24-Hour room service: The Peninsula Tokyo, Japan
Saturday 03 November 2007
A murmuring queue of smartly dressed couples patiently winds its way along the marble hallway and ascends a grandly curved staircase. This tailback for afternoon tea at the Peninsula Tokyo has become a daily occurrence since the establishment opened its sparkling glass doors on 1 September.
The crowds may be drawn by the reputation of the afternoon tea in the palm-dotted lobby at its sister property in Hong Kong, but there is more to explore at the Tokyo version than its Earl Grey tea and scones.
Designed by the architect Kazukiyo Sato, the eighth property in the luxury Peninsula collection is also the first new-build hotel in Tokyo in a decade. Standing 24 storeys high, the illuminated tower – designed to look like a lantern – cuts a stylish figure opposite the Imperial Palace in Marunouchi, the city's affluent financial district.
Boutique is not the word: hidden in its pristine network of corridors are 314 guestrooms, five restaurants, two ballrooms, a wedding chapel, a Japanese ceremony room and three jewellery shops. Centre-stage in the lobby are the organic curves of an abstract bamboo dragon sculpture, alongside a hanging shower of small white hanabi (firework) lights.
The creation is one of more than 1,000 art works on display around the hotel, which provides a sumptuous backdrop of natural tones, wide corridors, sweeping staircases and materials such as marble, lacquer and stone. At the apex of the hotel, however, the ambiance changes: the building is crowned by Peter, its extravagantly modern bar and restaurant, named after Peter C Borer, a Peninsula executive. A string of chrome polished trees, interactive video walls and futuristic, round dining pods sit comfortably with the lights of Tokyo-by-night that twinkle through the 360-degree, floor-to-ceiling windows. The morning-after-the-night-before is effortlessly taken in hand with a signature Keihatsu Enlightenment massage in the serenely aromatic sixth-floor spa – the first branded ESPA spa in Japan.
Although getting lost is an occupational hazard of staying in a large hotel, guests will be reassured that all corridors and lifts appear to lead to one and the same place: the end of the afternoon-tea queue in the lobby.
The Peninsula Tokyo, 1-8-1 Yurakucho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo, Japan (00800 2828 3888; tokyo.peninsula.com). The hotel is in the heart of the upmarket financial district of Marunouchi.
Time from international airport: At 80km from Narita airport, a 90-minute taxi costs around Y20,000 (£84), while the airport limousine bus costs Y3,000 (£13). Or you could arrive in style in one of the hotel's customised signature-green Rolls-Royces for Y70,000 (£294).
Spacious, with large windows looking over the city, the rooms are a uniformly modern take on classical Japanese design: set against an earthy orange backdrop, there are white lanterns, driftwood-style wooden doors and modern calligraphy art work.
Freebies: Davi bathroom products in slightly dated plastic packaging, as well as fruit, bottled water and newspapers.
Keeping in touch: Technology is sleekly combined with indulgence. As well as complimentary high-speed internet access, guests are given a mobile phone for use in the hotel and for making (pricey) calls throughout Tokyo. Other techno-quirks include an automatic nail-dryer, internet radio, plasma-screen televisions with DVD player, and relaxing spa-style music and lighting in the bathroom at the push of a button.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Doubles from Y69,500 (£292), room only.
I'm not paying that: Check into the Marunouchi Hotel (00 81 3 3217 1111; www.marunouchi-hotel.co.jp) for business hotel-style luxury at less than half the Peninsula price. Doubles from Y26,765 (£113), room only.
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