In collaboration with Palace Hotel Tokyo
When: November 2019
Where: Tokyo, Japan
Length of stay: 3 nights
Room booked: Club Deluxe Room With Balcony
Room got: Executive Suite
Price per night: 76 900 JPY
Travel companions: Wife
Status / collaboration: AMEX Platinum booking / Collaboration with hotel
There are just a couple of legendary, old hotels in Japan and one of the most prominent has got to be the Palace Hotel Tokyo. Even though the hotel has been around for almost 60 years the previous building was razed to make room for the current building that was reopened in 2012.
While planning for this trip, I asked my American Express platinum concierge to help me choose the best hotels and the Palace Hotel Tokyo was one she highly recommended. It is situated in the Marunoichi area literally next to the Imperial Palace, which is the very center of Tokyo. Also one of Tokyo’s main transportation hubs, the Tokyo Station, is just a few blocks away, so the location is perfect.
Our arrival to The Palace Hotel was pretty special, because that was the same day the new emperor’s parade was scheduled to happen after it had to be moved from the original date because of typhoon damage around the country. So when arriving by taxi the roads surrounding the hotel, which is next to the palace, where pretty much blocked, but thankfully customers of the hotel got through without a problem. Because of this parade, there were a couple of special rules within the hotel for that day, like the fact that no-one was allowed to bring any guests to the room before or during the parade for security reasons.
The Palace Hotel Tokyo is situated in its own building, so it is a big property even though there are only 278 rooms and 12 suites. In a way it feels massive, but intimate at the same time. After arriving by taxi we were taken from the main doors to the elevators and then up to the 19th floor for check-in at the club lounge.
At the lounge we were greeted by the extremely kind staff and asked to wait in the club lounge while they prepare our check-in. We were brought some warm oshibori-towels and some tea while we waited, which was a nice welcome. They also congratulated us because of my birthday and our wedding anniversary, which was a nice way to start our stay.
Also I really liked the fact that one of the staff members wanted to confirm our food allergies and restrictions then and there with the info she had gotten from their downstairs restaurant where we were going to have afternoon tea the next day. I thought that maybe they would especially take my allergies into consideration at the club lounge, because this was the first time the matter was brought up proactively in any hotel, but unfortunately this didn’t show during the actual stay.
Then it was time for us to be escorted into our room on the 17th floor. The room, or actually the Executive Suite, blew our minds when we stepped in. It was huge, 75 m2 (807 sqf) to be exact. In addition to the enormous room we had a balcony that stretched for the whole length of the room with a view of the park and the Imperial Palace. I mean come on! What hotel offers a balcony in the middle of Tokyo? I for one haven’t heard of any.
The kind staff showed us how everything works and then we were left to admire the room properly at which time we also noticed the great congratulatory gifts we had received. At first I thought it was a bottle of wine, but I was surprised to find that it was a very special bottle of green tea! We both love green tea, so I thought this was a great and unique way to congratulate us on our special day. It’s things like these where hotels can get creative and try something others aren’t doing and Palace Hotel Tokyo really nailed it.
Let’s start the tour with the living room, which had a dining table next to the huge windows, a sofa, a large TV and everything you might need. I felt that the whole suite had been very carefully decorated, so that it felt cosy and luxurious at the same time. In big suites and rooms in general it can sometimes be hard to furnish and decorate everything in a way that the space doesn’t feel cold and empty, but in the Palace Hotel Tokyo they really did a great job with this.
Behind two folding doors you can find the luxurious bedroom with enough privacy but still with a view of the park, because the balcony stretches all the way from the living room to the bedroom. The bedroom has a cosy little corner with a bookcase and some interesting books on all sorts of subjects, especially Japanese design etc. There is a big TV in the bedroom as well and also a Bose SoundLink Mini 2 -wireless speaker, which was so good in fact that I bought one for myself when we got home.
The view from our room was simply spectacular. If the autumn leaves had already turned, the scenery would have been even more stunning but it was still a bit too warm for that. Even though I’ve never been to New York City, I imagined Central Park could look similar to the view we had, because there is a big, green park with skyscrapers right next to it. And you can only imagine the excitement we felt the first time we realised that we could actually see the majestic Mt. Fuji from our windows and balcony! It was an absolutely perfect place to see it. Also we could watch the emperor’s parade from our balcony, which was a huge thing for us. It’s not everyday Japan gets a new emperor.
