Overview: A high-luxe in-city hotel
Strengths: Rooms, service, views, dining, facilities
In January 2015, I was on a two+ week Asian road show. (More details on the overall trip to come at some point in the future.) Whenever possible, I like to end my Asia trips in Tokyo, as it is the Pacific Rim city where I find myself most at ease. This trip was no exception.
The Aman Tokyo had just started its “soft open” in late 2014 and I was keen to give the property a try. Though the property was still in opening mode, my stay exceeded expectations in essentially every regard.
My colleague and I arrived at Haneda from Seoul and were met by a host from the Aman as soon as we cleared customs and immigration. Aman’s pick-up service included both a host and a driver. The host walked us to the vehicle (a Range Rover) and he also joined us for the 30-minute ride to the hotel. Cold towels and water were waiting for us in the car. The vehicle was equipped with Wi-Fi as well. (I don’t recall the cost of the ride, but I do recall a different colleague who met us at the hotel via Narita mentioning his cost was about US$500. Ours was less.)
Our bookings were via a Virtuoso agent, but the Virtuoso contract wasn’t in place, so there were no specific benefits afforded to us. Nevertheless, the hotel certainly treated us (and seemingly every guest in our party) like VIPs.
The hotel is located on the top floors of the Otemachi Tower. This tower is brand new, and is the headquarters of Mizuho Bank. Being on the top floors, the rooms offered expansive views of Tokyo, even from lead-in rooms.
Being on the top floors also attracted a few jabs from some of my Japanese business counterparties. They lamented that the Chairman of Mizuho should not have allowed a “damned Singaporean hotel” to have their rooms above the Mizuho Chairman’s office. (Ethnic rivalries remain alive and well in the Pacific Rim.)
We were met in the porte-cochere by the rooms division manager and one other staff member. They escorted us up to the main lobby of the hotel and then onward in a separate set lifts to our rooms.
Regular readers will know that I am not easily impressed; I can say without qualification that this hotel has a “wow” lobby. Soaring easily 40 feet (using space that would otherwise be unusable interior space), the lobby offers a sense of contemporary grandeur that I don’t recall in any other hotel ever.
Though my room was in the lowest room category, a Deluxe Room, it was very well sized and offered unobstructed views of the Emperor’s Palace and Mt. Fuji. I don’t think you’ll find that in any other lead-in room in Tokyo.
The check-in formalities were handled in my room.
A bottle of wine and a small set of nibbles welcomed me to the property.
The bed is the sort of bed that when you got in it, you knew you were in for a treat.
There was a step-down going towards the window, where a small sitting table and day-bed were provided.
Non-alcoholic beverages in the mini-bar were complimentary. The juices in the bar were extraordinary. (These were also served with breakfast in the restaurant.)
The bathroom was crisp and contemporary, and included both a shower and a deep, ofuro-style soaking tub.
Being at the end of a road show, laundry was getting tricky. I needed to get a shirt pressed. Of course, due to being in the soft opening, the hotel’s laundry facilities were not yet open. The rooms division manager, who escorted me to my room, said she would iron my shirt for me personally and return it before she left. Indeed, the shirt was waiting for me in the morning and was perfectly pressed.
There were other little thoughtful details around the room.
The room corridors were long, and wrapped around the high ceiling of the lobby.
The next category of room (Premier) actually faces the other direction, and does not have the Palace or Fuji views. While they are slightly bigger, if I weren’t going for a suite, I would stick with the lead-in category at this property as even that room size was more than sufficiently sized.
One morning, I went to the restaurant for breakfast. I was the only one in the restaurant. The restaurant is off to the side of the main lobby. It has very high ceilings and expansive windows.
I selected the full breakfast, and it was a wonderful treat. Everything was prepared perfectly.
In addition to the open dining room, there were several private dining rooms on a mezzanine level, overlooking the main dining room.
The second morning of my stay, I ordered breakfast in my room. It came remarkably quickly, and was also very good.
The center of the lobby was filled with rock formations and a shallow water pond. Both added to the sense of calm throughout the lobby.
For several hours each day, a lady played traditional Japanese music on a Koto (Japanese harp). These also added to the calmness. (Sorry for the photo quality.)
At the opposite side of the lobby, you find the bar/lounge and a separate library. We had guests in for drinks one night in the lounge. Everything was prepared well, but the service was a bit slow. (We were the only guests and there was plenty of staff – I attribute the slight slowness to working out the kinks.) There was no need to sign a check.
The Library also had a very comfortable feel to it.
You could reserve a whisky locker or a cigar locker if you planned to be a regular.
To get to the pool, gym and spa, you take a lift from the lobby to a separate floor. Each time, I was greeted at the lift when I arrived on the pool floor and was escorted to either the pool or gym.
The pool is a sight to behold. My photo doesn’t do it justice. The water was cool but not cold, and quickly became pleasant to be in. There were plenty of sitting areas (which I suspect go largely unused) and small shower area.
The gym was also remarkably well equipped. I forgot to take photos in the gym, but it was very much an upper-end hotel gym with high ceilings and plenty of light. An attendant was standing by at all times.
I did not get to visit the spa.
* * * * *
I don’t say this lightly: The Aman Tokyo is definitely one of the best in-city hotels I’ve ever been to, if not the best. I truly felt as if I was in an oasis, away from the hustle and bustle of the city down below. Nearly every luxury hotel seeks to deliver this feeling – and the Aman really does.
Since my stay, I’ve continued to hear sporadic criticism of this property. I can’t, however, point to any detailed reports or specifics. While any stay can have an issue or two, based on the combination of Japanese service culture and Aman approach to service, I struggle to imagine a scenario with anything beyond trivial oversights.
Based on my experience, I would have no hesitation to return to the Aman Tokyo.
The Otemachi Tower,
Tokyo 100-0004, Japan
Tel: (81) 03 5224 3333