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.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
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?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Ashdown Group: Print Designer - High Wycombe - Permanent £28K

    £25000 - £28000 per annum + 24 days holiday, bonus, etc.: Ashdown Group: Print...

    Recruitment Genius: Business Travel Consultant

    £20000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: With offices in London, Manches...

    Recruitment Genius: Customer and Brand Manager

    £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Customer and Brand Manager required for ...

    Ashdown Group: Systems Administrator

    £25000 - £35000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Systems Administrator A...

    Day In a Page

    Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

    Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

    But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
    Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

    Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

    Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
    Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

    Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

    Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
    Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

    Britain's 24-hour culture

    With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
    Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

    The addictive nature of Diplomacy

    Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
    Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

    Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

    Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
    8 best children's clocks

    Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

    Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
    Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

    Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

    After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
    Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

    How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

    Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
    Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

    'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

    In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
    Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

    The Arab Spring reversed

    Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
    King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

    Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

    Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
    Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

    Who is Oliver Bonas?

    It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
    Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

    Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

    However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
    60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

    60 years of Scalextric

    Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones