Size: 83 square metres / Price: From US$1080 excl. tax (about A$1582) per night / Reviewed by Kate Symons / Details: hoshinoya.com/tokyo/en
At first glance, HOSHINOYA Tokyo blends into its smart surrounds – a high-rise flanked by high-rises in the city’s financial district. Yet it soon becomes clear, this is anything but a standard city building. On closer inspection, the hotel’s seemingly ordinary façade reveals itself – an intricate metal lattice, designed to mimic the kimono in both look and narrative. (Traditionally, kimono patterns were designed to be difficult to discern from a distance.) It is a striking first impression and the first hint that HOSHINOYA Tokyo is a very special place. The next hint comes moments later when an enormous door, made from a single cut of cypress, opens to the hotel’s simple, yet somehow grand, lobby. Here, calm exudes thanks to the soaring ceiling and prominent use of natural materials, as well as a most delicate welcome. The scene is set.
Each of the hotel’s 17 floors comprises six guest rooms and a lounge, or ochanoma, designed to encourage communal living. The complimentary sake, tea, coffee and snacks help, but it’s hard to leave the suite. I am staying in a Kiku suite, or executive triple, the most premium of the three room styles. Classic shoji screens adorn the huge corner allotment, allowing the external lattice to work its magic inside the room by way of its delicate shadow. The open-plan space includes a dining table, small desk and large sofa, and a futon-style bed with plush linens.
The walk-in robe comes complete with pyjamas and a traditional kimono. The former you are invited to wear on your floor and the latter you’re welcome to wear anywhere in the hotel. Shoes, though, are not be worn. In fact, the pair you arrive in are taken from you on entry and stored in a bamboo box. The tatami-matted floors throughout the hotel make this unique arrangement a pleasure.
Would it be a Japanese hotel review without mention of the toilet? A sleek black bathroom features an oversized tub, but it’s the bells and whistles – most of which I dare not try – of the high-tech toilet that makes the strongest impression. Lifting the toilet seat with my bare hands now seems a chore.
HOSHINOYA Tokyo is located in the city’s financial district, Otemachi. It is walking distance to the Imperial Palace East Gardens and well-connected to major sights and attractions via the city’s excellent rail network.
Nippon cuisine meets French culinary techniques at HOSHINOYA Tokyo’s in-house restaurant and the result is absolutely exquisite. Created by Executive Chef Noriyuki Hamada, a bronze medallist at the 2013 Bocuse d’Or World Finale (think of it as the culinary Olympics), HOSHINOYA’s 10-course tasting menu boasts wow factor to boot. Tough choice, but perhaps the most spectacular of the courses, at least visually, is the Five Flavours of Delight, a masterpiece of five delicate morsels, each representing one of the standard flavour profiles – sour, sweet, bitter, salty, and umami. Nothing standard about this, though. The precision is extraordinary. The experience, unmatched. In-room dining is also available with Japanese and Western options.
Where do I start? HOSHINOYA Tokyo is awash with special touches, but perhaps the most memorable of all is the in-house onsen. The two baths halls, separated by gender, are fed by hot spring waters drawn from 1500 meters below the ground. And above, as you soak, is a framed view of the sky, thanks to the dramatic open-roof chamber.