Tokyo Travel Guide
If you’ve been to Tokyo, you know it’s possible to go from historic serenity in one of its temples to futuristic frenzy among its skyscrapers in a split-second. That proximity of the traditional and modern comes through at the Peninsula Tokyo as well; pick the right aspect and you can gaze out from your technology-filled room over the Imperial Palace, and when it’s time for a ride in the house car, your options range from a restored 1934 Rolls-Royce Phantom II to a very 21st century Audi R8 sports car.
Not much longer to wait!
The Andaz Tokyo Toranomon Hills will officially open its doors on June 11, making it the first Andaz in Japan and the 12th Andaz hotel overall. Here are a few words from the hotel's general manager:
“We are thrilled to introduce the Andaz brand to this exciting city to become a bridge between Tokyo’s fascinating past and dynamic future,” said Arnaud de Saint-Exupéry, General Manager of Andaz Tokyo Toranomon Hills. “We look forward to offering the boutique lifestyle hotel concept to both guests and locals, which is something quite new for the Japanese hotel market. The Andaz brand is deeply rooted in local culture, and we are committed to providing an unscripted, Japanese-inspired experience to guests that will help them feel truly connected to the heart and soul of Tokyo.”
We couldn't find a room online for June 11th (it said the hotel was sold-out) but we did find a special opening offer for June 16th for about $375 a night for an Andaz King. Remember, this is Andaz, so complimentary WiFi, minibar snacks and non-alcoholic drinks are included.
The list of places present and future to have an Andazm is growing rapidly (hello Munich), but nearest on the horizon is Andaz Tokyo Toranomon Hills, opening this summer. Most of the visuals we’ve seen so far of the 52-story tower have been renderings, but now we have what looks like actual photography of the rooms.
There will be 164 of them on the tower’s top six floors, which means stupendous views of both Tokyo’s urban maze and, if on the right side of the building, the Imperial Palace in the distance – giving local cousin Park Hyatt some serious killer view competition. A ten-minute walk from Andaz takes you to Shinbashi station, connecting you to the Yamanote line, which loops through central Tokyo and is sure to be one of your main modes of transport when exploring the city.
It's no secret that hotel rooms are used for trysting but we were in for quite a shock when we saw this happening at the Conrad Hotel in Tokyo. Yes, that's right. We're talking about the two teddy bears getting too close in a cup inside one of the guest rooms.
All joking aside, the snapshot from Ken E. Lee in the HotelChatter Flickr Pool gives us an up close and personal look at the sweet teddy bears, which are only available to guests. (The hotel also gives guests a Conrad duckie too.) You can purchase these directly from the hotel but you know, you have to go to Tokyo to get it. Otherwise, eBay it.
Rates start at around $400 a night for a King City room with seriously stunning views of the skyscrapers in Ginza and Shiodome. Check out more of Photo: Ken E. Lee/Flickr]
It looks like Andaz Hotels made a very good decision in adding Tokyo to their list of new cities, now that Tokyo has been selected as the site of the 2020 Summer Olympics. (The Andaz is set to open sometime next year, giving it plenty of time to get things in order before the crowds arrive. )
As with all host cities of massive events like the Olympics, we can expect many more new hotels to pop up as the date approaches, as well as lots of renovations by existing hotels. Remember London last summer? Insanity.
Of course, we need to contain our excitement as these Olympics are still a good SEVEN YEARS AWAY. Nevertheless, according to the Wall Street Journal, Tokyo plans on having 87,000 hotel rooms available within a 10 kilometer radius, and 140,000 rooms in a 50 kilometer radius. And Forbes.com believes the rates and prices will remain "fair" especially compared to other cities (cough, NYC, cough.)
We just wonder if more hotels will break out special Hello Kitty suites , perhaps with an Olympics theme?
Nowhere does cute quite like Japan does cute, so we're not all that surprised to hear that the Tokyo Prince Hotel is currently offering a Hello Kitty-themed suite.
While it's not the first Hello Kitty themed room we've come across in Japan, it is rather more family friendly than our previous find; the Hello Kitty S&M Room at Hotel Adonis, Osaka
Design Hotels opened their second member hotel in Tokyo (the first is the Park Hotel Tokyo) in August: The Gate Hotel Kaminarimon. We’re excited about this. Why, you may ask? Well, it’s a given that it's a sleek and 'purty' hotel with some great design features, but also because it's located on the edge of one of the city’s oldest heritage districts known as Asakusa, and the thriving, dizzying modern metropolis.
