Tried & Tested

Hotel check: Tokyo Station Hotel

26 Jun 2015 by Jenny Southan

BACKGROUND

One of the city’s most historic properties, the Tokyo Station Marunouchi Building is 100 years old this year.

Opened one year after the station was built, the redbrick building was badly bombed during the Second World War but has since been reconstructed.

The six-year project (during which the hotel remained closed) was completed in 2012. The central plaza opposite, which is currently undergoing work, will be finished in 2017.

Before the big revamp, there were 58 rooms – now there are 150 across four floors. The independent property is a member of SLH (Small Luxury Hotels of the World).

WHAT’S IT LIKE?

The building is a tourist attraction in itself, crowds of Japanese people frequently congregating outside to take photographs.

There are some attractive features inside as well, such as the domes that are decorated in flower and animal motifs and can be viewed from the station concourse. (There are also bedrooms around the dome.)

Throughout the high-end hotel you will come across black and white photos of how the property looked in its early years when there were no high-rise buildings around.

The interiors are classic European in style ­– far removed from a traditional Japanese aesthetic. No tatami, futons or kimono here. Staff are very polite and helpful, though, and security is improved by keycard access to all guest corridors.

Bedrooms are smart, elegant and businesslike, with a palette of green, gold, purple and blue. Some face outwards while the others POINT towards the station, although trainspotters will be disappointed as you can’t see anything through the frosted windows.

You can access the hotel directly from the south side of the station or the street where taxis can do pick-ups and drop-offs. A private one-way door off the lobby leads to the station master’s office.

WHERE IS IT?

The hotel is directly connected to the JR Tokyo Marunouchi station, making it a convenient place to stay when travelling in or out of the city by train.

Direct express services from Narita airport take 60 minutes, while services to Haneda airport take 30 minutes. The site is considered the 0km point in Tokyo, from which all other distances are measured.

The property is also opposite the Imperial Palace, allowing the emperor direct access to a special waiting room before boarding his bullet-proof train carriage.

The surrounding district of Chiyoda is a central hub for businesses and embassies. The hotel is within walking distance of the Imperial Palace Gardens, which is good for running.

ROOM FACILITIES

All rooms were either new or given a facelift in 2012 to ensure consistency in terms of guest offering. Entry-level Classic room start from 23 sqm, while suites go up to 120 sqm.

In terms of standard features and amenities, they all come with free wifi, Mitsubishi LCD televisions, air conditioning, humidifiers, JBL iPod docks, safes, irons/ironing boards, mineral water, tea/coffee making, a hairdryer and morning paper.

All bathrooms feature high-tech Toto toilets, Japanese bathing stools in the walk-in showers, yukata robes and tubs. Bulgari bathing products can be found in suites, while lower category rooms have Gilchrist and Soames.

My Palace Side room had cream and beige décor with a gold and burgundy carpet. Tall windows faced the palace and let in lots of light unless the curtains were drawn.

Japanese power sockets were helpfully located in bedside tables and there was a unit adjacent to control the lights. There was also a small workdesk and a minibar. I slept well on the firm bed and was undisturbed by any noise from outside – it was very quiet.

RESTAURANTS AND BARS

There are two bars and eight restaurants spread across the property – ranging from the Lobby Lounge for afternoon tea to formal French restaurant Blanc Rouge, which has three private dining rooms.

In addition, there are three Japanese outlets – Sushi Aoyagi, Yakitori Seo and Shichi Jyu Ni Kou – along with Ken Takase (Cantonese) and Enoteca Norio (Italian). The Oak bar serves cocktails, while Camellia is designed to look like a train carriage.

I ate breakfast in the buzzing fourth-floor Atrium restaurant, which is filled with light coming through a high pyramid-shaped roof. It is only open for guests in the morning, or for private hire. There was an extensive buffet offering international and Asian food.

BUSINESS AND MEETING FACILITIES

The Tokyo Station Hotel is a good option for event organisers thanks to its plush, gleaming event spaces decorated with crystal light fittings.

The largest venue is Houo on the first floor – measuring 288 sqm it can accommodate up to 324 delegates theatre-style.

On the same level is 110 sqm Youko (40 people banquet-style) with polished parquet floors and natural light, while 80 sqm Kiri is in the basement and can be divided into two.

LEISURE FACILITIES

A contemporary, Zen-inspired spa is located in the basement and is open to guests as well as members from outside. There are plunge pools and Japanese hot water bathing pools (you must be naked to use them.)

There is also a well-equipped gym (open 7am-11pm weekdays, 10am-9pm Saturdays and until 7pm Sundays) with fitness gear available for rent.

VERDICT

This is a smart, upscale business hotel that benefits from a unique heritage and location. The revamp has seen extra rooms and floors added, and a return to its former glory as a grand station hotel.

FACT FILE

  • HOW MANY ROOMS? 150 rooms and suites across seven categories (Classic, Palace Side, Dome Side, Maisonette, Royal suite, Ambassador suite and Maisonette suite)
  • HIGHLIGHTS Location, location, location. The free wifi, refreshed interiors and extensive dining options are also a plus.
  • PRICE Internet rates for a Palace Side room in July started from £231.

Jenny Southan

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