Palace Hotel Tokyo – Good, but no locals

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Overview: A luxury hotel designed for foreigners
Strengths: Terrific location for financial-related business trips, notable dining, balconies
Drawbacks: Room had an unpleasant odor, Virtuoso late check out didn’t happen
Notable: This is a hotel for foreigners.  Japanese don’t stay here.  Locals do eat here.

A recent business trip brought me back to Tokyo for several nights last month.  In the past, I’ve stayed at the Aman, Four Seasons Marunouchi, Peninsula, Park Hyatt, Okura, Imperial and the hotel formerly known as the Four Seasons Chinzan-so.

I’ve been fascinated with the Palace Hotel for many years, but had never stayed here previously.  The property directly overlooks the Imperial Palace and underwent a complete reconstruction (not just a renovation) beginning in the late 2000s.

The property is very nice and offers splendid views with good service.  Both based on my observations and discussions with my local business partners, the hotel is a spot where foreigners stay – not where visitors to Tokyo from Japan would stay.

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Those same business partners, however, took me to lunch at the hotel – where most of the diners appeared to be locals!  Speaking about the property, indeed, they said it was a spot for locals to eat for something fancy – but not a place to stay.

All that being said, as a foreigner, you’ll find this to be a very nice hotel to stay at.

I booked a club room via a Virtuoso agent, though I found the application of the Virtuoso program to be less than optimal.  Upon check-in, the desk clerk advised me I was upgraded, but the upgrade wasn’t particularly clear – as the room appeared to be consistent with what I booked.  The Virtuoso breakfast did not include room service – I was told club or lobby restaurant only.  The Virtuoso potential (but not guaranteed) late check out (i) took too long for the hotel to consider and (ii) was ultimately not offered.

Palace Hotel Lobby
Palace Hotel Lobby

The corridors were very quiet and was decorated with pleasant art.

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My room had a notable odor upon entry.  I acclimated to it within a few minutes, and didn’t notice it much thereafter.  Everything in the room was in very good condition, consistent to the attention to detail so common in Japan (and unimaginable in the U.S.).

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A thoughtful bench in the room foyer
A thoughtful bench in the room foyer

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The bathroom included all of the technology you’d expect in northeast Asia!

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There was a small welcome gift waiting for me.

Welcome gift
Welcome gift

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The balcony offered notable views.

Palace Hotel - Balcony View
Palace Hotel – Balcony View

In my closet, I found the longest shoe horn I’d ever seen!  (It was quite nice to use.)

Giant shoe horn
Giant shoe horn

I had snacks one evening and breakfast one morning in the club lounge.  I didn’t take photos of the club, but did take one of the nibbles.  The staff was very attentive and offered the sort of attentive service that is only offered in Japan.

Club lounge nibbles
Club lounge nibbles

Room service dinner one night (taking calls with the office in New York).

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The hotel has a well equipped gym and a large (by hotel standards) pool – with views of the Imperial Palace.

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Dining in the lobby restaurant (Grand Kitchen) for breakfast was very good, though the ambiance a bit chaotic.  The restaurant was dominated by foreigners.  I had lunch at Wadakura, which was very good – and clearly the domain of locals.

Grand Kitchen (foreigners only!)
Grand Kitchen (foreigners only!)

* * * * *

While my stay was fine, I wouldn’t go out of my way to return to this property.  The Peninsula is similarly priced and offers an overall higher level of service.  The Aman, at a higher price point, offers a much more exclusive experience.  I’d prefer either to this property.

When I lamented that the Palace Hotel was a “foreigners hotel,” my local partners suggested that I look at the Hoshinoya for my next stay.  (http://hoshinoyatokyo.com/en/) I was warned I’d be one of the few foreigners here.  Sounds good!

Details
Palace Hotel Tokyo
1-1-1 Marunouchi, Chiyoda-ku
Tokyo 100-0005 Japan
+81 3 3211 5211

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