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Before and After: Palace Hotel Tokyo Is Way Ahead Of The Game

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  Site Where: 1-1-1 Marunouchi, Chiyoda-Ku, Tokyo, Japan, 100-0005
July 23, 2014 at 2:43 PM | by | ()

Hotel Okura might be preparing itself for a multi-year closure–demolition–redevelopment cycle next year (if the Monocle petition to keep it won’t throw a spanner in the works), but another iconic Tokyo hotel will have shrugged when they read that news and thought: been there, done that, way ahead of you.

Above is what Palace Hotel Tokyo looked like in late 2008, presiding over its own moat in its second incarnation, after starting life as the government-run Hotel Teito just after WWII. The following year it closed and reinvented itself over the span of three years into something worthy of the theme “Before and After” – check it out after the jump.

Now rising a much more considerable 23 stories, the hotel still occupies the same address of 1-1-1 Marunouchi, which means that unless you are a houseguest of the Emperor of Japan (we don't know your life), this is as close as you’ll get to staying at the Imperial Palace. Only the moat you see above separates the hotel from the palace grounds, with the Otemon Gate – the entrance to the publicly-accessible East Gardens of the Imperial Palace and once the main gate of Edo Castle – directly across the street.

The best way to take advantage of the building’s additional height is from one of the hotel's balcony rooms, meaning you can take in both knee-buckling views of the city and fresh air while sipping Japanese green tea and reading the morning newspaper.

A left on the big intersection you see above takes you to Tokyo Station in a few minutes, where you can access the city’s vast public transport network, as well as long-distance Shinkansen bullet trains to take you further afield. Otemachi station is accessible through an underground passageway directly from the hotel, but with 10 restaurants and bars and an Evian spa there is plenty to keep you entertained inside.

The 290 rooms start at nearly 500 square foot, which means there's plenty of room to spread out. We liked the simple aesthetic, interesting textiles, and very comfy bed. WiFi is free and worked reliably across three devices we used, everywhere except for a dead spot around the reception and concierge desks.

We’d probably spring for a balcony room rather than a Club room if we had to make a choice, though be warned that if you’d like to use the pool you need to fork over JPY2,060 (about $20) a day for the privilege if you’re not staying in a Club room. Given that entry-level rooms can easily go for a not inconsequential JPY50,000 (about $500), excluding tax, we feel the same about the additional $20 as we do about WiFi charges – we really rather not see them.

The bathroom had a dual entrance, one from the hallway, one directly from the bedroom. Every amenity you’d expect is there, from separate soaking tub, in-mirror TV, separate rain shower, to Toto heated-seat toilet. Toiletries are by Anne Semonin.

Both bathroom entrances can be closed off, which you know we appreciate. Stacks of fluffy white towels are made in Imabari, a city in the Ehime prefecture, known for its quality towels for over a century.

Even if you’re not staying here, it’s worth popping in when you invariably find yourself in this area of the city during a visit to Tokyo. On a nice day, you can’t beat a drink or a bite to eat on the moat-side terrace, and art lovers will find a pretty stunning art collection to browse in the public spaces – something we’ll show you more of later.

Rooms at Palace Hotel Tokyo start just under JPY50,000 ($500), excluding tax and run up to JPY100,000 ($10,000) for top-end suites.

[Photos: JasonD, JasonD for HotelChatter]

[JasonD paid a media rate of $285 excluding tax]

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