When: November 2019
Where: Tokyo, Japan
Length of stay: 4 nights
Room booked: Horizon Club Deluxe Imperial Garden View Room
Room got: Horizon Club Premier Room
Price per night: 98 000 JPY
Travel companion: Wife
Status / collaboration: AMEX Platinum booking / Collaboration with hotel
For years I had wanted to visit a Shangri-La property, but until Autumn of 2019 I hadn’t gotten around to it. I even had their second highest customer level (Jade) because of Amex Platinum without even stepping foot into one of their properties. Finally on my 30th birthday trip it was time to see if Shangri-La really lives up to its name.
Shangri-La Hotel, Tokyo can be found in the Marunouchi area of Tokyo right next to the Tokyo Station, which is the main transportation hub of the city, so the location is absolutely perfect. Even though we’ve been to Tokyo six times before this trip, we hadn’t really spent that much time this side of town, so it was a nice change of pace and an opportunity for us to see how the area fits our style.
When our taxi arrived at the hotel building and drove into the underground garage, we were a little perplexed and thought “What hotel has any kind of main entrance in a parking garage?” After a few twists and turns we rounded the corner and were surprised to see a ceiling full of crystal chandeliers and one of the main entrances into the Shangri-La Hotel, Tokyo. By the way, if you happen to arrive by train to Tokyo Station, Shangri-La Hotel, Tokyo provides a meet-and-greet service, so that you don’t have to try to find your way through the station’s maze all by yourself.
When our taxi pulled up immediately four bellhops came to the car, got our bags, greeted us with a wide smile and escorted us into the elevator that took us to the 28th floor. When we got into the elevator and the doors closed, I had to control myself from smiling at the opulence of the hotel. We usually stay at more classic and toned down hotels, but this was luxury with a capital L. The elevator seemed like it was three stories tall, the handlebars were glass tubes full of sparkly glass (crystals?) and even the freaking elevator had a crystal chandelier. The elevator! I loved every bit of it.
After passing by the main lobby and reception area we were taken to another elevator that took us to the Horizon Club on the 37th floor, where we had our check-in. Once again we were greeted by warm smiles and asked to go into the actual Horizon Club lounge, sit down, maybe have some champagne and let them handle the check-in. So there we sat, sipping bubbly, marveling at the Tokyo skyline and relaxing. This is what a check-in process should be.
Without even noticing the check-in was completed and we were told that our room was ready even though the real check-in time was still two or three hours away. They also congratulated us on my birthday and our wedding anniversary and asked when we would like to have our cake delivered to the room. Often hotels acknowledge a customer’s special day by giving a generic note and maybe some fruits (if they even take notice), but others really do something more special, like the Shangri-La Hotel, Tokyo did.
So we headed into our room and were absolutely stunned when we opened the door. The room immediately became one of my favourite hotel rooms anywhere and the amazing views were a huge bonus on top of everything else. The handwritten welcome note that we got from director of guest services said “Welcome in your home away from home in Tokyo”, which nailed the feeling we got. We truly felt like home. Soon we heard a knock on the door and we knew it was time for some cake! They set the table, brought us all sorts of treats and left the room. They also provided candles if you want them in your cake. And of course I wanted to blow the candles!
We stayed on the 36th floor in a 68 square meter (732 sqf) Horizon Club Premier Room that was situated in a corner with a stunning view of Tokyo Skytree, Tokyo Station and also a little glimpse of the Tokyo Tower. Because the room is 68 m2, it is obviously extremely spacious, but it didn’t feel too bare or minimalistic. The colours and materials used throughout the room made it feel luxurious and opulent, but also very cosy at the same time.
Because Tokyo Station is literally next to the hotel, you can at times hear the trains go by. This didn’t bother me at any point, even though I’m pretty easily irritated by noises from outside, but my wife said she heard them at times when she slept. However I don’t think this will really bother anyone badly. And on the plus side, because we could see the station from our window, it meant we could watch shinkansen (bullet trains) come and go, which was nice.
One of the first things we noticed was that the room was kept very clean during our stay, which is always extremely important to us. It help us relax a lot better, when we know everything is in order.
The room had a large bed, a good sized worktable and a stylish sofa where you could lounge and take in the view. Also the windowsills were so big that it was easy to sit there and just watch the world go by behind the window.
I also wanted to mention that when you order room service at the Shangri-La Hotel, Tokyo it’s like eating in a restaurant. I mean look at the beautiful bowl my delicious beef was presented in!
