Fly See Stay Experience:
The Mandarin Oriental Tokyo hotel is sophisticated luxury with a nod to Japanese culture. Its location and convenient access across major train lines makes it an ideal place to stay and explore Tokyo. Efficient service, incredible views and good selection of restaurants. An excellent choice for business and leisure travelers.
Incredible views of the city Efficient and polite service, but lacked warmth
Close to major shopping areas Nihonbashi is not a big draw for leisure travelers
Award-winning spa Open shower concept not suited for everyone
Liam Neeson and I could be in the same bed. I have to admit the thought did cross my mind as I entered the fabric-decorated elevator of the Nihonbashi Mitsui tower, on my way to the 38th floor Sky Lobby of the Mandarin Oriental Tokyo.
Now don’t get your “Oh-my-gosh-isn’t-she-married?” 100 % Egyptian cotton bed sheets into a knot. It’s just that Liam Neeson and I happen to share the same taste in luxury hotels in Tokyo. He has said that of all the hotels he has visited, his favorite is Mandarin Oriental, Tokyo, “where the level of service and care was beyond expectation.”
Location – Nihonbashi – A Mix Of Modern and Heritage
The Mandarin Oriental Tokyo is centrally located in Nihonbashi, an area of Tokyo that is primarily known as a financial and business district. For business and leisure travelers to Tokyo the hotel is in an ideal location because of the eight minute drive from Tokyo Station.
Tokyo Station is important to travelers as it is a major train station hub in the city. It is the first stop into Tokyo from Narita International Airport on the N’EX and it is also where you can catch the Shinkansen to travel outside of Tokyo. The hotel can additionally be accessed underground from the Mitsukoshimae (Ginza, Hanzomon lines) and Shin-Nihonbashi (Sobu Line Rapid) stations.
All this means that the hotel’s location makes getting to most areas of Tokyo very convenient. For me, at the top of that list is Ginza – any respectable luxury (window) shopper’s Mecca. Ginza is just a five minute drive from the hotel. While there are other luxury hotels close to Tokyo Station, read on for why I think Mandarin Oriental should still be at the top of your list.
By the way, it should be said that Nihonbashi district itself does have some cultural noteworthiness. The area dates back to the 17th century and was home to the country’s first department store, Mitsukoshi, along with many Japanese handicraft stores that still exist today. For example, the hotel’s symbolic fan was created by Ibasen, a store in Nihonbashi that has been in business since 1590! Travelers to Tokyo can peruse department stores and these centuries-old shops for authentic kimonos, washi, and other travel mementos.
Design – Sophisticated Luxury, Japanese Aesthetic
There are many things I love about the Mandarin Oriental chain of hotels. One of them – The Mandarin Oriental gives good lobby.
Whether it’s Vegas, Tokyo or New York, I look forward to entering the lobby of these hotels because I expect it to be pure sensory delight – beautiful and breathtaking while being subtle, sophisticated and detail-heavy.
The hotel lobbies in these locations take full advantage of the drama of height. They soar some 30+ storeys high with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking cities famous for their skylines – the flashing lights of The Strip, the natural beauty of Central Park and in this case, the never-ending vastness of Tokyo.
The Tokyo property, which is Japan’s first Mandarin Oriental hotel, occupies the 30-38th floors in Nihonbashi Mitsui office tower, a gleaming Cesar Pelli designed building.
The hotel’s inspirational design theme is “Woods and Water”. As an ode to Nihonbashi’s history of artisans and Japanese traditions, this theme is expressed throughtout the hotel using natural materials and fabric.
Rooms – Generous Space, Incredible Views
If your introduction to Tokyo starts with the Mandarin Oriental Tokyo, you could easily get the wrong idea about the size of living spaces in this metropolis.
The rooms, located between the 30th -36th floors, are among the largest hotel rooms in the city. Walking in, I was immediately struck by the spaciousness, calming feeling and neutral palette.
And then there’s the view. Day or night, the room’s views are there to elicit multiple wows. I spent a good chunk of time just staring out at the city so beautifully set against Mt. Fuji in the distance (I got lucky – it is best seen on clear days).
The hotel’s rooms also offer views of Tokyo Bay, the Imperial Palace garden, Ginza, Tokyo Station and Shinjuku.
I loved the wall decorations in the room which I found out are called Isegatas. These are sheets used in preparation for dyeing kimonos.
As for the bed, well, Liam (we are on a first name basis) says he likes his bed “quite firm, not too soft” and that the Mandarin Oriental takes care of that. While I do agree with him, what I enjoyed more was the pillow menu.