The bathroom was one of the great highlights of the room with double sinks, an enormous mirror, a Japanese smart toilet behind one glass door and bathtub and a separate shower behind another. Because of the two sinks there was a lot of room to get ready in the morning, which I really appreciate. I have to mention that the shower pressure was probably the best I’ve experienced anywhere. I don’t know why I paid so much attention to it, but the shower was just perfect. When we were given a tour of the hotel and I happened to mention that, I heard that Donald Trump had said the exact same thing when staying there. I don’t know if I should take this as a compliment, but that guy at least probably knows something about hotels, so I’ll take this as a win.
Generally the room was kept very clean throughout our stay, but I did find a hair from the bathtub (which seems to be more of a rule than an exception in hotels) in the beginning. Other than that everything was great and I have no complaints regarding the cleanliness.
This was the third hotel on our trip with a TV in the bathtub, so I was again positively surprised to find that, because I got into the custom of taking a bubble bath, having a drink and watching some crazy Japanese TV-shows. It’s the best!
Most hotels unfortunately don’t give the option in the bathroom to dim lights properly. They are either on or off, so if you want to take a relaxing bath, you will either have all or one of the lights completely on or otherwise you have to sit in the dark and maybe hold a door open. In Palace Hotel Tokyo you can dim the lights to a perfect level, if you just want to take it easy. The light dimming option also works well in the room itself with different “scenes” available on the light switchboard.
The club lounge at the Palace Hotel Tokyo is big and has everything you could need. We ate our breakfast here each morning, but I will talk more about that in its own section. Throughout the day you have access to all kinds of foods and drinks that you can enjoy while admiring the view of the Tokyo skyline and park. If the weather is nice, you can go and enjoy your afternoon tea at the private club lounge terrace.
While talking about the afternoon tea, I have to say it was on par with afternoon tea sets you usually have to pay big money for. The club lounge offered traditional things like sandwiches, but also regional specialities like soft Japanese candies called mochi which I liked a lot. And I actually thought the macaroons were from Ladurée, because they were so delicious!
Of course the club lounge also offers soft drinks, champagne, beer etc. during the day, but in the evenings there’s also wines, spirits and pretty much anything you need. The lounge always felt tranquil and spacious even when there were more customers than usual. We also appreciated that we were given the option to stay at the lounge after checking out on our last day, because we still had 4 – 5 hours to kill before heading to the airport. This made things a lot easier and more comfortable for us.
The service especially in the club lounge and generally throughout the hotel was very friendly. On the main floor it was maybe more ”businesslike” than the warm smiles in the club lounge, but overall I really liked the way the staff interacted with the customers. Our room number was only asked once the whole stay, which is a small, but important way for me to evaluate how well a hotel knows their customers.
The only actual screw up was on the first day when we went to the Grand Kitchen restaurant of the hotel to have a quick lunch. There the service was just all over the place. I understand it was an extremely busy day, because of the parade and actually we were told in the beginning that they do have a table available, but only for 1,5 hours if that is okay, which was fine, because we only wanted something quick. We both made our orders, but while making mine I told the waiter about my allergies, so he said he was going to check if the food I wanted had anything in it that I couldn’t eat. It took a long time and then he came back to tell me that I cannot have that particular meal, because of my allergies, so I ordered something else. He just took too long to come and tell me that, because soon my wife’s food already arrived. The drinks arrived 5 minutes after she had gotten her food. After the food, not before. Then it took another 15 minutes for my food to arrive at which point my wife had already eaten.
It’s a basic thing to bring drinks first and then the foods for the whole table at the same time, but they didn’t do that. There were no apologies and they didn’t try to make it up to us, so I have to say this was a letdown for me, but thankfully it was the only problem in the whole hotel.
However the club lounge is the place their customer service really shines. Each time we arrived we were greeted with a warm smile, they also made sure we have everything we need and throughout our stay they remembered small things we had talked about before, so they really showed they care about the wellbeing of customers. When asking for a restaurant recommendation, they were very thorough, so that they found us the perfect place to have dinner on a short notice.
An example of their hospitality were the congratulatory anniversary champagnes they brought us in the lounge (with cute ribbons tied to the leg of the glasses). One of the staff members also really surprised us by saying ”kiitos”, which is Finnish and means ”thank you”. And when we were first escorted into our room, a staff member took a photo of us with the hotel’s camera and surprised us with this particular photo as an anniversary gift on the day we checked out. It’s always these small, but meaningful things that leave an impression.
