The first city debut for this luxury ryokan group, HOSHINOYA Tokyo is also Tokyo’s first luxury ryokan. Unlike other properties in the Hoshino Resorts group, its draw is less about its setting or the views and all about the intrinsic beauty of the property.
Situated in the Otemachi business district, in between Tokyo Station and the Imperial Palace, this contemporary ryokan is housed in an independent 17 storey building – with two basements, B1 for HOSHINOYA Tokyo Dining and B2 for underground access to subway station – amongst towering skyscrapers and offices. The way to identify the building would be to lookout for a building facade encased in black metal lattice fashioned with Asanoha leaf patterns. If you are coming from the subway’s underground access, look for exit C2c; it’s about an eight to 10-minute walk from the Otemachi station.
Style & character
It’s a modern day ryokan but not as we know it. From the outside, there is nothing that might suggest that you’re face-to-face with a ryokan, but once you step through its automated door made from Aomori hiba (cypress wood), the tatami-matted zen temple will disarm you. Like in a traditional ryokan, you remove your shoes and leave them at the door but in HOSHINOYA Tokyo, the shoes are neatly placed in artisan-made closets crafted from bamboo and chestnut wood infused with sandalwood scent. But unlike in contemporary luxury hotels where floor-to-ceiling windows frame picture perfect views of the surroundings, Hoshinoya Tokyo offers no such distractions thanks to the use of shoji sliding windows. Throughout the property, you will see generous use of Japanese elements like the suzu tinned walls that grace the corridor and lift lobbies on all levels, tatami matted flooring, chestnut wood as well as colour-dyed washi wall paper.
Service & facilities
There is a strong likelihood that the staff who processes your check-in is also the one tidying your room, serving you breakfast in the room or helping you prepare coffee/tea at the lounge. This is Hoshinoya’s way of showing you what being a host really means. The Japanese art of hospitality also shines through in the ochanoma lounge situated on every floor, where guests may access at any time of the day for snacks like rice crackers, red bean pancakes, instant somen (for supper only) as well as hot and chilled refreshments. For sake lovers, the lobby lounge on the ground floor serves three types of sake and a local wine every evening from 5 to 7pm. Dipping in an onsen is a rare treat in the heart of Tokyo but you can do just that in the alkaline water onsen perched on the 17th floor, which taps from a spring located 1,500 metres below ground level. Half of the hot bath is housed indoors and the other half exposed to the elements. There isn’t a gym on-site although there is one in the vicinity of the ryokan. For an induction into the world of tea ceremony, make an appointment for the daily tea ceremony ritual held daily from 10am to 10.30am at the lobby level platform.
In this high-rise ryokan, every floor is structured as a 6-room ryokan connected via a tatami matted hallway to the ochanoma lounge. There is a total of 84 rooms but only three room types. The executive triple Kiku room that we stayed in is by far the largest, catering to a maximum of three guests each. At 83 square metres, it is almost twice as large as the other categories of Yuri and Sakura. The two other room types are the Yuri rooms (corner rooms between 46 to 49 square metres) and Sakura rooms (lead in category, between 41 to 47 square metres). Each room features tatami and chestnut wood flooring, low-slung beds designed to mimick the Japanese futon, andon lamps, a bath tub and a TV ( in the Kiku and Sakura rooms, the TV is “hidden”). In the Yuri and Sakura rooms, you will find bamboo closets framed with chestnut wood and cypress wood-framed sofas with chestnut wood base. In contrast, the Kiku room features a walk-in wardrobe and enormous upholstered sofas in both the living area and the bathroom. All manner of modern conveniences are available at the touch of a button, this includes a blackout “curtain roll” switch and an easy-to-use lighting control panel by the bedside. The mood here is subtly meditative and once indoors, you really do not want to step out, except perhaps to graze on refreshments at the lounge. Lady guests are in for a treat as all female guests are gifted with a five -step facial kit by Japanese brand Lirio.
Food & drink
There is only one restaurant in-house and it serves dinner only and only to in-hotel guests. Named Hoshinoya Tokyo Dining, it serves a none-course Nippon cuisine by chef Noriyuki Hamada, the Bronze winner of the 2013 Bocuse d’Or World Finale. The aforementioned Nippon cuisine is in fact French-Japanese using local ingredients only and with a special emphasis on highly seasonal fish – like confit of ayu with mashed potato and cucumber in winter – served in specially curated, artisan-made vessels like the ceramic, lacquer, wood and metal ware. Breakfast is taken in the room and guests get a choice of Japanese (think grilled fish with rice, salad, two desserts and condiments) or Western (omelette in demi glaze with clam jus, danish pastries, salad and pumpkin soup), all served in stackable wooden bento-like boxes. Note that advance reservation of breakfast time is highly recommended; failure to do so may result in your room being allocated a less desirable timing for breakfast. In case you are feeling peckish, rice cracker snacks, coffee/tea and chilled refreshments are available all day at the lounge. If you rather venture out for meals, there is Otemachi Financial City nearby where you can find a variety of cafes and restaurants serving everything from Italian to Japanese.
HOSHINOYA Tokyo room rates start from JPY 72,000 per room per night (including tax and service charge). The Japanese breakfast costs JPY 4,000 per person (excludes tax and 10% service charge) while the western breakfast costs JPY 3,300 per person (excludes tax and 10% service charge). Dinner at Hoshinoya Tokyo Dining costs JPY 18,000 per head (excludes tax and 10% service charge).1-9-1 Otemachi, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo, Japan; +81-50 3786 1144; hoshinoyatokyo.com