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Keio Plaza Hotel Tokyo

An old dame with new tricks, says Alice Roh

Keio Plaza Hotel Tokyo
Princess Kitty room
Keio Plaza Hotel Tokyo
Kitty Town room
Keio Plaza Hotel Tokyo
Keio Plaza Hotel Tokyo
Keio Plaza Hotel Tokyo

Tea ceremony room

Keio Plaza Hotel Tokyo

Express check-in counter

Stepping into Keio Plaza Hotel Tokyo at 8am, exhausted after a red-eye flight, I breathe a sigh of relief. The lobby is the definition of ‘grand’ – spacious, high-ceilinged, elegantly appointed – and the staff are as impeccable in dress and hospitality. Having been around since 1971, the Plaza knows a thing or two about putting a weary traveller at ease.

And as you’d expect, the rooms are as warm and tasteful. Entering the large-for-Tokyo Superior Room, I pass the wardrobe and plonk right in the lounge area. The windows overlook the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building and, had I been higher up, the entire neon-lit neighbourhood of Shinjuku. The hotel also has themed rooms that reflect Japan’s broad spectrum of cultures, including Hello Kitty ones for the kawaii-inclined, and a traditional, tatami-clad suite. The former comes in two designs: Kitty Town is better suited for the kids, while the Princess Kitty, all slathered in pink and the Sanrio character, is ideal if your partner’s a fan of the feline. A plus: you’ll be served Hello Kitty-inspired breakfasts to complete the experience. 

The best part: the Plaza’s location in the middle of Shinjuku (the subway station is only a 10-minute stroll away) is ideal as a launching pad from which to explore the city. But the hotel has pretty much all you need. Eleven – count ’em – restaurants spread across the hotel tower run the gamut from soba to sushi to kaiseki, and another five bars ensure you’ll never go thirsty. There’s even an in-house kombini for that requisite late-night snack. 

My poison, however, is tea. So I sign right up for the hotel’s tea ceremonies – there are four sessions each day save Thursday and Sunday – to sip matcha like a samurai. It’s a quiet, graceful half hour that grants me muchneeded respite from the bustle of Tokyo. The Plaza also offers other nuggets of Japanese culture, too, from a wedding kimono experience to ikebana classes to koto recitals in the lobby. This isn’t your average Airbnb stay.

2-2-1 Nishi-Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo (+81 3 3344 0111, www.keioplaza.com). Rooms from about $390 per night.