The bathroom was huge and I really liked that the shower was in a spacious and separate space. Even though there was only one sink, the area was easily big enough for two people to get ready at the same time in the morning, so that was a plus. The bathtub was great, it had an amazing view, like the rest of the room, and it also had a TV which I really liked. I only found one area in the room that I could see some wear and tear that had accumulated over the years and it was the bathtub, which is common in hotels. Also the only minor cleanliness suggestion would be to clean the surfaces around the tub better, because when people take a bubble bath, the foam gets on the marble surfaces, dries and leaves marks that weren’t cleaned properly, so the area doesn’t look as clean. However this was only a minor issue.
In Shangri-La the club lounge is called the Horizon Club, which is a suitable name especially for one that is so high up like in the Shangri-La Hotel, Tokyo. The Horizon Club offers breakfast in the morning (that you can have in the hotel’s other restaurants as well, if you want), light refreshments throughout the day, afternoon tea and also evening cocktails with some food as well.
I will tell you about the breakfast in its own section, so for now I will only talk about the other offerings and the lounge in general. The Horizon Club lounge isn’t the largest club lounge I’ve seen, so especially during evening cocktails it’s pretty full, but there was always space for us, so this was never a problem. It feels a bit more intimate than most lounges because of the size, which I actually preferred.
Everytime we stepped into the Horizon Club, the staff at the reception desk stood up and warmly welcomed us in without ever asking our room number or names, which showed they always knew their guests. It’s a small thing, but it helps you feel more at home and more welcome instead of just another number.
During the day there is always champagne and other kinds of refreshments available, which I appreciate. We also tried the lounge twice during afternoon tea service and were positively surprised to notice the high quality of the foods on offer. The afternoon tea set available here was more of a sneak peek and not a full set, but it was more than enough in a lounge. Usually I don’t eat the foods (except breakfast) at club lounges because I’m just not interested on what they have, but Shangri-La Hotel, Tokyo was a great exception.
During evening the Horizon Club lounge offered a selection of foods, sweets (that you could also put into a small bag and take with you) and also different kinds of wines and other alcohol. We got into the taste of sparkling sake that they served during the evening hours.
The service was one of the highlights of the Shangri-La Hotel, Tokyo. Pretty much everyone we saw an interacted with had a smile on their face and they were always happy to help, especially in the entrance lobby, the reception and the lounge. However our experience in their restaurant called the Lobby Lounge wasn’t on the same level. Somehow the service felt slow, mediocre and a bit robotic. It was a huge contrast to other parts of the hotel, because everywhere else it was such a pleasure to interact with the staff.
Other than that we were always pleased with the service. We got a great restaurant recommendation when we asked, they helped me figure out where I could take my watch for a bit of shortening (and they also asked about it the next time we saw if everything went okay). Also the people at the lounge were wonderful. We especially bonded with Matsumoto-san, who had an interesting story to tell. She is Japanese, but she had been living in NYC for 35 years before moving back to Tokyo in 2019. Because she had apparently been a housewife before, this was also her first job. Well she really aced it, because we really felt a connection with her during our stay in Shangri-La. I liked the way she said that, because she is the newest member, she is the “youngest” and the “oldest” at the same time, but “Youngest is the most important”. It was obvious that she had been living outside of Japan for a long time, because when we left, she hugged us warmly, which is not something you usually do in Japan, but we of course loved it. I hope she will stay in the lounge for a long time, so that we’ll have another chance to meet her again.
Housekeeping was fantastic too, like I already mentioned. It was the small things that impressed me like the fact that if I left my phonecharger on the table in a ”messy way”, they brought a cord ”organizer” for me and tidied it up. They also changed the teapot and teas on our table in the evening for soothing chamomille instead of caffeine rich sencha to help us sleep. Small things like these make a difference.
The breakfast was one of my favourite parts of the whole hotel. We only had it at the Horizon Club lounge, because it was just too good to go anywhere else. The approach here is quality over quantity, so even though there is enough variation and foods to choose from, the buffet isn’t huge. However the quality is amazing. The breakfast menu included information about different products they use in the lounge, like yogurt from Makai Ranch near Mt. Fuji, smoothies from Nagano and Russian Red Salmon (delicious).
They also served champagne, of course, different kinds of quality teas, juices and all sorts of things. The pastry selection looked like it could belong in a bakery. My only grievance was the fact that for a person with a lot of food related allergies (mostly fruits) the information provided in the buffet was very lacking, as it is pretty much in every hotel. Two times I chose a great looking pastry only to find out that it had something within that I was allergic to, like a delicious pastry covered in chocolate, but it had a suprise banana inside. One time I even asked ”is this just a plain chocolate pastry” or something, the staff went to verify and came back with a ”yes it is” and then I bit into it and it still had something else in it. I didn’t know what, so I couldn’t eat it. So if they fix the info given on their foods during breakfast, it’s pretty much perfect.
