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Palace Hotel Tokyo, Marunouchi

Loyal customers at the Palace Hotel feared that the essential atmosphere of the 1961 original would be lost when it was torn down and rebuilt from scratch. They needn’t have worried. Yes, the new 290-room hotel that was unveiled in 2012 is sparkling and modern, the sunny rooms with their generous bathrooms and Japanese bed linen are a major upgrade, the Evian spa is a state-of-the-art retreat, and the moat-side terrace and lobby lounge are smart additions. But the feel of the old place is still there. The hotel’s Japanese identity is never forgotten, from the highly rated restaurants to the shopping arcade, which has been filled with an imaginative selection of Japanese products and handicrafts. One welcome returnee from the old hotel is the dimly lit Royal Bar, which still has its original counter from 1961. The new Alain Ducasse-produced restaurant, Esterre, combines French techniques and Japanese ingredients. And, of course, there’s that thrilling view over the Imperial Palace. 

1-1-1 Marunouchi, Chiyoda-ku
+81 (0)3 3211 5211
palacehoteltokyo.com

 

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Park Hyatt Tokyo, Shinjuku

Now that many other international chain hotels have made their mark on Tokyo, it is easy to forget that the Park Hyatt was one of the first. More than two decades in, the sky-rise luxury hotel remains a firm favourite. Although the entrance (along with a café-deli) is at ground level, the rest occupies the top floors of a Kenzo Tange-designed skyscraper in Shinjuku. There are 177 rooms, including 23 suites, but there always seems to be a quiet hush in the corridors.

Popular with visiting celebrities, the hotel has been a star in its own right ever since it featured as the setting for Sofia Coppola’s Lost in Translation. The New York Grill and its bar on the 52nd floor are consistently good and the hotel has been meticulously maintained and gently renovated over the years to keep it fresh. 

Rooms come with Aesop bath products, crisp linens and mesmerising views across Tokyo; larger suites also have a carefully chosen library of books. The gym and swimming pool will encourage anyone to exercise and the spa is spectacular, with a good selection of running shorts, thick robes and jinbei pyjamas for guests to use. 

3-7-1-2 Nishi Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku
+81 (0)3 5322 1234
tokyo.park.hyatt.com
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Yamanoue Hotel, Ochanomizu

The Hilltop Hotel – Yama no ue in Japanese – is a one-off. Founded in 1954 in a building from 1937 that was previously used by occupying US forces, the hotel sits on top of Surugadai Hill in Kanda. With Meiji University and dozens of bookshops nearby, the area has a strong intellectual bent and used to be frequented by writers such as Yukio Mishima. The Hilltop can’t boast luxury facilities but it has an old-fashioned charm that is increasingly rare. Regulars keep coming back for the popular tempura restaurant or to snack on Mont Blanc cakes in the busy coffee parlour. All the rooms have western-style beds but ask for a washitsu if you want tatami floors and shoji screens. This hotel might not be for those who are looking for international five-star luxury but it’s refreshingly different. 

1-1 Kanda Surugadai, Chiyoda-ku
+81 (0)3 3293 2311
yamanoue-hotel.co.jp

Images: Kohei Take

 

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