Tried & Tested

Hotel check: Mandarin Oriental

1 May 2006 by business traveller

What's it like? This new Mandarin Oriental (opened in December 2005) is set within the Nihonbashi Mitsui Tower, a 38-storey new-build with incredible views of Tokyo. As soon as you step inside you feel as though you must be in the city's finest hotel. There are two lobbies – one at ground level (but called level 1) and one at the 38th floor – and guest rooms must be reached by taking the ground-floor elevator to the 38th floor lobby,then a separate elevator to the guest room floors. Possibly the best experience in the hotel is walking down the huge staircase from the upper lobby to the super-stylish bar, when it seems that the lights of Tokyo are at your feet.

Where is it?Central Tokyo, in the historic financial district of Nihonbashi, closeto the shopping district of Ginza and the Imperial Palace. One great advantage is that the subway station of Mitsukoshimae is in the basement of the hotel building, and this is connected to the Ginza and Shinbashi lines. The airport is about an hour away by either train or limousine bus.

How many rooms?179 rooms and suites across floors 30-36. The main room types are deluxe (50sqm) and grand (60sqm) with several subcategories depending on layout and floor. There are five suite types but the pinnacle is the presidential suite at 250sqm.

Room facilities My Mandarin grand room felt huge and had west-facing views of the city lights, which are breathtaking at night. Décor is in soft creams,browns and pinks with contemporary-style furnishings including a huge workdesk with a black "technology" box containing all the equipment,neatly labelled, that you might need to connect, variously, your iPod, aptop, PlayStation and video camera to the hotel system. When I had trouble connecting up my iPod I requested help from the IT department and within five minutes my music was filling the room. There is free internet access through the plasma-screen TV, which you use via the wireless keyboard. I have used this in hotels previously and it can be slow and unwieldy, but this was very fast. Rooms have a delivery box next to the door which can be accessed from the corridor, so if you request something, staff do not need to ring your bell (a red light shows when the box is full).

Bathrooms are just as well equipped: a large wet area is kitted out with three shower heads at different heights and angles, like a sophisticated human car-wash. Another large box contains essentials from razors to a hairbrush and hair bands.There's a small plasma-screen TV over the bath if you don't have the energy to flip the blinds over the sink to watch the TV in the main room.

Restaurants and bars The hotel has veered away from traditional Japanese style for its leading restaurant, Signature, by serving Japanese-French fusion. On the 37th floor, Signature is the best dining option and has a private dining table for up to 10 people with views of the kitchen (costsY10,000/£48 to hire). The set lunch menu is Y5,000/£24 and set dinner menu is Y12,000/£57.45.

K'shiki has all-day dining and is a light, airy room for breakfast. A breakfast à la carte menu is available with both western and Japanese choices (I couldn't resist the pancakes with maple syrup and blueberry compote, Y1,200/£5.74). There is also Italian restaurant Ventaglio,which involves taking the elevator to the 38th floor, then the second elevator to the first floor, and then an escalator up to the second floor. The food is good but the restaurant is less atmospheric than the others.

Business and meeting facilities Business facilities are on the third floor of the main Nihonbashi Tower, and on the fourth floor of the next-door Mitsui Main Building,which is an old building that is now connected to the hotel. The 550sqmGrand Ballroom can be divided into three smaller rooms and has full audiovisual capabilities including 360-degree projection (there are 38projectors above the chandelier for this purpose). There are four banquet rooms seating up to 90 for dinner plus six meeting rooms between 35sqm and 70sqm. All have natural light. The business centre has two computers with high-speed internet, free to guests. Wifi is available throughout the hotel.

Leisure facilities The Mandarin has no pool, though it does have a vitality pool in the spa for lounging around in (swimsuits generally not worn). The 880sqm spa is the hotel's pride and joy and every bit as good as you would expect from the Mandarin Oriental. I opted for a two-hour ritual in which you can decide which therapies you want to combine. The spa suggests you arrive up to an hour before your treatment starts so you can enjoy the other facilities: as well as the vitality pool there is a dry sauna, crystal steam room and ice-fountain arctic refresher, plus a relaxation room with separate cubicles, mood lighting, beds with an automated recline control and a tray of drinks and snacks. I could have bedded down here but was called for my treatment, in one of five private corner suites with breathtaking views (there are also nine treatment rooms). I chose one of the exclusive signature treatments:the Adzuki ritual. This consisted of being scrubbed head to toe with an adzuki bean and salt combination, then receiving a full-body moisturising oil treatment and facial. My therapist was a true professional and, several weeks later, my skin still felt healthier as a result.

Verdict Other five-star hotels will soon come to Tokyo, including aRitz-Carlton, but it's difficult to imagine beating the Mandarin Oriental in style, views or service, with great facilities to match.

Price For mid-May, standard rates were Y71,500 (£342) for a deluxe room andY77,250 (£370) for a Mandarin grand room; promotional internet rates were Y56,550 (£271) for a deluxe and Y62,300 (£298) for a grand.

Contact Mandarin Oriental Tokyo, 2-1-1 Nihonbashi Muromachi, Chuo-ku, Tokyo 103-8328. Tel +81 33270 8800,

Sarah Maxwell

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