Tokyo is one of the world’s most enigmatic capital cities and its high-class offerings are exquisite in a way that only Japan can offer. Travel Associates Consultant Kelly West experienced these special moments in a recent luxury exploration of Tokyo, an adventure that took her everywhere from opulent suites to traditional streets.
New York Bar & Grill at The Park Hyatt Tokyo
The movie Lost in Translation has made this luxury hotel one of the most iconic in all of Japan. The views over Tokyo are incredible, and it was in the New York Grill that I had my favourite meal of the whole trip. Have you ever heard the expression ‘you could have cut the steak with a butter knife’? That’s how tender my perfectly cooked sirloin was.
Sumo Stable Ryōgoku
We enjoyed exclusive tickets to see the giant sumo wrestlers in training, which is a wonderful option for anyone visiting outside of tournament time. It is a completely different experience, because you get so close to the wrestlers that you can actually smell the sweat and hear the smacks and thuds. Tradition and respectful procedures are closely adhered to, and you must be quiet and still throughout the entire session.
Four Seasons Hotel Tokyo
Four Seasons is located right on top of Tokyo train station, and your suite window looks out onto train tracks. It sounds bad but they’ve made a feature out of it, and the glass is fully sound proofed. It’s a small, boutique property that would be ideal for train enthusiasts, especially those who are intrigued by Japan’s famous bullet trains. One excellent feature that I really liked was that the concierge meets you on your train platform, which is a big help in the maze that is Tokyo Station.
Tsukiji Fish Markets
I love going to local markets where you see things that are not altered by tourism. The Tsukiji Markets is a sprawling warren selling every type of sea creature you can imagine, and you can enjoy dinning, shopping and a lively fish market atmosphere. We enjoyed a private sushi making session right by the markets, where we rolled our own sushi and made miso soup from scratch, with all the bonito flakes and dashi broth that you don’t see at sushi train!
Mandarin Oriental Tokyo
You know how sometimes you just walk into a hotel and love it? If I was choosing a hotel in Tokyo, this would be among my top contenders. If you count the gourmet bakery, there are a total of 12 dining outlets within the hotel, so there’s no need to venture outside for a taste of fine-dining in Tokyo. The hotel starts on the 30th floor of the building and opens up into spectacular 360 degree views of Tokyo.
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I was surprised and delighted to see how popular the custom of afternoon tea is in Tokyo. In all the swish hotels you see ladies sitting down to dainty pastries and tea poured in delicate china cups - the dining rooms and seated lobbies become filled with feminine chatter and the clink of silverware on china.
The Japanese difference
I found everything in Tokyo to be like Disneyland, in a good way. Everything is so clean and beautiful, and the Japanese have a way of doing things that makes normal occurrences exceptional. As an example - I don’t even like crème caramel, but in Tokyo I had the most amazing crème caramel! It may have converted me for life.
Andaz Tokyo Toranomon Hills
This classy hotel is a Hyatt offering with an edgy spin. They don’t have check in staff, there’s just an iPad where you enter your details - just one of many modern flourishes that adds to the vibe. The cocktail lounge and inviting open spaces invite you to mingle with the other guests, which adds to the fun, funky atmosphere that I loved about this hotel.
Kimono and Rickshaw Experience
One afternoon we were dressed in beautiful traditional kimono and then packed up in a rickshaw for a ride through the streets of Asakusa. This part of Tokyo is very traditional looking, and the whole experience made me feel like I was immersed in authentic Japan. We rode past the stunning Sensoji Temple, where there are plenty of boutique stalls selling all sorts of traditional trinkets. I thought we looked pretty good in our traditional garb.
Ginza Ukai Tei
This is a beautiful traditional teppanyaki restaurant, furnished with Western and Japanese antique furniture and arranged so that every element adds to the delight of your dining experience. The succulent and flavoursome meat and vegetables are cooked in front of your eyes - but there is absolutely no throwing of food! They may toss an egg roll in your mouth in Australian restaurants, but it would be considered disrespectful in an authentic teppanyaki setting.
Aman Tokyo Spa
The Aman Spa is the best spa that I have ever seen. From the 30 metre pool surrounded by blissful lounges, to the fully equipped yoga and pilates studio, there are a multitude of ways to embrace ‘good health in harmony with nature’.