Every time we visit Tokyo we’re struck by how charmingly low-rise it is. By contrast with other Asia capitals, there’s been no crazy arms race to build the tallest tower. But that also means that, where you can get up high, you’re rewarded with unbroken views.
That’s certainly the case at Andaz Tokyo, on the 47th-52nd floors of the Toranomon Hills Mori tower, from where you can look out across the city in every direction, from the Imperial Gardens to the Tokyo Skytree, the Tokyo Tower to Tokyo Bay.
Those impressive views, though, belie a property that’s far from showy and where we spent a weekend in our first trip back to the Japanese capital in more than three years. In fact, discretion and elegance are the watchwords, with the Andaz ethos all about creating a home away from home.
So it is in the Andaz Lounge, which adjoins reception and is open not to a specific tier of guests but all of them, with complimentary soft drinks throughout the day and free cocktails, wine and sake from 6-8 in the evening. And, as you walk around the property, you’re encouraged not just to admire but even touch the artwork, as though you really do own it. There are beautiful pieces here, too, from Shigemitsu Kotaka’s “Infinite Universe”, a huge installation of ‘kumiko’, an ancient technique of arranging wood without nails, to Charlie Whinney’s “Birds in the Forest”, in which timber has been super-heated and then quickly manipulated into a new form.
We already felt very much at ease, therefore, when we reached our room, one of 164 (including eight suites) spread over four floors, all of which feature deep soaking bathtubs, to reflect Japanese bathing tradition, and those killer views. Even the smallest rooms are more than 50m2 in size, making them among the biggest in town, and the design reflects Japan’s emphasis on beauty and purity of form, using natural materials such as washi paper and walnut throughout each space. It’s simple and sophisticated and we loved it.
Creating a cozy living space however is the easy part. Perhaps the hardest thing to do in Tokyo is to convince hotel guests not to head out to explore the city’s incredible dining scene. But with five in-house restaurants and bars Andaz certainly makes staying ‘home’ tempting.
It’s hard to imagine a more intimate setting than the ultra-exclusive, eight-seater spot ‘the SUSHI’, where you enjoy a private omakase-style dinner on the 52nd floor. Meanwhile, The Tavern – Grill & Lounge specializes in ‘snow aged beef’, matured for 25 days in a natural “Yukimuro” refrigerator, and extravagantly displayed before being seared on a lava stone broiler. BeBu offers more casual American food, and there’s also an on-site pastry shop.
The highlight though for us (and we suspect most other guests), was the semi-open air Rooftop Bar, ranked by Conde Nast as one of the 15 best in the world, and home to the hotel’s exclusive ‘52’ sake. It proved to be a great spot to spend the evening, and we didn’t make it much further, although we did discover the adjacent wedding chapel, Tokyo’s highest!
The excesses of the previous night shaken off, we finally made it outside. While the surrounding neighbourhood of Toranomon is quite business-focused (and therefore rather quiet when we were there over a weekend), you’re not far from the Imperial Palace or livelier districts like Roppongi. In any case, Tokyo is a great walking city and so, after a long day on our feet, we were delighted to head back to the hotel and spend time at the in-house AO Spa & Club, where a 65-foot swimming pool is complemented by a unique carbonated bath and a floating jet bath available complimentary to all staying guests.
Designed by local studio SIMPLICITY (who also had a hand in the Rooftop Bar), the Spa itself is a true haven from the world. Their bespoke, personalized treatments (or ‘jiyujizai’) incorporate treatments from three different skincare lines: Biologique Recherche, Elemental Herbology and Kotoshina, the latter two offered only here in Japan. All in, a wonderful way to cap off our weekend here.
The property is the first – and so far only – Andaz in Japan, but despite approaching its decade anniversary, it feels very much like a new arrival and is absolutely somewhere we’d stay again. It’d be a stretch to call it ‘home’, but hey it’s nice to pretend every now and again.