On one side you have the Kaminarimon entrance gate (Thunder Gate), which stands approximately 38 feet high by 38 feet wide, and, on the opposite end of the scale, there’s the Tokyo Skytree, the tallest freestanding broadcast tower in the world at 2,080 feet.
To make the most of this amazing view, the hotel has its minimalist lobby on the 13th floor (we hope none of you are toooo superstitious). There is also a 14th-floor terrace that’s open 24/7 to take in the scene.
Final stop after the stretch
Sunrise yoga. Noontime meditation. Rush hour water aerobics. Really, we thought we'd heard of everything when it comes to lower impact fitness classes offered at hotels. That is, we thought we'd heard of everything until we got wind of the "Good Night Sleep Stretch" at the Park Hyatt Tokyo.
Sure, the hotel may be more famous for its cloud-high New York Bar where pivotal scenes of Lost in Translation were filmed, but unlike the bar with its evening cover charge, the Sleep Stretch is a free amenity for guests.
So what happens? Every Wednesday and Saturday night at 9pm in the Aerobics Studio of the hotel's Club On The Park, guests come together with an instructor to "relax and stretch [their] entire body before bed to promote a restful sleep." Simple and relaxing. And did we mention it was free?
Signature at the Mandarin Oriental Tokyo
So let's say you're flying long-haul from the US to Japan, and you're looking forward to a stay at the Mandarin Oriental Tokyo. After arrival, you'll have a quick shower, a quick nap and then head down to the hotel's Michelin-starred restaurant to fill up and recover from jet lag, right?
Right. Except you can now begin that experience in advance of landing, since Japanese airline ANA just announced they've redeveloped their onboard menu to include offerings from Signature, the Mandarin Oriental's French-inspired restaurant. They'll hit the traytables of Business Class flyers from December through February, following September-November specials from a Michelin 2-starred ryokan (traditional Japanese hotel) in Yugawara Onsen.
ANA won't be the first airline to partner up with Mandarin Oriental, either. German flag carrier Lufthansa signed up the Mandarin Oriental New York's Asiate chef to do something similar, but they were first with it. Still, better food in the skies is always the best news, especially where it involves Michelin-starred hotel restos.
[Photo: Mandarin Oriental]
It's always 11pm somewhere in the world...
We like it when hotels tell us what to do. After all, they're the experts (or at least should be) on local activities, when to drink, where to visit—plus, it's always good to add a bit of structure to your hotel stay. And that's just what the newly refurbished Palace Hotel Tokyo is offering on their website—the home screen makes subtle itinerary suggestions like the best times to eat sushi, have a cocktail, visit the spa...or just laze in bed (one of our favorites).
Opening next month (May 17 to be exact), the 290-room Palace Hotel Toyko will be a re-envisioning of the original Palace Hotel, which opened in 1961 as Japan's first ever mixed use office-hotel building. That hotel was then razed in 2009 to make way for this newer, sleeker, more modernized version. Ten restaurants and bars, a Club Lounge, an Evian spa and free WiFi are some of the amenities the hotel is advertising, though we're mainly interested in the fact that all rooms supposedly have views of the gardens at Tokyo's Imperial Palace.
A quick tip for a stay at the ridiculously well located Peninsula Tokyo: pay the extra to secure a Deluxe Park View, because that "Park" bit actually means Imperial Palace gardens. They may be out of focus in the photo above, but can you blame us for being far more focused on a large Japanese breakfast spread at the moment?
Rooms on the park side of the hotel have commanding views of the Imperial Palace and its acresbring mini binoculars to watch the processions, full of pomp, without having to even venture outside and join the throng of photo-snapping tourists.
At night the view is just as pleasant, since having all of these private gardens next door means it's one of the only areas in the metropolis to get truly darka luxury on its own.
Before you can step into the preserved 1960s modernist environment that is the grand lobby of the Hotel Okura Tokyo, you first must arrive. For many that means being driven up and around to the hotel's off-the-street- entrance, where there'll be one valet for each door that needs opening, and more still to whisk away your bags.
Anyone who has experienced classic 5-star service at a Japanese hotel can tell you that this is par for the course; the need to touch anything mundanedoors, luggage, room keyscan be erased completely by some attentive hotel staffs, and if you chose to stay at the Okura then you likely already know this.
This attention to detail, which starts at the arrival of your car, continues all the way through to the teacakes served at the hotel's patisserie. Essentially it's the art of perfection at practice.