My favourite thing was the fact that in addition to the buffet they also had an a la carte menu that was included in the price of the lounge. This meant that waffles, pancakes and different kinds of eggs were available. On the first morning I just had to choose the most over the top breakfast item on offer to go with my champagne – Egg Royale, which is basically Eggs Benedict with lobster and caviar! I mean seriously! Champagne, lobster and caviar for breakfast. Sign me up! I have to admit that on the first morning I just chose this because it sounded so opulent, but when I got a taste of that deliciousness, I had to order it almost every morning. In addition to great choices between pancakes, waffles and eggs, also a traditional Japanese breakfast was available from the menu.
CHI, THE SPA
Because it had been a full year since we were previously on a proper holiday, I wanted to relax as much as possible. After checking in we found a welcome note from Shangri-La Hotel, Tokyo’s CHI, The Spa with an offer to try out their 90 minute massage for a discounted price. The actual offer was for the check-in date and the day after, but the hotel was kind enough to extend the offer by a day, so that I had enough time to try it out. Just a disclaimer that we didn’t agree on a spa review with the hotel, but I wanted to write about this too, because I liked it so much.
Granted this was only the second time I had been to a real hotel spa, so even though I don’t have much experience regarding those, I still have an eye for other things like comfort, customer service and I also know what a good massage is.
We descended down to the 29th floor of the hotel and went inside the spa area to be greeted by several smiling women, who then took us to a semi-private seating area with transparent drapes around us. It was time to relax a bit, so we were brought some tea and hot towels to refresh ourselves. After this someone came and took my wife to her manicure and I was taken to my private massage room.
My massage therapist, Emiri-san, was absolutely one of the best, most respectful and just the sweetest masseuse I’ve ever met. After she had escorted me to my treatment room, I was given the option to take a shower (didn’t need one, because I already took one in my room) and then she asked me to sit down in a comfortable chair to change my shoes into bath slippers. We discussed on what kind of a treatment I want, but I couldn’t decide between a deep tissue massage, which basically relaxes your body physically and a Chi-massage which is focused more on relaxing your mind. We agreed that she could try both for a while and then I could choose either one or have deep tissue massage in my problem areas (back and shoulders) and Chi-massage for the rest of my body, which I eventually chose. I loved the fact that I had this mix-and-match option rather than just having to stick strictly to the treatments the menu had.
After the discussion, she left me alone in the room that was dimly lit, warm and in a way felt a bit spiritual. I had plenty of time to change out of my clothes into the ever-so-fashionable “shorts” provided by the spa and a plush bathrobe. When I was ready Emiri-san re-entered the room respectfully by knocking first and awaiting my response. The thing is that I’ve never felt this kind of respect (I know I keep repeating this word) before when getting a treatment. She did her very best to make me feel comfortable. When I was asked to remove my robe and lie down on the treatment table, she raised a big towel up in the air and bowed deeply, so that she could not see me while I made myself comfortable.
Then it was time for the actual massage. I really can’t say much about it, because of the fact that I almost fell asleep like ten times during the 90 minute treatment. It was just so relaxing. The Chi-part of the massage felt more like a gentle touch than a massage, but it was very efficient in melting all my stress away. She finished the treatment by ringing a small bell over me a couple of times, which probably has something to do with balancing energies. Whatever it was, it was a nice touch of something exotic and I really liked it.
After I had put on my clothes, I was taken back to the sitting area near reception and then brought some Japanese tea and these sugared, dried ginger candies that were just so delicious that I can’t get them out of my mind even after a month of being back in Finland. After I was ready, I went up to my room in a relaxed haze.
My wife also told me about her experience so here it is in a nutshell. She too had her own private room for the duration of her manicure. The room had a big, relaxing chair that could be lowered into a flat position, relaxing spa music was playing and she was given the choice of relaxation, conversation with the manicurist or watching a movie from the big TV the room had. They have really thought of everything to make the customer feel as relaxed as possible. Her manicurist, Nana-san, was very professional and friendly, which made the experience a great one.
It’s very obvious that both of us would, and probably will, go back to CHI, the Spa at the Shangri-La Hotel, Tokyo next time we visit. I really recommend giving yourself a treat and going there, if you have a chance.
At the Shangri-La Hotel, Tokyo we truly felt like home. We absolutely loved our stay there and will definitely go back as soon as possible. Cleanliness, rooms, club lounge, breakfast, the staff and location were wonderful, but the most important thing is that we got the feeling that the staff truly cared about our wellbeing and happiness while we were staying there. It didn’t feel forced or superficial at any point and that is one of the things that makes a five star hotel a true luxury hotel.
Thank you for reading this review on the Shangri-La Hotel, Tokyo. I hope this helps you when choosing a hotel in Tokyo now or in the future. If you want to follow my travels through Instagram, you can do it here: @escapemundaneblog
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