The hotel’s new design highlights the Tokyo skyline. // © 2016 The Ritz-Carlton, Tokyo
Feature image (above): Catch live music in the afternoons and evenings at Lobby Lounge & Bar. // © 2016 The Ritz-Carlton, Tokyo
Frankness is a great quality in a travel advisor, but I was taken aback by what my agent had to say regarding the hotel I chose for my family’s spring trip to Tokyo.
“I’m honestly not a huge fan of The Ritz-Carlton, Tokyo, but it’s obviously not a bad place in the least,” Andres Zuleta, president of Boutique Japan Travel Company, told me.
He praised The Ritz-Carlton, Kyoto as “the best hotel in the city,” but told me that The Ritz-Carlton, Tokyo lacked character.
However, a few months later, following the September 2015 completion of a wide-reaching renovation, Zuleta changed his tune.
“We were all a bit blown away by the drastic change of the new Ritz-Carlton, Tokyo,” he told me in an enthusiastic email. “‘Up to my standards’ may be an understatement.”
Still, in a city with so many storied luxury properties, I wasn’t sure how it would stack up.
It turns out that The Ritz-Carlton, Tokyo is literally at the peak of the city, occupying the top nine levels of Roppongi’s Tokyo Midtown Tower, one of the tallest buildings in Japan.
We didn’t waste time heading to the hotel’s high point. There, at the Club Lounge on the 53rd floor, we checked in and inhaled our welcome drinks along with the kind of view that folks wait in line for at Tokyo Skytree. Though I had been to Tokyo before, it was my family’s first time, and I was giddy to be able to introduce them to the city this way.
Once in our room, I headed to the picture window. The view had met its match: a wooden box bearing five handmade confections, set next to a plate of locally sourced strawberries the color of Taylor Swift’s lips. Each day after returning from exploring Tokyo, I found solace in finding, and eating, whatever was waiting for me in the extravagant edible display. Who can focus on meditation when you have loquats and mochi artfully shaped as fruits one day, and passionfruit and chocolates the next?
In general, the amount of perks provided to clients staying on the club floor adds value, as well as something even more elusive: the feeling of home.
Part of this has to do with the hotel’s sleek new look, which manages to promote an aura of calm through a neutral, well-balanced color palette; the library nooks in the Club Lounge; nods to Japanese aesthetic through artwork and materials; the natural light found propertywide; and the cozy feeling of floating above most of the city’s buildings.
Food also kept us happy. Eating is my family’s preferred method of bonding, so we responded warmly to the five complimentary (and very well-executed) food services offered daily at the Club Lounge. We started our days over newspapers, made-to-order omelets and cappuccinos and ended them with stories, sweets and tea.
Non-Club Lounge visitors who wish to eat at the lounge must pay a $62 charge — an easy way to quantify the value clients get by staying on this floor. Of course, guests can also eat at the hotel’s Michelin-starred restaurants: Azure 45 for French fare and Hinokizaka for Japanese kaiseki, sushi, tempura or teppanyaki. Casual eateries, including Lobby Lounge & Bar, The Ritz-Carlton Cafe & Deli and Towers Modern Bistro, are quite good, too.
For wellness, the hotel offers a spa featuring Sodashi treatments, a fitness center, a Jacuzzi and a pool, though my favorite sanctuary was actually my Club Deluxe Room. Spacious, octagonal bathrooms offer a soaking tub, double vanities, televisions and an enclosed shower. Expect luxury room features — Frette linens and a smart panel to control lights and drapes — as well as complimentary pressing, coffee and tea delivery service, internet and access to the Club Lounge concierge.
But even the most handsome hotel is only as good as its staff. Servers memorized the previous day’s tea orders, room service and luggage attendants quickly arrived to my room when called, and the concierge solved the riddles of our family’s picky food preferences with three great dinner reservations. But a first for me was when our housekeeper, Chiba, noticed that the toothpaste I was using was nearly done. Taking a page out of my mom’s old playbook, she left a medium-size tube with a handwritten note.
Though this was a small detail, it helped make The Ritz-Carlton, Tokyo a high point of our trip.