1-5-6 Otemachi, Chiyoda-ku
Many hotels in Tokyo occupy the upper floors of skyscrapers, but none can compete with the majesty of Aman’s first city hotel. Step off the elevators and your head will automatically swivel upward to take in the nearly one-hundred-foot atrium that greets you. Once you get over the showstopping entrance, more delights await: eighty-four rooms designed in elegant, modern simplicity, with a deep soaking tub in every single one; floor-to-ceiling windows with views of Mount Fuji, the Imperial Palace, and the Tokyo skyline; and a spa and swimming pool that are so high up, they may as well be in the clouds. The hotel’s in a solidly business-oriented neighborhood but is close to Ginza and sits above five subway lines, if you can bring yourself to leave.
Andaz Tokyo Toranomon Hills
Opened in 2014, the Andaz is part of a new generation of Tokyo hotels. Like all Andaz properties, the lobby is without a reception desk—hotel staff checks in guests with iPads (and over a glass of wine, which is always a nice way to start just about anything). No high-end hotel in Tokyo is particularly casual, but relatively speaking, the Andaz is the most laid-back of the bunch. Rooms are crisply done in washi paper and walnut trim, and the rooftop bar (atop one of the tallest roofs in the city) is the perfect place to enjoy a Personal Collins, one of the hotel’s signature drinks and a deliciously diabolical mix of scotch, St-Germain, and matcha.
Grand Hyatt Roppongi Hills
The biggest draw of the Grand Hyatt is it's 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…
Grand Park Otaru
11-3 Chikko, Otaru
With close to 300 guest rooms (the ocean-view suites are well worth the splurge), five restaurants, and one massive mall, Grand Park Otaru is essentially a playground for adults. There’s a great breakfast buffet and fresh-baked pastries for days, but it’s the just-caught seafood offerings you’ll find on neighboring Sushi Street, that deserve the bulk of your attention. And while the accommodations are as five-star as it gets (deep soaking tubs, in-room tea-making stations), the hotel blends into Otaru’s port town quaintness pretty seamlessly. Plus, it's situated 30 minutes from Sapporo and within walking distance to the Otaru Chikko railway station, making it the ideal home base from which to explore Hokkaido.
1-9-1 Otemachi, Chiyoda-ku
Japan’s countryside is home to many ryokans, traditional inns where guests relax in serene quarters and take dips in natural hot springs. For years, Tokyo has lacked that level of tradition and pampering, but ryokan operator Hoshinoya has righted that wrong with its first hotel in the country’s capital. Taking up all seventeen floors of a building in the city’s Otemachi neighborhood, Hoshinoya is unlike any other hotel in the country, if not the world. For starters, you never wear your shoes around the hotel (they’re stored in lockers when you enter). Secondly, each floor has its own tea lounge serving food and drinks throughout the day, and each room is decorated in the traditional tatami mats and shoji screens. And if this isn’t the coolest thing, we don’t know what is: On the roof, there are single-sex outdoor baths, or onsen, fed by hot springs almost a mile beneath the city, so you can soak in mineral-enriched waters while you gaze up at the sky. (Tip: Do this at night.)
11-2 Genrokuzancho, Nishikyo-ku
This stunning ryokan (traditional Japanese inn) in the west of Kyoto is for those looking to unplug and relax. You get to the resort by boat, and the ride over on the river between the mountains is just breathtaking. Once you arrive, you’ll be greeted by a welcome song of chimes and led to one of the luxury ryokan style rooms overlooking the water. In the morning, have a Japanese breakfast in the room before joining in on breathing exercises. This is a really unique place.
Mandarin Oriental Tokyo
Smack in the middle of Tokyo is the Mandarin Oriental, a 179-room outpost of the storied brand that sits atop a Cesar Pelli–designed skyscraper. Rooms feature Bottega Veneta toiletries, a pillow menu with nine (nine!) pillow options, and traditional yukatas at the foot of the bed, each encased in black lacquer boxes. The Mandarin features some of the best dining in any hotel in Tokyo, including an eight-seat sushi bar with views of the skyline, a tapas bar specializing in molecular gastronomy, and a pizza spot that rivals anything you’ll find in Naples. When it’s time to go, grab some pastries and snacks from the ridiculously well-stocked gourmet shop on the ground level.
1-1-1 Marunouchi, Chiyoda-ku
The Palace Hotel has 290 rooms, seven restaurants, three bars, a pastry shop, and the first Evian spa in Japan. This is actually the third hotel to sit on the enviable chunk of real estate next to Tokyo’s Imperial Gardens—the first hotel, the Teito, was demolished and replaced in 1961 by the first Palace Hotel, which was subsequently razed and replaced by today’s Palace in 2012. The new Palace retains some of that old-world glamour (lobby staff clad in kimonos, the same bar from the original Palace) while upgrading it with all of today’s modern conveniences, like coffee makers and the most beautifully scented, nontoxic Bamford bath products in the suites. If you have the chance, be sure to book one of the rooms with a balcony—you’ll be one of the few people in Tokyo with your own private outdoor space.
Park Hyatt Tokyo
3-7-1-2 Nishi-Shinjuku, Shinjuku-Ku
You kind of have to, right? The Park Hyatt is a contemporary legend, the modern-day Plaza to today’s Eloises. If you fell in love with the place watching Lost in Translation, staying here hardly disappoints. But move past movie reenactments and enjoy the hotel for what it really is: a skylighted oasis that shows off Tokyo in all the best ways, from the buzz of the reception area, to the views from the pool, to the warm greeting from the staff each guest receives upon arrival. There are newer hotels in Tokyo, but the Park Hyatt is irreplaceable.
The Peninsula Tokyo
1-8-1 Yurakucho, Chiyoda-ku
Tucked between the neon of the Ginza and the gardens of the Imperial Palace, the ten-year-old Peninsula Tokyo is a combination of old and new. Guests are still transported to the hotel in one of its traditional Rolls-Royces (including a pristine 1934 model that, like all of the hotel’s cars, is painted the company’s signature Brewster Green), white-suited bellhops still greet you at the entrance, and the Peninsula afternoon tea is stately enough to make a monarch to feel at home. But there are modern accents as well, including fully automated (and surprisingly spacious) rooms with controls for lights, windows, and even humidity. Not to mention thoughtful, if ridiculously decadent, touches, like a two-way compartment that lets housekeeping collect room service dishes without making you lift a finger, and something every hotel should have: in-room nail polish dryers.
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