Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2011

Four Seasons

The tagline of this refined luxury hotel near Ginza — "fifty-seven rooms fifty-seven steps from Tokyo Station" — is spot-on (hotel porters will even meet hotel guests on the Narita Express platform). Its intimacy practically guarantees personal service, and in Four Seasons style, the expert staff pampers guests without being cloying. Thanks to the landmark skyscraper location and floor-to-ceiling windows, every room has a view, but the best accommodations are those that overlook the city's main train station — and the sleek and shiny shinkansens (bullet trains). The décor is contemporary minimalist throughout, accented with dramatic Oriental flower arrangements and a mix of sumptuous fabrics. Don't miss a soak in the hotel spa's traditional onsen bath, a workout in the sky-high fitness center, or a tour of the nearby Tsukiji Fish Market, where a hotel staff member will escort you and offer insider advice. There, for breakfast, try the freshest sushi in the world.

Insider Tip:Indulge in a "Tokyo Chic Afternoon Tea," with mini Wagyu burgers, Japanese-style pastries, and churros, at the Ekki Bar & Grille.

Room to Book: One-Bedroom Suites are located on the corners of the hotel and feature oversize bathrooms with beautiful spoon-shaped tubs.

Mandarin Oriental

Located near Tokyo Station in the Mitsui Tower, the Mandarin Oriental rises above the historical merchant district of Nihonbashi — and enjoys unprecedented city views. Inside lies a sophisticated and modern oasis of calm. Hushed public areas complement its 179 understated rooms (including 22 suites), which feature the latest and greatest technology amenities — massive television screens will make you feel like you have your own private theater. The hotel's exceptional restaurants include authentic Cantonese at Sense and French-inspired food at Signature. But for a unique dining experience, reserve one of the seven seats at the intimate, Michelin-starred Tapas Molecular Bar, headed by Jeff Ramsey. In additional to standard treatments, the award-winning on-site spa, with its sauna, steam room, and pools, offers more unusual rituals, including Japanese kiatsu — a technique involving acupressure and energy work, performed in rooms with outstanding vistas. Plan extra spa time for a soak in the power-jet "vitality and tonic" pools after your treatment.

Insider Tip:Stroll through Sembikiya, one of Japan's most treasured fruit shops, located on the first floor of the Mitsui Tower.

Room to Book: The Mandarin Corner room has two full glass walls (with views from the 36th floor), one of which runs right through a glorious bathroom with sunken bath and "rainforest" mist shower.

Park Hyatt

Years after its starring role in the hit indie film Lost in Translation, the Park Hyatt Tokyo — housed in the upper floors of a handsome steel Kenzo Tange tower near Yoyogi Park in Shinjuku — continues to draw moviegoers and discerning travelers alike. For years this was the Tokyo hotel to stay in, and a Hollywood star-spotting in one of the restaurants or lounges was practically guaranteed. Other luxe hotels have since opened and some celebrities have moved on, but the 178-room Park Hyatt Tokyo continues to offer some of the best amenities of any property in the capital. In a city where space is at a premium, its generous 500-square-foot rooms are a standout with their rare 2,000-year-old Hokkaido water elm paneling, deep soaking tubs, and far-reaching views. The 47th-floor swimming pool, complete with glass roof, is an oasis above it all. Afternoon tea in the peaceful Peak Lounge also offers a quiet respite from the city's bustle. If the skies are clear, have lunch on the 40th floor in Kozue and gaze upon Mount Fuji as you nibble away on your bento box.

Insider Tip:Lunch at the New York Bar & Grill consists of an impressive buffet laden with appetizers and desserts.

Room to Book: The Park View Room has soaring vistas in two directions with a deep soaking bathtub that overlooks the city.


The Ritz-Carlton's first hotel in Tokyo commandeers the top nine floors of the city's tallest structure, Tokyo Midtown Galleria, with close proximity to the bustling Roppongi District, giving it instant cachet. The 248 rooms extend up to the 53rd floor, giving the hotel bragging rights for having the highest rooms in the city. Not surprisingly, the views are truly awe-inspiring. And with free high-speed Wi-Fi and in-bath flat-screen televisions, the rooms are decidedly more modern than other Ritz-Carltons — fitting for this cutting-edge city. Don't miss a traditional Japanese breakfast, with panoramic views of Mount Fuji, at Hinokizaka. The restaurant also houses a reconstructed 200-year-old teahouse (reserved for private dining). The Sunday brunch at French-influenced Forty-Five includes free-flowing Dom Pérignon — perhaps the best way to start any day.

Insider Tip:Ask for south/east-facing Tower Deluxe or Club Tower Deluxe rooms for the best city views, including the Eiffel-like Tokyo Tower.

Room to Book: Room No. 5305, the Club Millenia Suite, measures more than 861 square feet, with views of Tokyo Tower — even from its glass-walled bathroom. The hotel is also home to the largest suite in Tokyo — The Ritz-Carlton Suite, with more than 3,300 square feet — but space does not come cheap, so be prepare to pay, and big, for these high-flying accommodations.

The Peninsula

With a prime location on a corner facing the Imperial Palace and Hibiya Park, and within walking distance of Ginza and the newly named "Golden Triangle" (Hibiya, Marunouchi, and Yurakucho), The Peninsula Tokyo wowed travelers when it opened September 2007, book-ending the city's hotel boom. Its tower houses 314 spacious rooms, including 47 suites, each with stone accents, warm woodwork, and Japanese lacquer touches — as well as high-tech touch lighting and Lavazza espresso machines. In a city that is notoriously difficult to navigate, the concierge staff here is especially skilled, able to score tables at Michelin-ranked restaurants or find bilingual guides to navigate you through the boisterous Tsukiji Fish Market. Dining in? The atmospheric Hei Fung Terrace restaurant serves exceptional authentic Cantonese food.

Insider Tip:The most coveted seats in the house are in the lobby for the Peninsula's signature (and popular) afternoon tea and at the bar in the top-floor restaurant, Peter, in the evening. Book ahead!

Room to Book: Ask for one of the rooms overlooking the majestic Imperial Palace.