The Keio Plaza Hotel Tokyo feels unmistakably Japanese.
It’s a feeling I get the moment I walk into the spotless, well-lit lobby, where staff in crisp suits line reception and welcome you efficiently but with a smile; it’s in the sounds of the koto (Japanese harp) in the background; it’s in the old-school Seiko wall clock that doubles as an ornament; the Japanese-style floral arrangements reflected in off-white marble floors and walls are a giveaway; it’s even in its small repair works, which hide behind camouflaged cladding, thoughtfulness only the Japanese could conceive.
Its Japanese-ness is indeed in its restaurants and bars, from flashy teppanyaki at Yamanami to artistic kaiseki at Soujuan, traditional private rooms at Kagari to Japan’s first hotel sake bar Amanogawa – and then there’s the separate sushi, tempura and soba eateries, as well as the Japanese buffet, which serves up an awesome, and authentic Japanese breakfast (and consequently, lots of patrons). For a Japanese whiskey, beer, or cocktail, choices abound at the property’s many lounges.
It’s in its karaoke rooms, which offer amazing views from the 47th floor, its konbini (convenience store), an establishment the Japanese probably do better than anyone else, and in the Poppins boutique with its Japanese bread and sweets.
It’s in the hotel’s Japanese Tea Ceremony Experience, which I discover sells out quickly, in its comprehensive Japanese Wedding Kimono Experience, and the in-room shiatsu massages; it’s in its temporary exhibits like the Sports News Photograph Exhibition 2016 (which features among others, former guest Muhammad Ali) and ikebana workshop.
With no less than ten categories on offer, the Japanese feel continues in its rooms, which vary from the Standard room to the Japanese Tatami Suites that boast shoji, tatami (of course), yukata (Japanese nightwear), and high-grade green tea, among other amenities.
In 2014, the hotel even unveiled two Hello Kitty rooms, which are decked out from top to bottom in the famous character. Accessible via the hotel’s express check-in service, the ‘Kitty Town’ room features a modern, pop-art motif, while the ‘Princess Kitty’ room offers a classical, fairytale feel.
My room, a Superior, boasts a simple, yet elegant design with contemporary furnishings including a comfy queen bed, sofa, workspace, free wifi, large tv, and minibar. The bathroom is basic, with a combined shower/bath, but like most things in Japan, it’s exceedingly clean.
As the country’s first skyscraper hotel, its Japanese-ness is in the views, where the high-rises of Shinjuku meet busy streetscapes and on a clear day, Mt Fuji.
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Or it could be in the fact this is a Japanese-owned and operated brand: there are only four Keio Plaza hotels, so despite this property’s large size, there’s an intimacy in the brand.
Not least of all, it’s in its service, which from check-in till check-out stays true to the nation’s celebrated omotenashi (Japanese philosophy of ‘hospitality, treatment, reception and service’).
If you’re after a hotel that well reflects Japan, in its mix of the old and new, and in its value, than the Keio Plaza is definitely worth checking in to.
Address: 2-2-1 Nishi-Shinjuku, Shinjuku-Ku, Tokyo, Japan
Check-in: 2pm, Check-out 11am
Other highlights: Outdoor pool (open in summer), gymnasium, salons, photo studio, business centre and MICE facilities.
Images Keio Plaza Hotel Tokyo
The writer was a guest of the hotel.
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