Tokyo’s latest 5-star deluxe hotel, The Prince Gallery Kiocho, offers a luxury urban Tokyo experience – a gleaming skyscraper hotel offering exceptional framed views of the city from each of its more than 150 rooms, writes Andrew Forbes.
In the main tower, expect Japanese and international restaurants; a destination cocktail bar & lounge; pool, spa and gym; all with floor to ceiling windows. In the historic annex, ‘The Classic House at Akasaka’, predominatly dedicated to banqueting and events, there’s a further restaurant, bar and café surrounded by landscaped terraces.
From my window seat, as the aircraft descended towards Haneda Airport, I could look out across the sprawling mega-city of Tokyo. From the air one is afforded an extraordinary perspective of Japan’s capital, a view of the metropolis that can’t help but solicit feelings of wonder and awe – it was a genuine ‘wow’ moment. Once on the ground, the city is no less impressive.
Japan is reaching out internationally as never before. With the forthcoming 2020 Olympic Games, Tokyo will be welcoming the world, and as part of the build-up, the country is making efforts to attract international visitors. Already the country is well advanced in its plan to make the country more accessible to foreign travellers, with public transport information, road signs etc. translated into English.
This increasingly outward view is attracting plenty of inward investment too, and Prince Gallery Hotel, a Luxury Collection property, is one of the newest 5-star deluxe properties to open in Tokyo, ready for the new wave of interest in Japan.
The Prince Gallery Kiocho is found in an exclusive quarter of the city’s main central commercial, imperial and political area, a green district known for its heritage when this was at the epicentre of Edo, as Tokyo was once know some four centuries ago.
The Prince Gallery forms part of Tokyo Garden Terrace Kiocho, a sparkling new development of offices, shops, and entertainment – as well as the hotel which is on the 30th to 36th floors of the main tower.
Unless you are a frequent visitor to Tokyo, getting around the city can be a little disorientating, as even with the helpful locals, and signage in English, the city is intoxicatingly busy, and somewhat bewildering. It took me a while to find the hotel entrance as it’s discreetly signed. From the plaza, one takes an escalator to the next floor and then the fast lift up to reception. Once the shining aluminium lift doors close and the elevator whisks you to the 30th floor, you become embraced by a lofty world of contemporary luxury and design.
embraced by a lofty world of contemporary luxury and design
Pretty much as soon as I arrived at reception on the 36th floor, I knew I was going to like this hotel. It has that contemporary, city vibe without the stuffiness or the overt attentiveness one sometimes finds in the city’s upscale hotels. Step out of the lift, and one faces the sky lobby, and the impressive Sky Gallery Lounge Levita. This hotel is all about high-impact design and framing those extraordinary city skyline views. Waves of green neon art covers the double height walls, whilst beyond the immense windows the towers and lights of the city spread out.
The lobby is spacious and tranquil, with a linear fire place above which hung three-dimension silver abstract art. The team were professional and friendly and spoke confidently in English. The property has been open less than a year, but things immediately felt like they were running smoothly.
My deluxe king room featured ingenious design, with the huge window perfectly framed the view – a spectacular panorama west that took in the Akasaka Palace grounds, the city skyscrapers and on towards the iconic, snow-capped Mont Fuji.
the huge window perfectly framed the view
I captured the view with my phone, from my bed, with the warmth of the rising sun illuminating the volcano in the distance.
The day bed in the window was such a great idea! A switch allows filtered fresh air to be vented into the room from outside.
The hotel’s interior design is by the dynamic Rockwell Group Madrid; with an approach that echoes the theme of ‘gallery’ throughout. Framed views, contemporary art, and striking installations provide a unique ambiance that feels modern, cool and urban.
Technology, as one might expect in a Japanese hotel, is spot-on, yet discreet. The mood lighting, electric curtains, blinds, and the even a privacy setting for the glass bathroom wall (from clear to opaque) is all controlled by the touch of a button – from the control by the bed, or the iPad provided in each room, which also offers hotel services and local information.
It was one of the most intuitive and easy to use in-room controls I’ve found.
The minimalist style allowed for a comprehensive bar, as well as kettle and Nespresso to be discreetly housed in sleek cupboards. In addition to the designer glassware there were also handmade cups and a delightful Nanbu-Tekki cast iron tea pot – in short loads of attention to detail. Clean lines, uncluttered style and a few bold accents allowed the framed panoramic view to define the space.
Bathroom was spacious, with large walk in wet-room typical in Japan, with body cloths, bath salts and luxe amenities by Remède. It will come as no surprise to regular visitors to Japan that the W.C. was a state-of-the art bidet loo, with various functionality that probably can’t be imagined outside Asia!
Also, since this is Japan, expect a cool cotton Yukata, as well as a western dressing gown and slippers.
The main restaurant, Souten, serves classic Washoku Japanese cuisine, with an obvious focus on freshly caught fish. This is the place for seasonal dishes typically offered as elaborate, painstakingly prepared multi-course meals.
A large space, the restaurant has striking, minimalist design and is made up of distinct areas including the teppan-yaki counter for show cooking, and the more intimate sake and sushi bar.
For dinner, I went for something relaxed and casual; ordering from the all-day Italian restaurant, ‘Oasis Garden’, where one can choose from pastas, salads, and the excellent grill. I chose to eat in the lively Levita bar, where the setting sun gives way to the lights of the city.
After dinner drinks, can be enjoyed in the illumiid bar, which has a more traditional club like ambiance.
A sophisticated interpretation of French bistro dining is on offer at La Maison Kioi in the adjacent Classci House at Akasaka Prince, dating back to 1930 and the former residence of the last crown prince off Korea.
Breakfast is in Oasis Garden, which catches the rising sun – it’s really worth getting up early to see the city, including the iconic Skytree tower ignited by the new day – after all this is the land of the rising sun.
after all this is the land of the rising sun
With its 30th floor setting, the Kioi wellness area offers a stunning Tokyo setting to swim, exercise or be pampered. Views from 140 metres up capture the drama of the urban landscape. The gym is free for guests, although there is a nominal charge for use of the pool and hot tub, depending on room rate and grade.
Address: The Prince Gallery Kioicho, 1-2 Kioi-cho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 102-8585, JAPAN
Guides and Tours
Whilst in Japan, The Luxury Editor enjoyed some expert insider knowledge and experiences thanks to these locally owned and run businesses:
TOKYO – Backstreet Guides
In Tokyo we enjoyed an afternoon’s private guiding from ‘The Backstreet Guides Tokyo Tours’. This Tokyo company offers local tour guides who have a passion for travel. Our guide Rie was a delight, and she took us to enjoy a wonderful Japanese garden park which we’d never have found without her. The guides are great for independent travellers that want an Insider experience. Visit their site to book a guide http://thebackstreetguides.com/
JAPAN FOOD TOURS – Arigato Japan
In Tokyo, we took an evening food tour with Anne who has set up Arigato Japan. We discovered some of Tokyo’s hidden Yokocho alleyways.
Arigato Japan now offer several tours all around Japan, not just in Tokyo, including Kyoto and Osaka, and Hiroshima. Details, dates and prices are on their website http://arigatojapan.co.jp/