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Where to stay in Tokyo
Grand Hyatt Tokyo
Though it shares a celebrity buzz with its sister hotel the Park Hyatt, the effortlessly sleek Grand is pleasingly low-key. Its location in the upmarket Roppongi Hills complex might not suit those who like their Tokyo served straight up, but by the same token it provides a restful retreat. And having high-end shops and restaurants, a 53-floor panorama and world-class art on your doorstep can be considered quite an amenity. As is the Nagomi spa (though there’s a charge for guests) which, in addition to the usual list of artful treatments, has a lap pool, steam and sauna and a luminous white jacuzzi. Though not flashy, the guest rooms are extremely comfortable and well thought out, with dimmable lights, Bose stereos and free high-speed internet, and a tub you could park your car in. A 10th anniversary renovation has added Oxford chairs, original washi paper artwork and Bluetooth connectivity to the amenities.
Mandarin Oriental, Tokyo
Focusing not just on Tokyo, but on the historic Nihonbashi area in which it sits, the Mandarin is the antidote to that feeling that luxury hotels are the same the world over. Many of the materials are sourced from local artisans. The lobby and rooms all hint at traditional Japanese motifs, from the torii shrine gates and washi paper lanterns to the woven fabrics that hang in place of paintings. The view from the rooms trumps most of its top-end rivals, with a mosaic of lights from the business district in the foreground, and Mt Fuji straight ahead.
Just when it was starting to feel that Tokyo ryokans were on the verge of extinction, along came a major new player. Opened in July 2016, Hoshinoya Tokyo is one of the capital's very few luxury ryokans – and it's located in central Otemachi, just a short walk from Tokyo Station and the Imperial Palace. The 19-storey (including two underground floors) building houses tatami-floored suites, as well as a spa, Japanese restaurant and conference facilities, while offering the same standard of service that's earned awards for its sister resorts in places including Karuizawa and Kyoto. Given the lack of similar establishments in the city, it promises to present a serious challenge to Tokyo's glut of luxury hotels, though a night's stay sure doesn't come cheap here. Check out more photos and information on our blog.
The Hyatt group’s lifestyle brand Andaz opened its frst Tokyo hotel on the top of the 52-storey Toranomon Hills complex in June 2014. The hotel houses 164 guestrooms, a partially open-air rooftop bar, and a whopping 50m2 guestroom, the largest of its kind in Tokyo. To allow guests to enjoy their own style of stay, the Andaz Hosts, who take on the traditional roles of doormen, receptionists and concierges, are there to assist in any way. To make you feel more at home, they don’t wear black uniforms or name tags and will engage with guests to provide the best recommendations and suggestions for exploring Tokyo like a local.
The best events in Tokyo
Showa Kinen Park Flower Festival
Tachikawa's Showa Kinen Park isn't content with merely hyping the sakura: its Flower Festival takes place over two months and celebrates the blooms of tulips (in April), poppies and rapeseeds (May) and water lillies (May), of course in addition to the cherry blossoms in March and April. The programme consists of guided tours, open-air gigs and plenty of fun for the kids – aim for the weekends to make the most of it. Park entrance is free on April 29 and May 20.
Roppongi Art Night 2018
The annual nocturnal celebration of all things art, Roppongi Art Night has returned to its original spring date, with the usual line-up of outdoor installations, art events, live performances, cultural exhibitions and more taking over Roppongi from dusk until way past dawn. It's Roppongi like you've never seen it before after dark. As usual, the area's art museums and galleries will stay open until dawn - visiting Mori Museum in the middle of the night is not only a thrilling experience, but this is also the only day of the year when you can watch the sunrise and enjoy a magical morning view of Tokyo from the observatory deck before heading home from a long night out. The full programme hasn't been released yet, but keep an eye on their official website for more details.
Held at Showa Kinen Park, this massive food festival really piles it on. There are 10 different areas, including a dedicated meat section to seafood ones, with anything from juicy steaks and fresh-out-of-the-water seafood donburi to healthy salads on offer. Side events include a tuna cutting show and street performers. It's a gourmet's fantasy, and with last year's edition buzzing from morning to evening, we expect this year to be another belly-filling grand affair.
Tokyo Port Festival (Minato Matsuri)
You'll find a variety of family-friendly activities at this nautical festival, which commemorates the opening of Tokyo Port in 1941. One of the highlights is the firefighting pageant held from 10.30am on Sunday, in which the emergency services demonstrate their waterborne prowess, culminating in a display of fire boats shooting coloured jets of water while helicopters hover overhead. You can also fill up with food truck grub, watch stage performances and board boats that are usually off limits to the public.