After looking through the options, I thought I was quite subtle when I handed over the pillow menu to the husband and pointed to the last option on the list – a therapeutic non-snore pillow.
For myself, the idea of sleeping on a horsehair pillow, being a visual person, wasn’t working. So I opted for the aromatherapy pillow. Any chance to get my calm on with lavender – I’m taking it. Pregnant women and side sleepers take note – they offer a body pillow!
I must say, the Mandarin Oriental Tokyo really stresses serenity. Rather than the customary chocolates on pillows or the dreaded towel-origami (really, I’m good without a towel-turned-swan), the hotel offers an aromatherapy fragrance, Lohas, made from essential oils and natural grain alcohol distilled from Japanese barley yeast to scent my room, pillows or perhaps my bath.
All said and done, the room is a blend of serene Japanese touches and modern technology – yucata robes to lounge in, flat screen TV to enjoy and then, there’s the Toto – to experience.
Bathroom – A Mini-Spa
A great hotel room has a lot to do with an equally great bathroom don’t you think? I’ve said it before – it is the first thing I check when I walk into a hotel room. Or it’s the first thing I get my travel partner to check for me when I think it might be sketchy.
The bathroom at the Mandarin Oriental Tokyo – now that’s one bathroom I can vouch for. Keeping with the serenity vibe, the bathroom is like a mini-spa. Three shower heads, a deep tub, double sinks, calm-inducing toiletries and then, there’s the toilet – the ultra-hygenic, ultra-comfortable and hyper-sanitary Toto. These things are the Jetsons of toilets – right down to the extra deodorizing and um, front and rear cleaning.
Restaurants – A Microcosm Of Tokyo
There is a reason that a search of the hotel on photo-sharing sites like Flickr result in photo after photo of gastronomic fantasy (besides images of the views from the restaurants). The 11 options for food and drink at the hotel are a microcosm of what Tokyo is like for the variety of food in the city. It is a delight for food connoisseurs, food lovers, heck for anyone that has eaten a meal before. And this is coming from a vegetarian talking about a culture heavy on seafood and meat.
Choices range from Cantonese, Japanese, French and Italian to what Mandarin Oriental Tokyo is known for – its Michelin-starred molecular cuisine restaurant, Tapas Molecular Bar– with seating for eight and 20 plates over two hours. I missed out when it came to food at the hotel. While I did enjoy dining at K’Shiki, their Asian inspired spot, I would have preferred to try Tapas. For a list of restaurants at the hotel, click here.
Spa – Award-Winning
Yes, the bathrooms in each of the rooms are like mini-spas but don’t let that be a reason to not visit what the hotel refers to as “A path to wellness in the sky.”
The hotel’s luxe, intimate spa is 36 storeys high with floor to ceiling windows throughout with simply stunning views of Tokyo. It’s not surprising that the Mandarin Oriental Tokyo Spa was voted number five in Conde Nast Traveller Reader’s Spa Awards in 2011.
This is the kind of spa where I felt an overwhelming need to use each and every part of the spa. Good thing there is enough to keep me busy. Add the factor of time slowing down as you stare out in awe at the views and I pretty spent a good chunk of time there.
Whether or not you book a treatment, they provide a pretty impressive spa kit and offer use of the vitality pool, crystal steam room, sauna and rain showers for all hotel guests. A treatment that is unique to the hotel is the Azuki Ritual. It is a deep cleansing Azuki bean body scrub and relaxing massage.
Japanese service is legendary for being courteous and ceremonial across all businesses – small to large, simple to luxurious. That is what you get in a country where tipping is frowned upon.
The service is obviously well above par at an ultra-luxurious hotel like the Mandarin Oriental Tokyo where the keen eye to detail is obvious. While there is an the efficiency and politeness with which all service is provided, I found there to be a warmth lacking.
From Narita International Aiport, the hotel is 53 minute train ride on N’EX (Narita Express) followed by an 8 minute drive. Alternately, a limo bus is available, albeit with a longer transit time (an hour and 30 minutes) from the airport to hotel. Within the city, the hotel is is adjacent to Mitsukoshimae (Ginza, Hanzomon lines) and Shin-Nihonbashi (Sobu Line Rapid) stations.
Fly See Stay Extras
Given the office building location, expect to see the business and local crowds during the week with over half the hotel’s guests being Japanese. It is also popular on weekends for weddings especially with a beautiful chapel in the hotel.
Earthquake spooked? Like most modern buildings in Tokyo, the hotel can withstand an earthquake and has a dedicated crisis team in place.
With Tokyo being awarded the 2020 Olympics, this hotel is sure to booked up fast.