Sitting on some of the city’s most exclusive real estate, adjacent to the Imperial Palace gardens’ peaceful moat-side is the Palace Hotel Tokyo, which has a distinguished history in omotenashi — Japanese hospitality — spanning over 50 years.
Originally opening in 1961 as a luxury hotel for the modern era, its unique use of 1.6 million traditional shigaraki tiles cladding its outer walls earned the hotel an Architectural Industry Association prize in 1963.
The hotel underwent a refresh in 2009, reopening three years later with 290 luxury guestrooms, ten restaurants and bars, an Evian spa and extensive meeting and events facilities.
The Palace Hotel offers guests a unique proposition among Tokyo’s luxury accommodation market as the only Japanese owned high-end hotel in the city, which has for many decades delivered the most authentic and unfiltered experience of Japanese hospitality.
The Palace Hotel’s commitment to omotenashi is experienced on arrival, as guests are escorted 19 floors up to the club lounge for check-in.
Passing through the lobby guests can pause to admire some of the hotel’s eclectic artwork — part of a collection totalling more than 1000 individual pieces.
Equally noticeable is the distinctive aroma that wafts through the hotel’s public areas — the hotel has its own signature scent based on a bespoke blend of 11 essential oils. Once in the club lounge, a glass of Laurent-Perrier swiftly arrives to refresh the weary traveller.
The club host efficiently informs guests of the need-to-knows, and room keys appear instantaneously after the induction formalities. It is at this point guests realise every detail in the hotel has been meticulously considered, and the impeccably high standard of hospitality delivered with remarkable ease is the norm.
The Palace Hotel is centrally located in Tokyo’s Marunouchi district. Chiefly a commercial hub, Marunouchi is also home to the Imperial Palace, the Mitsubishi Ichigokan Museum, Tokyo Station, as well as the city’s largest concentration of multinational companies, including the headquarters of some of Japan’s most prestigious corporations.
At its centre is Marunouchi Naka Dori, the long tree-lined, cobblestoned avenue densely dotted with high-end shopping and restaurants that is Tokyo’s equivalent to New York City’s Madison Avenue and Paris’ Champs-Élysées. The Marunouchi district forms part of the Chiyoda ward — Japan’s political centre — where tourists will find many government institutions and landmarks within easy reach including the National Diet building, the Japanese Supreme Court and the Prime Minister’s residence.
The Palace Hotel is 15 kilometres from Haneda International Airport, an approximate 30-minute drive by taxi or 60 kilometres away if arriving from Narita International Airport. The closest Japanese Rail station is Tokyo Station, which is within walking distance of the hotel.
Tokyo’s reliable subway system is an extremely efficient way to navigate the city, and purchasing a multi-day metro pass from the concierge desk is highly recommended. Otemachi Station, the nearest metro to the hotel, can be accessed directly through the property’s basement level.
All 290 contemporary guestrooms and suites come with traditional Japanese touches such as Jugetsudo teas by Maruyama Nori, plush Imabari bath linens and Nambu-tekki cast iron teapots — small yet distinctive details through which guests can experience genuine Japanese culture.
The hotel’s guestrooms span six room categories from a 45sqm deluxe room to a 55sqm club grand deluxe.
The Palace Hotel also has six suite categories ranging from a 75sqm executive suite to the 250sqm palace suite.
The room reviewed was a deluxe club room with balcony — a rare feature for Tokyo hotels — looking out on Wadakura Fountain Park, the Imperial Palace Plaza and panoramic views of Marunouchi’s skyscrapers.
The room, decked out in muted earth-toned décor, featured a sitting area, comfortable king-sized bed, excellent sound insulation and blackout drapes to provide a restful night’s sleep.
The spacious bathroom had a separate bathtub and shower, and the large toiletries selection included verbena bath salts, shower gel, body milk and hair conditioner by Parisian brand, Anne Semonin. Bathrobes, nightwear and slippers were provided.
Modern conveniences included built-in international power sockets, LCD television sets in the bathroom, bedroom and living areas with multiple language programming across the cable and satellite channels and on-demand movies, and complimentary high-speed internet access.
The minibar comes fully stocked with carefully curated munchies, and complimentary coffees, teas, mineral water, a daily newspaper and the nightly turndown service were standard room inclusions.
Drinking and Dining
In a city that is home to more Michelin stars than any other, the Palace Hotel has an impressive restaurant line up capable of rivalling Tokyo’s best establishments. Fine dining options include French at Crown, upmarket Japanese at Wadakura or elegant Chinese at Amber Palace.
The Grand Kitchen, an all-day dining venue that anchors the main lobby, is where guests begin each morning with a buffet breakfast — opt for an outdoor table on the moat-side terrace.
Included with the buffet spread is a cooked to order item, such as eggs benny, waffles or omelettes, from the a-la-carte menu.
For guests wanting to step out for dinner, the hotel’s knowledgeable concierge can suggest and secure tables at Tokyo’s top restaurants.
The hotel also houses three bars with each venue cultivating its own unique ambience and identity.
The Palace Lounge located in the hotel’s lobby is the go-to place for champagne and nightly live jazz, while the Lounge Bar Privé on the sixth floor is the perfect spot to take in Marunouchi’s glittering skyline by night on the outdoor terrace, drink in hand.
Better still, is the intimate 25-seater, Royal Bar, discreetly tucked away behind a single door on the lobby level that lays claim to being hotel’s most famous watering hole.
The Royal Bar’s counter is a careful restoration from the original Royal Bar that first opened at Palace Hotel in 1961, designed by the hotel’s first chief bartender, ‘Mr Martini’.
Today’s head bartender, Manabu Ohtake, shares his predecessor’s commitment to crafting the perfect cocktail and was a recent winner of the ‘world’s best bartender’ crown in Diageo’s world-class competition.
The Palace Hotel has exceptional facilities including a 24-hour fitness centre outfitted with extensive weight training equipment, cardiovascular machines, a 20-metre indoor pool and Under Armour fitness wear available for rent.
Also worth visiting is the hotel’s 1,200-square metre Evian spa, which boasts five treatment rooms, a marble sauna, nature-inspired therapies, heated baths, cold plunge pools, and on a clear day the snow-capped Mount Fuji can be seen in the distance through the wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling windows.
This hotel is an excellent choice for both business and leisure travellers. Guests on business trips will appreciate staying at the finest luxury hotel in Tokyo’s commercial district.
Likewise, those in town for leisure will enjoy the flawless five-star facilities, service and access to the best concierge desk they are ever likely to encounter in a high-end hotel.