In the room the level of the customer service was made apparent by bringing us some chocolates and the weather report for the following day during turndown service. Housekeeping also brought us these Japanese eyewarming masks that help you relax and fall asleep faster. I had never even heard of those, but I had to try it one evening. I put on an audio book from my headphones, opened the eyemask which made the pads start heating up because of a reaction with the air. Then I put them on and soon felt the relaxing warmth spread to my eyes and face. It was a weird feeling at first, but then oh so relaxing. It’s not the sexiest look, but if you are not tired before using them, you will be after. Perfect for jetlag.
As I mentioned before, we only had breakfast at the club lounge, because we always prefer lounge breakfasts over other options. The buffet options were plentiful and they had even taken into consideration that some people like extra crispy bacon and some like it more ”loose” so they had both on offer. There were also a lot of healthy options in addition to the delicious pastries.
In addition to the buffet offerings there was also a breakfast a la carte menu with different kinds of made to order eggs like omelettes, Eggs Benedict and poached eggs, and also pancakes. We didn’t try the Japanese breakfast this time, but that too would have been available from the menu included in the breakfast. I actually have only a tiny, well not critique, but an observation. The menu said ”Choose one of our specialty dishes to enjoy with the buffet”, which for us sounded like you can only choose one, not multiple. Maybe we are just weird to read it that way, but still it confused me so I needed to verify what it means and I was wrong, you can order as many as you want. Just FYI.
The hotel has champagne on offer pretty much throughout the day, but not during breakfast, which I found a bit odd. I personally would like to have it as an option.
On the first morning the staff brought us these energetic juice shots in the beginning of breakfast, but when I asked what was in it, it turned out I was allergic to the ingredients. They realized this and apologised for not remembering right away. It would have been nice if they remembered that from there on out, but each morning we got them (I wasn’t at the table to decline). A small thing, I know, but maybe they could have noted it somewhere.
All in all the breakfast was great and we really enjoyed it each morning. The staff made sure that everything was available, tables were cleaned quickly and cups were filled when we ran out of tea or coffee. So the only things I thought could have been done a little better were very minor things.
Because I had made the reservation through Amex concierge I had a total of 300 USD to spend on the spa treatments, so this gave me the perfect opportunity to have some me-time in the hotel’s Evian Spa. They had one particular massage that I was really interested in, the ”four hand” Celestial Signature massage where you have two massage therapists giving you a treatment at the same time. Because the massage lasted for 1,5 hours, it was basically a 3 hour massage. I just had to give it a go.
The Evian Spa is very clean and sterile looking, because almost everything is white from floor to ceiling. After I had checked-in I was escorted through a door into a hallway where I was given some instructions on how to proceed. It was time to get changed and then return to the hallway to wait for my massage therapist.
After a short while I was greeted by one of my masseuses and then taken into the treatment room where I was given a chance to choose the scent of products they would be using from a couple of different options. I chose the one with jasmine and green tea, which I absolutely loved. It was a perfect mix of relaxing and refreshing. Then my masseuses Ayumi-san and Akane-san gave me time to get comfortable on the table and I was covered in towels so that really the only thing without a thick towel was the areas they were working on.
The feeling of having two people massage you was weird – in a good way. One of them only massaged my upper body and the other only concentrated on my legs and feet. So if the other was massaging my left shoulder, the other was massaging my right leg and vice versa – always diagonally. The amount of treatment I got in that 1,5 hours is astounding, because basically someone was just massaging my feet for the whole time. It was extremely relaxing.
After the treatment I was taken into a relaxation room to just rest and drink some fluids before getting dressed. A highly recommended experience, especially this kind of a massage that you cannot find from most spas.
Palace Hotel Tokyo is one of those places where when staying there you feel like you are part of history, in a place of importance, somewhere special. Through the years the hotel has managed to maintain its traditions and heritage without being afraid to embrace the modern times and the luxuries they bring with them. If you want to experience what it feels like to stay in a tranquil safe haven in the middle of the biggest city in the world, look no further, Palace Hotel Tokyo is the right place for you.
Thank you for reading this review on the Palace Hotel Tokyo. I hope this helps you when choosing a hotel in this wonderful city now or in the future. If you want to follow my travels through Instagram, you can do it here: @escapemundaneblog
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