2-1-1 Takaramachi Nihonbashi Chuo-Ku Tokyo 103-8328Tokyo, Japan -See the map
Amy AdejokunSection editor
Warning: this is the top of the top! In terms of comfort, view, style and service. It's magical. Unfortunately, the price is less delightful! Although you might have to break the bank or win the lottery to stay here, it is one of the best hotels in the world. The M.O (as the Mandarin Oriental is known by those lucky enough to have stayed there) occupies the top floors of an ultra modern building, the only one in the district, overlooking all of Tokyo. When you hear that reception is on the 36th floor and that the guest rooms below continue down to the 30th floor, you'll understand that this is an upside-down hotel of sorts. Certainly an exceptional hotel in any case.
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The hotel is excellently located in Nihonbashi, a stone's throw from the central station. The underground station (Mitsukoshimae) beneath the hotel provides a direct line to Ginza in 2 stops, with Shibuya and Asakusa just a little further away. The fish market is just a 10-minute taxi ride away. Perfect when you need to get up early in the morning. Narita International Airport is an hour and a half away via the Narita Express.
The majority of the 179 guest rooms are identical: 50m2, chestnut flooring in the entrance hall, carpet in the bedroom area, and high ceilings. One whole wall is taken up by a large window with a staggering view. The modern Japanese decor features fabrics in shades of green on the walls, light wood panelling, and dark wood bed heads and furniture running the length of one wall. Being Japan, the technology is state-of-the-art, and all connected via an interactive entertainment system. The television is huge, and the quality is impressive. There are even international channels available. This is the country of ideograms, therefore you'll find a varnished box containing pencils, rubbers, pens and refined paper in the rooms.
The bathrooms can be concealed by a Venetian blind, and are fitted with a beautiful bathtub, separate shower, and separate Japanese toilets with various functions. An array of luxurious complimentary toiletries are also provided, as well as a yoga mat, not to mention an umbrella. The weather forecast is displayed on the central console that controls all the devices. Guests can choose whether they want a sunrise or sunset room, or a view of Mount Fuji, although due to the urban pollution it is not often visible, though it is more so in winter. The view of the Imperial Palace, on the other hand, is guaranteed. Everything is relative: as the lowest guest rooms are on the 30th floor, those between the 33rd and 35th floors are considered as the so-called 'noble floors' and are therefore more expensive! The crème de la crème is the Executive suite, with its 2 corner rooms and therefore 2 large windows providing a breathtaking view. The long bathrooms have a glazed wall, meaning you can take a shower or a bath while admiring Tokyo. At this height no one can see you, except maybe the helicopter pilots.
While the tower may seem huge, the hotel is small (only 179 guest rooms) as the first 29 floors are taken up by the Mitsui bank, which owns the building and, of course, the hotel. Incidentally, if you're going that way, head to the 3rd floor where you'll find a passage leading to the old vaults with their superb doors. The only criticism of the Mandarin hotel is the absence of a swimming pool. Otherwise, it has everything: a gym with a view, and the exceptional Spa on the 37th floor with all corner rooms. Guests can enjoy treatments whilst gazing out across Tokyo, with Tokyo's version of the Eiffel Tower directly in their line of sight. Note that this top class Spa offers azuki wraps, using the Japanese red bean. It takes no time at all to get to reception on the 36th floor thanks to the ultra fast lifts. Cleverly, the lifts leading to the guest room are not the same ones, and the same goes for the 2 floors above reception. It can be a bit confusing at first with all the changes, but you soon get used to it.
We'll say it straight away: all the restaurants afford a panoramic view of the city, and more obscurely, so do the toilets! The sumptuous breakfast buffet is served on the 38th floor. On the floor just above you'll find an excellent French Michelin star restaurant, and a Cantonese-style Chinese restaurant (Mandarin Oriental is originally a Chinese hotel chain) open 20 hours a day where the dim sum are to die for. Also among the restaurants: a sushi bar, and the most outstanding, the Tapas Molecular Bar, which seats a maximum of 8 people with two sittings per evening. 2 chefs, trained at the legendary El Bulli restaurant in Spain, prepare 25 tapas dishes right in front of your eyes over the course of 2 hours. Few people have seen molecular cuisine prepared: both spectacular and delicious. A gastronomic discovery that needs to be booked in advanced, well in advance.
To top it all off there is a tea room, with afternoon tea accompanied by a trio of musicians, a pastry store and 24/7 room service. Of course it's all very expensive. Except lunch. The Japanese refuse to pay dearly for their lunch, so all the restaurants offer menus at more than reasonable prices. For example, the menu at the Signature, the Michelin star restaurant, costs around £25. On the ground floor of the building, the Japanese Fauchon store sells, among other things, intricately decorated fruit at insane prices.
The Peninsula Hotels is originally a Chinese chain, but being used to attaining excellence in terms of quality in the hotel industry it just had to branch out to Tokyo, where the very best awaits visitors. The hotel opened in 2007, after 25 years of careful searching for the best location. A mix of the finesse of Japanese crafts and modernism, their Japanese masterpiece is not far from being the perfect hotel.
Remember the film from not so long ago: Lost in Translation? Well it was filmed in the Park Hyatt hotel in Tokyo. The bar is still in the same place, with a view of the whole city. At night it is truly magical, and in the daylight you can see Mount Fuji with its perfect cone-shaped peak. This really is an exceptional hotel, where the refinement and quality are unrivalled. The guest rooms are situated between the 42nd and 52nd floors - in other words you'll have Tokyo literally at your feet.
It's not what you think: there are no Japanese women in tiny bikinis ready to welcome guests. 'Strings' refers to actual string, of course. In this case it refers more specifically to the strings of a musical instrument, a balance of tension and relaxation. The architect was instructed to create a calming environment: mission accomplished. The renovation works carried out in 2008 on this old hotel have been a model of perfection, even if you won't come across many Japanese at the Strings, seeing as the hotel is mostly popular with Western tourists. Part of the excellent Intercontinental chain, the hotel has a yield policy (optimising prices) that will often get you a great deal in Tokyo.
It's not the size of this ochre brown building located at the heart of the Shinagawa district that impresses, but rather that it is a lovely place surrounded by gardens, cherry trees and manicured lawns. It is also not overly large. Its kitsch side actually adds to its charm. The only real reasons you need to stay here are that you will be very comfortable and the rates are very reasonable for a hotel in this category. Another reason for visiting it.
A beautiful 37-storey tower right in the middle of this slightly out of the centre but pleasant area. The architecture and the shiny marble hall probably won't do much to impress you, but it should be noted that the 1,000 guest rooms inside come at very reasonable prices and levels of comfort.