Hoshinoya Tokyo, quite honestly speaking, is perfectly located for any trip to Tokyo. Located in the prestigious Otemachi district in central Tokyo, which is about a five-minute walk to the Imperial Palace gardens and it’s close to major metro lines for easy access around the city. The Japan-based Hoshino Resorts celebrated its 106th birthday this year, an incredible feat for any hospitality group, and Hoshinoya Tokyo their shining star property in the capital city opened its doors in 2016 to rave reviews.
Hoshinoya Tokyo is an exceptional hotel, and why you may ask? Simply because it’s the perfect mix of tradition and modernity. They have managed to beautifully blend the best elements of a traditional Japanese ryokan in with the elements of a luxury modern hotel. For those who aren’t familiar with the concept, a ryokan is a traditional Japanese-style inn usually found in the countryside and around hot spring areas, so the fact that they have managed so beautifully to bring this to the city is incredible.
The whole interior design carried out by Azuma Architect & Associates and was so thoughtfully and carefully executed. From the entrance to the shoji screens throughout the hotel and rooms to the tatami flooring which is even in the lift, you instantly feel like you are in your own Japanese home.
As you enter the arrival space on the ground floor, the first thing you do is remove your shoes, as you would do if you arrived at a traditional ryokan. They are then placed in one of the baskets that so beautifully make up the feature wall entrance design. This is not only an incredibly comfortable thing to do, but also a symbol for the start of your stay, removing your shoes as if you have arrived home, to your home in Tokyo.
There are three different room types at Hoshinoya Tokyo, six rooms on each floor and we stayed in Kiku (Executive Triple) but the Yuri (Deluxe King) and Sakura (Deluxe Twin) were identical in design and feel. It just comes down to the number of people in the room to decide how much space you need.
There is free WiFi throughout the property and each room has a minibar, kettle, television, desk, and lounge area. You are provided with your own set of pajamas and kimonos for your stay on property. Pajamas are for wearing on your floor and to bed and the kimono is for wearing around the property, outside as well if you’d like, and of course to the lounge or dinner on the basement floor. You can pretty much wander around all day in their kimonos and socks, in fact, we even wore them to dinner that same evening.
The entire living and sleeping space is surrounded by shoji screens that open onto views of the city and the exterior of the hotel is covered by a metal lattice made up of komon patterns. At twilight, the light shines through these shoji screens and create a pattern that’s so beautiful and artistic. Komon patterns are traditionally featured on kimonos and are designed to be difficult to make out from a distance, yet they reveal their true pattern up close. As the sun set, watching the patterns emerge was just beautiful.
With double basins, huge square bathtub and large shower space, this is any bathroom lovers dream. Not to mention the lounge area inside the bathroom space as well. They have amenities by a local Japanese company called Lirio and bath salts to use for a relaxing bath. The bed was very comfortable even though it is placed lower on the ground (ryokan style) and the sheets and blankets were so soft it was like sleeping on clouds. To sleep at night there is a blackout screen behind the shoji screens that you can close and slumber in pitch darkness. The digital ports, television placement, and other electrical components were also thoughtfully and carefully designed, placement-wise, with their guests’ comfort in mind.
There is a communal living space on every floor where complimentary tea and snacks are served. Roasted green tea, rice balls, seaweed crackers, miso soup, and during the evenings there is instant ramen should you get peckish. A really nice touch, almost as though you have your own kitchen and lounge area to dine in. There are 84 rooms spread out over 17 floors and even though the hotel was quite full, you will rarely see or hear another guest, we only saw one other person in the living space on our floor and at the sake lounge on the 2nd floor throughout the 24 hours we stayed at the hotel. In fact, for a centrally located city hotel, the whole place was incredibly peaceful and quiet while inside, you really felt like you could relax and switch off from your busy day.
Dining at Hoshinoya Tokyo is an exclusive experience because you can only dine at their legendary restaurant if you are an in-house guest–how exclusive! Located in the dining hall on the B1 floor, the restaurant serves “Nippon Cuisine” with a focus on fish, which is the backbone of Japanese food culture. “Nippon Cuisine” is a full course combining the ingredients obtained from the rich nature of Japan with French culinary techniques. The attention to detail on the plating of the food and service was exceptional, not to mention the beautifully presented dishes were simply outstanding. Kudos to Executive Chef Noriyuki Hamada who not only created an impressive dining atmosphere but also impeccable food. For those new to Japanese fine dining, enjoying a meal by Executive Chef Noriyuki Hamada is a great introduction to it. The uniqueness of his creations, mix of flavors yet remaining true to Japanese food traditions and culture make for a great dining experience. You are really able to see the uniqueness of Japanese food through his creations. Service was attentive, informative, and of a very high standard, we were always impressed with the amount of detail that went into describing every dish.
We had the tasting menu which can change seasonally so your meal might be slightly different compared to what we had. It was hard to find any faults or a favorite dish but the “Five Flavours of Delight” (the dish featured in the image above and one of the restaurant’s signature dishes) represents the five flavors expressed in Japanese cuisine–sourness, sweetness, bitterness, saltiness, and umami, and was incredible not only visually but in taste. Followed by their young tuna dish, firefly squid (which is a rare Japanese squid and quite small), amadai tilefish (sweet tilefish and known to be quite tender in both taste and texture) and eel and bamboo shoot. To finish, a ginger and Japanese buntan citrus and a seasonal item of the cherry blossom flower meringue–just divine.
The ceramic plates, cutlery, and Japanese knives (Knives by Ryusen Japan) all have been carefully chosen to not only complement the food but also the dining experience. It was a decadent dining experience but with a rather fair price tag considering the quality, execution, and ambiance–very impressive.
Breakfast, on the other hand, is served in-room and you can choose from a traditional Japanese breakfast (highly recommend trying it especially if you haven’t had one before) and Western breakfast. We opted to try both, so we ordered one of each. Not only did this make for a nice chance to try both but it was lovely to see the plating, options, and flavors that went into creating the bento box style breakfast options.
The onsen (Japanese hot spring) on the top floor of Hoshinoya Tokyo is their most impressive facility on-site and must-visit when you stay. It is quite simply amazing. No matter how busy your day is in Tokyo, you must make time for a dip. The water is rich in therapeutic minerals and the perfect way to start or end your busy day in the city. How they have managed to have an open-air onsen right in the heart of Tokyo is impressive. They pump the water up from the ground some 1,500 meters below! The onsen is separated by gender and there are large changing rooms to use before and after your dip. There is no gym or swimming pool on-site, but for a small fee, you can use the facilities next door. While at first, we were thinking this would be an inconvenience, we soon realized we, in fact, had no time to use the gym as we opted for a run around the imperial gardens just across the road instead. There is a spa on the 17th floor as well that offer a range of traditional and classic treatments. The spa menu is inside your room and advanced booking is recommended.
Depending on what day of the week you are staying, there is a range of complimentary activities available–from Japanese traditional trick show, gagaku (which is the imperial palace ceremonial music) performance, sake tasting at the lounge, and morning and evening exercise activities on the 17th floor. There is also a great selection of books in the lounge for guests to have a read through and we particularly liked the books on the individual Hoshinoya properties. A dedicated coffee table book filled with incredible images, sure to help you start planning your next Hoshinoya hotel stay.
Hoshinoya Tokyo 1-9-1 Otemachi, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 100-0004, Japan, hoshinoya.com/tokyo/en