Tried & Tested

Hotel check: Mandarin Oriental Tokyo

14 Jul 2015 by Jenny Southan

BACKGROUND

The Mandarin Oriental opened in mixed-used Nihonbashi Mitsui Tower in 2005, making it ten years old this year. It has been undergoing gradual renovations to the interiors, so despite being a decade old, it still looks sleek, contemporary and classy.

In more recent times it has become known for being a culinary hotspot. At the beginning of the year, a pop-up residency from “best restaurant in the world” Noma arrived – Denmark’s star chef Rene Redzepi bought his entire team of 65 people over to serve up avant garde tasting menus to more than 3,000 people in January and February (there were 62,000 on the waiting list).

For those that missed out, the hotel has Tapas Molecular Bar, which earned a Michelin star this year. A French-style gourmet shop was relaunched last March on the ground floor.

WHAT’S IT LIKE?

Hotel rooms are located on the 30th to 36th floors of the Nihonbashi Mitsui Tower, with the 38th floor housing the main reception (take lifts up from the ground-floor lobby where taxi drop-off is), as well as the gym and various dining outlets. (Floors 29 and below are mainly for offices.)

The décor throughout the hotel is a blend of modern Western and Japanese. The third floor is for meetings, while the second level has a Mediterranean restaurant. A smaller building (Mitsui Main) is directly connected, and has various business and event facilities.

The Mandarin Oriental is one of Tokyo’s best five-star properties, with your every need catered for by the facilities provided, but also the intuitive, attentive service from the staff. It’s all about the details – from the personal service boxes (for laundry, post, shoes and newspapers) outside rooms, to Mandarin-branded cotton sleepwear laid out on your bed at night.

WHERE IS IT?

In downtown Nihonbashi, a few minutes’ drive from Tokyo station and with basement access to the Mitsukoshimae subway. It is just over 70km to Narita International airport, and 20km from Haneda International airport.

ROOM FACILITIES

All rooms have full-height windows with sofas and work desks looking down on the city (some also offer a view of the new Sky Tree tower or Mount Fuji), along with separate baths (some freestanding) and walk-in showers. Toiletries are Bottega Veneta (bigger bottles in suites).

There is a twice-daily maid service with bottles of water left in the evening. In terms of technology, wifi is chargeable but rooms are fitted with LCD TVs (45 inches or bigger) and an audio system that can be synched with your personal devices. Room service is 24 hours and minibars are provided.

Entry-level Deluxe rooms are spacious at 50 sqm, and come with supremely comfortable beds made up with goose down duvets, Rivolta Carmignani Italian sheets and a choice of pillows from a menu. Mandarin also provides white cotton pyjamas, towelling robes, slippers and traditional yukatas, which are available for sale.

Higher category suites are more spacious (from 90 sqm) and come with separate living areas and huge bathrooms. The interiors vary but the general look blends grey marble, bamboo floors and golden wood with a palette of moss green, black, cream, brown and white.

My room was the kind you could quite happily spend an evening or two working in or watching TV – peaceful, nicely lit, well furnished and easy to settle into. I also liked discovering the elegant Mandarin Oriental stationery in the desk for sending hand-written letters.  

RESTAURANTS AND BARS

The hotel has 12 F&B outlets including Sense for Cantonese cuisine, Sushi Sora, K’Shiki for all-day dining and the Pizza Bar on 38th.

I had dinner at Tapas Molecular, which proved one of the most memorable meals I have ever eaten. Sitting at a marble counter in front of the chefs’ preparation area, each person is given a toolkit wrapped in a cloth containing all the utensils they need to consume the multi-course meal they are about to embark on.

Menus, meanwhile, are printed on retractable tape measures. (You need to inform the staff in advance of any dietary requirements.)

As you can see from these pictures, the food is incredibly artistic, but rarely what you expect it to be: the mushroom is actually a perfect roast potato; the cigar a kind of spring roll with edible ash; and the poached egg on toast, a coconut jelly sphere filled with mango purée on a piece of sweet brioche.

You should also be prepared have smoke pouring out of your nostrils as you consume frozen chocolate mint balls steeped in liquid nitrogen – just don’t let it touch your tongue as it burns. Mad concepts, surprising textures and some really delicious flavours make this a true culinary adventure. If you’re sad you missed Noma, this makes a great alternative.

BUSINESS AND MEETING FACILITIES

A 500-person capacity ballroom (plus a 200 sqm foyer) and wedding chapel can be found on the third floor of the tower, while four more banqueting halls (for 20 to 100 people) and six meeting rooms (seating eight to 20 delegates in each) are on the fourth floor of the adjacent (interconnected) Mitsui Main Building. There is also the Cellar for gourmet French lunches or dinners in a private room for six to 11 guests.

Conferencing technology is state-of-the-art, including 360-degree projections in the ballroom, as well as high speed wifi and a business centre with printing, translation services, copying, two workstations, and two private boardrooms for up to four people in each.

LEISURE FACILITIES

The spa (open 9am-10pm) is located on the 37th floor, while the gym (open 6am-1pm) is on the 38th. The former features four treatment rooms, five VIP suites and segregated (male/female) hydrotherapy/vitality pools facing floor-to-ceiling glass looking out on the city. There is also a sauna with city views, a steam room, relaxation lounges and rain showers.

While there is no on-site swimming pool, guests can use the nearby Konami sports club, which the hotel has an agreement with. Joggers can head for the nearby Imperial Palace Gardens. On the third floor is a beauty salon and, next door, there is the famous Mitsukoshi department store.

VERDICT

A fantastic five-star hotel that is still going strong after ten years. It provides destination dining, and excellent leisure and business facilities, as well as generously appointed bedrooms with well thought-out amenities. Staying here is a pleasure.

FACT FILE

  • HOW MANY ROOMS? 157 rooms (Deluxe, Deluxe Premier, Deluxe Corner and Mandarin Grand), and 21 suites (Executive, Mandarin, Oriental and Presidential).
  • HIGHLIGHTS The panoramic city views, the views from the vitality pools in the spa, the luxurious rooms and the extraordinary Tapas Molecular bar. The service is also flawless.
  • PRICE Internet rates for a Deluxe room in September started from £337.
  • CONTACT Mandarin Oriental, 2-1-1 Nihonbashi Muromachi, Chuo-ku, Tokyo; +81 332 708 800; mandarinoriental.com

Jenny Southan

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