Room Service: Shangri-La Tokyo, Japan

Lost horizon at the top of a tower

The Shangri-La Tokyo occupies 11 floors at the top of the 37-storey Marunouchi Trust Tower, which means none of its 200 rooms is without a view: to the east, Tokyo Bay and the newly built Tokyo Sky Tree tower, Japan's tallest structure; to the west, the Imperial Palace gardens, the skyscrapers of Shinjuku and – on a clear day – Mount Fuji.

Shangri-La opened its first hotel in Singapore in 1971 and now has 72 properties worldwide, all based on the theme of comfort and serenity inspired by James Hilton's 1933 book of pseudo-spiritual hokum, Lost Horizon. In Hilton's novel, a plane crashes in the Tibetan mountains and four survivors stumble across a mystical Himalayan monastery named Shangri-La, where the secret of eternal youth resides.

Back in the real world, the Shangri-La is relatively well sign-posted, and a tad pricier than its Tokyo rivals. But it rewards guests with, if not exactly eternal youth, then a welcome and well-appointed respite from the hubbub of the streets below.

The service is impeccable. If I say we started making bets as to how many porters and receptionists would say "welcome back" whenever we returned, and that each time an elevator door closes the attendant bows to its occupants until it departs, you should get some idea of the staff's commitment. (And in Japan, no tipping is necessary, or even expected.)

The hotel houses two excellent restaurants: Piacere, which serves an Italian dinner and a choice of Japanese or American-style breakfasts; and Nadaman, where the traditional kaiseki dining experience included, in our case, such memorable dishes as "sea urchin steamed egg custard" and Wagyu sirloin.

At the spa, Chi, the spiritual mumbo-jumbo continues: a pre-massage questionnaire includes the question, "What's your favourite colour?" I can't recall my choice, but the Samurai treatment – for "corporate warriors", or jet-lagged journalists – was deeply agreeable nonetheless.

The building boasts 50 chandeliers, more than 20 of which were made especially for the hotel in the Czech Republic – which is interesting, if that sort of thing interests you. There are 2,000 artworks in the rooms and hallways, allegedly inspired by the Chinese poet Bai Juyi's ode to the healing powers of the pipa, a Chinese stringed instrument. Mumbo-jumbo this may be, but some of the pictures are perfectly pleasant to gaze upon over a green tea.

Location

Marunouchi is composed of bland office blocks, scurrying businessmen and predictably gridded roads. It wants to be Regent Street, but it's really Canary Wharf. In its favour, it is exceedingly well-located: the Shangri-La is right beside Tokyo Station, from where the Bullet Train departs for Japan's other big cities. The station is also the terminus for the airport shuttle to Narita. A few blocks from the hotel, meanwhile, are the Imperial Palace East Gardens, among the most appealing of Tokyo's few open spaces.

Comfort

Naturally, every room at the Shangri-La is arranged according to the ancient Chinese principles of Feng Shui, which, of course, will improve your life using the laws of Heaven and Earth by receiving positive qi, whatever that is. They also contain some more modern Japanese accoutrements such as the remote-controlled toilet (with built-in bidet). The décor, like the breakfasts, is a sleek fusion of Western and Japanese corporate chic, in golds, blacks and wood veneer tans. .

Every night, a bookmark featuring assorted quotes from Lost Horizon is placed on your pillow. My favourite: "The mountains gleamed around in a hedge of inaccessible purity, from which his eyes fell dazzled to the green depths of the valley; the whole picture was incomparable, and when he heard the harpsichord's silver monotony across the lotus pool, he felt that it threaded the perfect pattern of sight and sound".

Travel essentials

Shangri-La Hotel, Marunouchi Trust Tower Main, 1-8-3 Marunouchi, Chiyoda, Tokyo, Japan (00 81 3 6739 7888; shangri-la.com/tokyo)

Rooms *****
Value ***
Service *****

Double rooms start at Y41,634 (£338), including breakfast.

The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations

News
John Travolta is a qualified airline captain and employed the pilot with his company, Alto
people'That was the lowest I’d ever felt'
Life and Style
healthIt isn’t greasy. It doesn’t smell. And moreover, it costs nothing
Sport
Jonas Gutierrez (r) competes with Yaya Toure (l)
football

Newcastle winger is in Argentina having chemotherapy

Arts and Entertainment
Emma Thompson and Bryn Terfel are bringing Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street to the London Coliseum
theatre

Returning to the stage after 20 years makes actress feel 'nauseous'

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
peopleThe Times of India said actress should treat it as a 'compliment'
News
news

Watch this commuter wage a one-man war against the Circle Line
News
We are phenomenally good at recognising faces; the study showed that humans have been selected to be unique and easily recognisable
science

Human faces unique 'because we don't recognise each other by smell'

Arts and Entertainment
You've been framed: Henri Matisse's colourful cut-outs at Tate Modern
artWhat makes a smash-hit art show?
Property
Home body: Badger stays safe indoors
lifeShould we feel guilty about keeping cats inside?
News
A male driver reverses his Vauxhall Astra from a tow truck
news

Man's attempt to avoid being impounded heavily criticised

Arts and Entertainment
Blossoming love: Colin Firth as Stanley and Emma Stone as Sophie, in 'Magic in the Moonlight'
film

Colin Firth and Emma Stone star together in Magic in the Moonlight: Woody Allen's 1920s romance

Arts and Entertainment
US pop diva Jennifer Lopez sang “Happy Birthday” to Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow, president of Turkmenistan
musicCorporate gigs become key source of musicians' income
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
filmsDaniel Craig believed to be donning skis as 007 for first time
Student
The Guildhall School of Music and Drama is to offer a BA degree in Performance and Creative Enterprise
student

Sport
Mikel Arteta pictured during Borussia Dortmund vs Arsenal
champions league
Voices
Yes supporters gather outside the Usher Hall, which is hosting a Night for Scotland in Edinburgh
voicesBen Judah: Is there a third option for England and Scotland that keeps everyone happy?
Arts and Entertainment
Pulp-fiction lover: Jarvis Cocker
booksJarvis Cocker on Richard Brautigan
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    IT Administrator - Graduate

    £18000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: ***EXCELLENT OPPORTUNITY FO...

    USA/Florida Travel Consultants £30-50k OTE Essex

    Basic of £18,000 + commission, realistic OTE of £30-£50k : Ocean Holidays: Le...

    Marketing Executive / Member Services Exec

    £20 - 26k + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Marketing Executive / Member Services Ex...

    Sales Account Manager

    £15,000 - £25,000: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has arisen for ...

    Day In a Page

    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    The Imitation Game, film review
    England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

    England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

    Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week