Tokyo’s best hotels offer outstanding features, including rooms with views toward Mount Fuji and balconies overlooking the Imperial Palace garden. By Kirsty Munro.
It’s exciting, confounding and vast but no-one will tell you it’s beautiful. Razed by fires, earthquakes and war over the years, Tokyo hasn’t retained much history. But resilience has its own beauty and Tokyo hums with positive energy. You can’t keep this city down.
Similar in size to Sydney but with eight times the population, Tokyo regularly tops city lists: highest GDP, busiest train stations, safest streets, best food. As chef Anthony Bourdain wrote, “If I had to eat only in one city for the rest of my life, Tokyo would be it.”
The city radiates out from the Imperial Palace like ripples in a pond and business areas are dotted along the Yamanote train line, which runs a 35-kilometre loop around the city. Shinjuku is the largest and busiest; the financial district is in the much calmer Otemachi area near Tokyo Station; and the tech industry clusters around Roppongi and Akasaka.
By day, Tokyo is rendered in grey and it’s all about work. But at night, when the lights twinkle and the streets are bathed in dreamy neon, you’re reminded that in the Edo period it was home to the “floating world” full of charm and fleeting pleasures.
When you step into the sumptuous lobby, the soft notes of the koto usher you into a world of discreet luxury at the top of one of the newest business towers, which connects to Otemachi Station. The staff can organise a private iaido lesson, where corporate warriors can learn swordplay and samurai etiquette, or a visit to Tsukiji fish market with chef Tsutomu Oba.
Business facilities: As expected of an Aman resort, it’s more about pleasure than business but they also know you have work to do. There’s a meeting room with state-of-the-art equipment and secretarial and translation services.
Wi-fi: Fast and complimentary throughout.
Food and wine: The Restaurant by Aman offers a fusion of Italian and Japanese cuisines with amazing views of Mount Fuji just before sunset. Unwind after a long day at The Black Bar, where almost everything – from the Black Monday cocktail to the Wagyu tataki with black truffle paste – is black. Cigar smokers are welcome at the hotel’s Fumoir, a clubby cigar and whisky lounge.
Fitness and wellbeing: This is where Aman shows its superiority. Along with a 30-metre lap pool, there’s a chic yoga and Pilates studio, a full gym with the latest machines, TRX equipment and spinning bikes, as well as an indulgent spa with large basalt onsen baths. All are open from 10am to 10pm.
Run route: Clear your head with a run along the popular five-kilometre Imperial Palace jogging route. It’s flat and safe, with no traffic lights.
aman.com; Otemachi Tower, 1-5-6 Otemachi, Chiyoda-ku
Park Hyatt Tokyo
￼Yes, this is the hotel from Lost in Translation. Luckily, the robes and slippers fit a lot better than they did on poor Bill Murray. The mid-1990s beige and granite interiors may be showing their age a little but the impeccable service and warm, quiet atmosphere far above the bustle of Shinjuku make this accommodation option a perennial favourite.
Business facilities: Multilingual staff at the 24-hour business centre can print extra business cards for you in Japanese and English (you always run out of cards in Tokyo). The hotel has some of the nicest meeting rooms in town, featuring warm wood tones, panoramic views and video walls.
Wi-fi: All guestrooms and lounge areas have complimentary high-speed wi-fi.
Food and wine: Have a late-night drink at the New York Bar, when the grey sprawl of Tokyo turns into a sparkling wonderland. The Peak Lounge set in a bamboo garden is the perfect spot for a casual meeting or quick coffee.
Fitness and wellbeing: You probably won’t see Scarlett Johansson diving into the sky-lit pool on the 47th floor but you can enjoy spectacular views of the city while you swim. Regular fitness options in the studio include tai chi and a candlelit sleep-inducing stretch class and there’s a fully equipped gym next door, all open from 6am to 10pm.
Run route: Shinjuku Chuo Park is across the road, with two marked run routes of 1.1 kilometres and 900 metres (the latter covers more interesting terrain). Obtain a run-route map from the hotel concierge to explore the wider neighbourhood.
3-7-1-2 Nishi Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku
The Ritz-Carlton Tokyo
This hotel is a celebrity favourite for its discreet entrance and impeccable service and you’ll find yourself cocooned in gilded luxury high above Roppongi, the tech hub and popular arts, embassy and nightlife district. Ask for a west-facing room to see Mount Fuji or opt for a Modern Japanese Suite, which combines classic tatami floors and sliding paper screens with comfortable king beds. A sleep-enhancing massage will take care of lingering jet lag.
Business facilities: Club Level guestrooms include a complimentary pressing service to get you ready for meetings and the multilingual concierges can handle anything. Aside from the usual secretarial services, attractive meeting rooms and document translation service, the hotel offers VolunTeaming for companies that want to enhance team-building through meaningful volunteer work.
Wi-fi: Fast and free throughout.
Food and wine: Hinokizaka, just off the main lobby, has sweeping views towards Shinjuku from the sushi counter and a series of private rooms for entertaining clients. Try some of the lightest, crispiest tempura in Tokyo or order a set kaiseki course of delicate seasonal dishes.
Fitness and wellbeing: There’s a small but up-to-date 24-hour fitness centre and a 20-metre pool and sauna on the 46th floor. If you leave your gym gear at home, you can rent everything from swimwear to running shoes.
Run route: Midtown Garden and the adjoining Hinokicho Park, just behind the hotel, is an easy two-kilometre circuit featuring an ornamental pond and possibly the world’s smallest basketball court.
Tokyo Midtown, 9-7-1 Akasaka, Minato-ku
Palace Hotel Tokyo
￼Fresh and pretty in its kimono-inspired shades of chartreuse, violet and gold, the Palace Hotel Tokyo was reconstructed on the site of the 1961 hotel built in anticipation of the Tokyo Olympics. The interiors have an airy, contemporary Japanese style with a hint of retro charm. Book a room with a balcony – a rare feature in Tokyo – to have breakfast overlooking the Imperial Palace gardens.
Business facilities: The 24-hour business centre has comfortable workstations with PCs and VoIP telephones. The sleek ’60s-style meeting rooms have the latest technology and glossy automatic doors that slide open to reveal a dedicated lounge.
Wi-fi: Fast and complimentary throughout. Guestrooms have universal adaptors and connection kits for your devices.
Food and wine: There are several elegant international dining options but Grand Kitchen has something no other restaurant in Tokyo can boast: a wide terrace right on the moat of the Imperial Palace. Royal Bar, re-created to echo the 1961 original with its authentic fittings, is where impeccably suited bartenders still make the best Martinis in town – stirred, not shaken, of course.
Fitness and wellbeing: The full-service Evian Spa aims to erase jet lag or you can do a few laps of the 20-metre indoor pool. The 24-hour gym has the latest cardio and weights stations. Under Armour fitness gear can be hired if needed.
Run route: The five-kilometre Imperial Palace jogging route is practically at the front door.
1-1-1 Marunouchi, Chiyoda-ku
Main image: Aman Tokyo