow, and select a cider to enjoy in your accommodations later on.
Check in to Kitoki and explore your cabin, one of three charming 320-square-foot hideaways made using Douglas fir felled on the property (where owners Mitsumi Kawai and Rob Leadley also live). Everything is thoughtful, from the selection of Japanese teas and mini-fridge stocked with yogurt and ginger−matcha granola for breakfast to the extremely posh bath products by local company Sangre de Fruta to the quilts on the bed handmade by Mitsumi’s mother, Miju. A quaint on-site shop is stocked with complimentary books and games to borrow, as well as for-purchase snacks like matcha Kit Kats, rice crackers, and instant udon and miso soups.
The pièce de résistance of the property, and hands-down its sexiest feature, is the clothing-optional bathhouse with a handmade knotted noren at its entrance and a Japanese garden out back. “You may hear owls hooting or frogs croaking,” says Kawai of the bathhouse’s charms. “The smell of the misty forest mixing in with the scent of the fireplace in the garden can be intoxicating.”
Round out your trip with a seaside stroll along Cape Roger Curtis (also a great place to watch the sunset) or a hike up Dorman Point, where you can gaze over the water to Vancouver in the distance. Of course, you could simply spend all your time on the island ensconced in the sweet atmosphere of Kitoki Inn — bathing, snuggling, reading, drinking tea…Doesn’t that sound perfect?
Learn more about Kitoki Inn here.