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Two boxy, nondescript hotels once occupied the space that is now the new Palace Hotel Tokyo. While they were serviceable, at best, they did have one thing going for them — they were located on prime real estate in the Marunouchi district of Tokyo, just across from the Imperial Palace.
Today, the new Palace Hotel Tokyo rises 23 stories above the Imperial Gardens, the largest expanse of green space in the city. Guests can even see the roof of the Imperial Palace from almost every room. The hotel is also in the heart of Tokyo’s bustling financial district, just a few blocks from the city’s famous Ginza neighborhood.
The new Palace Hotel Tokyo was built from the ground up at a total cost of $1.2 billion. It officially opened this past May. The property is modern in every sense, with all the amenities clients would expect from a five-star property. But there are reminders of Japan’s storied past all around. Guests can look out from some of the rooms and the ground-floor restaurant, the Grand Kitchen, and see white swans lazily swimming in parts of the Imperial moat that have been preserved. In fact, the hotel is within the perimeter of the old Edo palace grounds.
Remnants of the past are always present in Japan and are also evident in subtle and not-so-subtle ways in the design and construction of the hotel. Designer Terry McGinnity has fostered a “water and nature” motif with earthy colors in the public spaces, the halls and the guestrooms. The natural world outside is reflected in the leafy patterns in the carpeting and even the patterns on some of the interior walls. The long driveway leading up to the main entrance is lined with dark gray Aji stones, the same ones that line the walls of the moat.
The hotel’s 278 guestrooms and 12 suites range in size from 485 square feet to 2,500 square feet. The decor is soft and restful with the rooms laid out as if someone took the time to actually live in them during the design of the hotel. The deep bathtubs are set back from the balconies but open up so that guests can soak while taking in the Tokyo skyline. Balconies themselves are a rarity in Tokyo, which is home to 8 million people, making it one of the largest cities by density in the world. And the guestrooms come with state-of-the-art electronics: complimentary wireless, high-speed Internet access, 46- to 60-inch LCD television screens and Blu-ray DVD and CD players.
There are 10 restaurants and bars in the hotel, ranging from French to Japanese to Chinese and some others in between. For visitors to Tokyo who don’t want to miss out on their morning cup of coffee, there is a Tully’s, a branch of the Seattle-based coffee company, in the basement arcade of the hotel.