When it comes to award-winning hotels in Tokyo, the Mandarin Oriental tops the list – and rightly so. The first – and only – property operated by the luxury-hotel portfolio in Japan, it opened its doors in 2005, quickly sweeping up award after award, year after year. So, naturally, I just had to see what all the fuss was about during my recent trip to the Japanese capital.
Pulling up outside the soaring 38-storey Nihonbashi Mitsui Tower, I was whisked up through the stunning entrance to the 30th floor, where the Mandarin Oriental welcomes its guests. Spreading up to the 36th floor, the hotel is impressive from the word go – from its incredible location in the heart of the city’s prestigious financial district to its sun-drenched lobby with views of the city below. I was instantly hooked.
What You'll Like
What the Mandarin Oriental does best is draw inspiration from local cultures to create a property that’s completely in sync with its surroundings, and the Tokyo property does so beautifully. Each room, regardless of whether it’s a suite or not, has been designed to exude harmony and serenity whilst reflecting the artisanship and essence of Japan. Walking into my spacious deluxe room instantly felt like a world away from the bustling streets below – and the little extras within are what put the hotel in a league of its own.
Light, bright, and oh-so-airy, each room boasts sweeping views over the city, so don’t be surprised if you find yourself whiling away the time lounging on a chaise longue with your in-room binoculars in tow, admiring the gardens of Tokyo Imperial Palace – or Mount Fuji, if you’re really lucky. Lots of light wood and natural tones are perfectly complemented by Japanese artwork and finishing touches like a 30-year-old yuzu tree that a bonsai master tends to every three years.
Fresh fruit is delivered daily to your room – picture apples and pears the size of your head – while delicious mochi balls nestled in pretty paper make up the pre-bedtime treat. The huge bathtub and walk-in shower are the next best thing to having your own in-room spa, and you’ll probably have one of the best night’s sleep of your life on your 450-thread count Egyptian cotton sheets and your choice of pillow from the in-room menu. All whilst wearing your original yukata Japanese kimono-style night robe. The dream.
What You'll Love
Two words? The spa. Oh boy, the spa. But this isn’t just any normal spa experience, of course. It is all about the ‘Spa Journey’, during which guests are invited to start their experience an hour before their treatment begins. Starting off in the relaxation area, I was lucky enough to have the entire water lounge to myself. Sinking back into the hot, soothing vitality pool complete with massage jets and gazing out over the city’s starry sky certainly makes for a big “pinch me” moment – and some pretty great Instagramming.
Your treatment then takes place in one of the nine rooms or four sumptuous suites. With floor-to-ceiling windows offering panoramic views of Tokyo, the setting is simply magical. As are the treatments. The luxurious ‘Signature Spa Therapies’ have been developed by specialists in traditional Chinese medicine and master aromatherapists to ensure that each experience leaves you feeling your very best from the inside out.
Donning my traditional Japanese pjs, I was lucky enough to experience the ‘Totally Tokyo’ journey (when in Japan, as they say), which was essentially 90 minutes of pure, perfect pampering. Featuring five traditional Japanese ingredients – pine, bamboo, plum, green tea, and rice hulls – to stimulate the five senses, it started with a relaxing foot ritual using pine oil and a plum salt scrub while I inhaled the relaxing aroma of green tea and listened to the soothing sounds flowing from the natural bamboo speakers.
I was then relieved of all my aches and pains as rice hulls warmed my body during a shiatsu-style massage that had me falling asleep in a matter of minutes – and if you know me, you know that’s an actual miracle. My treatment – the perfect way to tend to weary limbs after a day of exploring the streets of Tokyo – wrapped up sweetly: with a bowl of green-tea ice cream and fresh plum juice.
Despite the fact that there’s so much going on outside the hotel, don’t be surprised if you find it hard to make your way out – especially if it’s to treat yourself to a top-notch meal. Or 12. Yes, there are a whopping 12 F&B outlets located at Mandarin Oriental, Tokyo so it’s safe to say you’ll never get bored. Fancy one of the best pizzas outside of Italy? The Pizza Bar on 38th is the place to go as it serves up organic, brick oven-baked pizzas at its intimate counter.
Alternatively, seeing as you are in Japan after all, Sushi Sora is just the ticket if a spot of sushi sounds appealing. Boasting Edomae-style sushi alongside breathtaking views, it seats just eight to ensure you have a perfectly personal experience. But perhaps the star (or should I say three stars?) of the show are the hotel’s three Michelin-starred restaurants: Signature (French fine dining), Sense (Cantonese), and Tapas Molecule Bar (Spanish meets molecular cooking).
Regardless of where you end up, you’re guaranteed a sensory journey with some of the most artfully created dishes you can imagine. I’m still dreaming about the melt-in-the-mouth Wagyu beef tenderloin with black pepper and macadamia nuts at Sense. One piece of advice during your stay here? Wear loose clothing.
Whether you want to stay in the area or venture out, Mandarin Oriental, Tokyo couldn’t be more perfectly placed. Beneath the property is where you’ll find the metro, making it super easy to explore the city. Or walk a few paces, and you’ll be in shopping heaven as you hit the streets of store-lined Ginza. On the subject of shopping, be sure to pay a visit to the renowned department store Mitsukoshi, which is located just a hop and a skip away from the hotel. The food court alone will have you coming back for more. If a traditional kimono is on your shopping list, head to Chikusen, where you’ll find stunning silk-dyed fabrics in an array of patterns and colors.
Foodies, be sure to try out the local sweets at Japanese confectionery shop Eitara Sohonpo, famed for its kintsuba rolls of sweet bean paste coated with flour. I’ll also let you in on a little secret: the buckwheat soba noodles at nearby Muromashi Sunaba are some of the best in town. A word of warning though: no one here speaks a word of English, but that’s what makes it special. Mandarin Oriental, Tokyo also provides cultural packages, which include everything from exploring the area in an authentic kimono to taking part in unique washi paper-making workshops. What more could you possibly want?
For more information or to book a stay at the Mandarin Oriental, click here.