Staying at Tokyo’s first five-star luxury ryokan, HOSHINOYA Tokyo, is a profound cultural and culinary experience that begins the moment you arrive through the enormous entry door, crafted from a 300-year-old Japanese Hiba tree. Kimono-clad staff welcome you into the zen-like quiet and whisk your shoes away into a wall of bamboo boxes, where they will remain until you want to venture out again. This is your invitation to treat the entire 17-storey building as your home, as no uninvited people may enter this exclusive sanctuary, and what a treat it is to stay here!
Located in the Otemachi financial district, HOSHINOYA is close to the business and upmarket shopping area of Marunouchi and just a 15-minute walk from Tokyo Station. From here you can easily access all areas of this massive city on the suburban train lines and subways, but why would you? If you’re only here for a couple of days, I think you’ll want to take advantage of the many exclusive pleasures on offer.
Besides the free sake tasting and Grand Kagura show — an ancient form of juggling entertainment held every afternoon at 5 pm in the second-floor lounge, the hotel also offers an impressive collection of curated experiences and activities. Enjoy a private evening river cruise through the city’s historic waterways, a midtown helicopter flight, a rickshaw tour through old and new Tokyo, or a traditional tea ceremony. You can even observe sumo wrestlers at their morning training session before joining them for a traditional hotpot meal of ‘Chanko Nabe’.
Best Room for Two
There are 84 elegant guest rooms, with only six on each floor. Inspired by classic ryokans, a fully stocked ochanoma (like a club lounge) is shared by guests of that floor. Here you’ll find complimentary 24/7 refreshments including coffee, tea, sodas, rice cakes, Japanese sweets, noodle soups, etc.
The interiors carry the same sense of refined luxury, with plenty of traditional touches including ultra-comfortable futon beds and tatami-matted floors. Three room categories (Sakura, Yuri and Kiku) range from 41sqm to 83spm. Our spacious Kiku room featured a lounge area with dining table and chairs, work desk, generous day bed with a TV hidden away in the mirror opposite, and a large bathroom with shower and a deep Japanese bath.
The pillowy futons are laid out on a raised platform that runs the width of the room, with a wall of windows covered by sliding washi paper screens. When they’re opened in the morning, soft light washes in and the delicate metalwork which encases the building throws an amazing shadow-play of patterns. Yukata (casual kimonos) are available for wearing everywhere in the hotel, so don’t bother packing many extra clothes for your stay here!
One of the world’s top dining spots, Tokyo offers an incredible array of Michelin-starred and just plain fabulous restaurants. Still, the star of our entire trip to Japan was our dinner at HOSHINOYA Tokyo. With a network of hidden dining spaces on the basement level and only ten tables, you have to book well in advance to ensure you’re part of this incredible dining experience (check if there’s a package deal with your accommodation). And remember, no uninvited people may enter this exclusive sanctuary!
Rising star chef Noriyuki Hamada was the first Japanese chef to earn Bronze in the Bocuse d’Or, a prestigious gastronomic competition, and is known for his unique nature-inspired Nippon cuisine that engages all five senses. This Japanese/French-inspired culinary journey was a real highlight, especially as fantastic French wines were served with the nine courses (making it the best dining experience of our lives!). Not only is the food seriously divine but every dish is a work of art. We’re not ‘foodies’, but we would stay here on future trips to Tokyo just to have this experience again!
Spa and hot spring
With hot spring waters flowing up from 1,500 metres below the hotel (the only Tokyo hotel to offer this) the Otemachi Hot Spring Onsen on the 17th floor is a serious bonus to your stay. Sleek and modern in design, you can even gaze at the stars through a soaring skylight in the outdoor section while relaxing in the curative waters. The onsite spa offers a tempting menu of beauty treatments and massage, and you may find you spend a lot of time here on the 17th floor.