Business trip: Tokyo
If your business is government related, or you just want a peaceful location in the heart of town, check into the Capitol Hotel Tokyu in the Akasaka district, a popular holdover from the 1960s (the Beatles stayed here), which was razed and replaced with a 29-storey tower in 2010. Room entries, large bathrooms and sleeping quarters are cleverly separated by a sliding, translucent shoji screen, or panelled room divider, which provides both privacy and light in the well designed, minimalist rooms, which overlook the National Diet building, the Prime Minister’s residence and the peaceful, 500-year-old Hie Shrine. The locally-owned hotel is also a very good value compared to pricier, better known international chains.
Insiders say that the concept of design-forward hotels has not fully blossomed in Tokyo (though Hyatt’s trendy Andaz brand is set to open in 2014), but several luxury hotels float high above the flashy city on the upper floors of office towers, providing a distinctly different experience than their terrestrial counterparts.
The 248-room Ritz-Carlton Tokyo is perched in the top nine storeys of Midtown Tower, Tokyo’s tallest skyscraper. Large, 52sqm rooms are classically elegant, in typical Ritz-Carlton style with richly stained wood furnishings and cosy feather beds. The exclusive Club level on the 53nd floor provides round-the-clock food and beverage offerings for those unable or unwilling to descend to the cacophonous Roppongi entertainment district at street level. Take a break in the 2,000sqm spa occupying the entire 46th floor, where early morning bathers can peer out of the floor-to-ceiling windows to see the sun’s first rays hit Mount Fuji from the lap pool or Jacuzzi.
The Park Hyatt Tokyo in Shinjuku, famous for its starring role in the 2003 film Lost in Translation, remains near and dear to visitors – it is consistently ranked the top hotel in Tokyo by TripAdvisor. This modern 177-room accommodation occupies the top 14 floors of the 52-storey Shinjuku Park Tower, consisting of three glass-topped spires that provide exhilarating light to the hotel’s public spaces, including the Peak Lounge and tricked out fitness centre (with a giant 8m by 20m lap pool). The hotel feels sleek and modern, yet warm and cosy – for example, arriving guests first walk through an airy atrium and then through a small library to reach the check-in desks, before ascending via elevator to the serene rooms, accented with jewel-tone fabrics, wood, art and books.
The 200-room Shangri-La Hotel, Tokyo crowns the top 11 floors of the 37-storey Marunouchi Trust Tower next to Tokyo Station. Uniformed hotel staff greet guests arriving by Shinkansen train trackside for an escort up to the sumptuous, chandelier-encrusted perch. Guests in the hotel’s super-exclusive Horizon Club on floors 36 and 37 enjoy impeccable service, complementary food and beverages, use of private meeting rooms, late check in or check out privileges and expansive views over the city and Tokyo Bay.
Unless well versed in the Tokyo restaurant scene, visiting executives out for a celebratory meal are best served by the abundance, diversity (and multilingual menus) at hotel restaurants. As an added bonus, your Japanese counterparts will likely be excited by an invitation to dine at an international hotel.
Chef de cuisine Stefan Resch and his team at the New York Grill enjoy the same spectacular view as patrons, with the open kitchen surrounded by floor-to-ceiling windows on the 52nd floor of the Park Hyatt Tokyo. That view, plus a menu packed with prime Japanese beef, seafood and poultry, a 1,600-bottle wine cellar and live jazz drifting in from the adjacent New York Bar have been drawing an international crowd for 18 years.
Dine on the city’s finest Cantonese cuisine in the elegance of a Chinese garden overlooking the busy streets of Marunouchi at Hei Fung Terrace in the Peninsula Tokyo. For an unusual celebration, book the chef’s table in a glassed-in nook in the restaurant’s busy kitchen.