Grand Hyatt Roppongi Hills
The biggest draw of the Grand Hyatt is its location. Roppongi Hills is nestled between the districts of Tsukiji (home to the biggest fish market in the world, and an absolute must-see for visitors at the jet-lag-friendly hour of 5 a.m. when the market comes alive), and Shibuya which—aside from being arguably the busiest intersection on the globe—has a ton of great late-night bars. The hotel is a soaring glass tower with 387 rooms and suites. Despite its size, the subtle Japanese furnishings—plenty of mahogany, neutral fabrics, and zero clutter—give the rooms and communal spaces a warm, welcoming feel. The ten on-site restaurants and bars span Japanese, Chinese, and French cuisine, and are as popular with locals as they are with tourists, creating a familial, convivial atmosphere we all crave when far from home. Falling onto thick mattresses clad in the softest Frette sheets is pure bliss after a long day of sightseeing, sushi-eating, and shopping (Roppongi is heaving with stores and art galleries). For those adventuring with kids, the indoor pool is a godsend, and the mini kimono-style robes you receive on arrival always go down a storm…
Niwa No Yu
Talented landscape architect Kenzo Kosugi designed the lush and meticulously kept Japanese garden that this beautiful onsen is built into. Luxuriating surrounded by the greenery and prettily placed rocks is indeed heaven. There are male and female soaking pools and a central pool for all genders, as well as saunas and outdoor hot tubs. You have to be at least of thirteen years old at this spot, so the vibe is more serene than at some of the larger onsens, where children have free rein.
2-2-15, Minami Aoyama
The friendly master Shingo Takahashi apprenticed for Sushi Sho chef Keiji Nakazawa before opening his own place behind this discreet sliding bamboo door on a small street near Aoyama Park. It’s omakase only here—and it does not disappoint. From fresh-as-possible cuts of familiar fish to creamy baby shrimp and sweet uni to the intense flavor of in-season horse mackerel and sea eel. There are also offerings you rarely see, like caviar seaweed to start (the seaweed has little bubbles on the outside that pop when you crunch down), raw eggplant (ever so slightly pickled, though you can’t really tell), and so much more. Takahashi kindly requests no snaps inside the small, pale, minimal space so that you can focus and enjoy your meal. Image courtesy of Tabelog.com.
The Spa at Mandarin Oriental, Tokyo
2-1-1, Nihonbashi Muromachi
The hotel's clean lines and glossy flourishes extend to the gorgeous spa. With male and female bathing pools, an amethyst crystal steam room, a sauna with a million-dollar Tokyo view, and treatments that verge on out-of-body incredible, this place is supremely pampering. Every session starts with a soothing foot-bath ritual and a consultation. The Oriental Harmony treatment is over-the-top, with two therapists working together to sooth, replenish, and balance skin with a body scrub and a stimulating massage. There are only four treatment rooms here, which means you should book your session well in advance-and also that the vibe is beautifully intimate.
This onsen in the Shinjuku area of Tokyo sources its pristine waters daily from Naikazu in the Izu Peninsula. Pure soaking pools aside, there's an infrared sauna, as well as bedrock baths. The latter involve lying on beds made of rock salt, said to release energizing negative ions. The massages here are completely worth it, rigorous in a hurt-so-good kind of way.
The faded sounds of Tokyo Dome, the concert venue/entertainment complex next door, somehow add to the experience of luxuriating in this impressive hot spring spa. There are two open-air bathing areas, one where the healing pools are warm, and another where they're a bit cooler.
Hotels don't get much sleeker than Hoshinoya Tokyo, a spectacularly modern take on a ryokan (traditional Japanese inn) that's ensconced in the city's thrumming financial district. You slip off your shoes when you get there and you're in another world-a calm, seductive, luxurious one-as you make your way down the sandalwood-scented, tatami-lined hallway. There's a sake-stocked lounge that's definitely worth a linger, but the onsen is the biggest draw, with its series of indoor and outdoor hot spring bathing pools on the seventeen-story monolith's top floor. The naturally salty water is therapeutic, energizing, head-clearing. You haven't really experienced Tokyo until you've gazed out at its twinkling lights from a bubbling tub of hot spring water.
Nami Yoga Studio
Practicing yoga in Tokyo is a special brand of lovely. Kurokawa Namita is known for intimate, challenging classes that focus on deep breathing and poses held for extended periods of time. The all-female staff is great at hands-on adjustments, and classes are taught in both Japanese and English. The Jivamukti classes with Namita are especially invigorating, and there are also great express classes offered midday, as well as classes for kids.
There are two distinctly wonderful bathing experiences at this onsen: The amber-colored water in the Golden Hot Spring is iodine-rich and naturally maintains a temperature of one hundred degrees, while the inky water of the Tokyo Black Hot Spring feels almost gelatinous and gets its color from the skin-clearing minerals. There's also a gorgeous hot stone sauna and a small selection of food in the lobby. For the complete experience, order the onsen tamago, an egg cooked in the hot spring water, which you eat with a cup of diluted apple cider vinegar.
Maenohara Onsen Sayano Yudokoro
This beautifully landscaped place is actually, miraculously, a hot springs resort right in the middle of Tokyo. Along with large public pools to swim around in, there's all manner of indoor and outdoor baths fed from the free-flowing spring, which is especially rich in sodium chloride. There are full-length tubs you can lie down in, others that look like giant pots, and super secluded hydromassage hot tubs that give you a lymphatic massage as you soak. Book an appointment for a hot stone treatment or akasuri-a vigorous full-body exfoliation-and stop by the restaurant afterward for the most delicious buckwheat noodles.
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