Although one might not think that Japan is the go-to tourist destination in Asia when compared to their southeastern neighbors, the land of the rising sun has much more in store for potential visitors than one might assume. The incredibly rich history, dating back millennia, would be reason enough to include the island nation on your itinerary, but that’s not all contemporary Japan has to offer.
The megalopolis of Tokyo alone has a vast array of modern luxury accommodation, while the forest ryokans make for ideal retreats and will ensure respite from the urban jungle, as well as provide ample opportunity to soak in the local culture.
Located in one of the tallest buildings in Tokyo, the Ritz-Carlton occupies the 45th-53rd floors of the sky-high Midtown Tower. Its prime location makes it perfect for business and leisure travelers alike. The nearby Roppongi district is brimming with nightclubs, bars, designer fashion boutiques, while the Mori Art Museum and the National Art Center exhibit international masterpieces. The Tokyo Midtown is also a great shopping destination.
The interior of the glass tower is as chic as its exterior. On the ground floor, there’s a small lobby with exquisite floral arrangements, but other than that, everything is on the 45th floor. The actual lobby, once you get up there, is as vast as any with high ceilings, marble floors, and a cozy lounge area and bar.
The rooms and suites are posh, but nothing too over-the-top. Amenities include flat-screen TVs, a safe, a minibar, air conditioning, and complimentary bathrobes. All of the rooms and suites also include free wi-fi. All of the rooms provide incredible views of the Tokyo skyline that you can enjoy while sipping coffee from the excellent Nespresso machines.
If you’re looking for a quick endorphin rush, hit the incredibly well-equipped gym/fitness center, or if you prefer swimming, there’s an awesome adult swimming pool. The Ritz-Carlton also provides bicycle rentals and concierge services upon request. It goes without saying that at a hotel of this stature, especially in Tokyo, the staff’s attentiveness and friendliness is unlike any other.
The go-to place for dinner would definitely be the Michelin-starred Azure 45 where you can enjoy delicious and equally visually pleasing French delicacies while enjoying the vistas from the 45th floor. Other options include Towers, which is a grill restaurant, Hinokizaka, serving traditional Japanese cuisine, or La Boutique, if you feel like sampling some of the best pastry in Tokyo. The Lobby Lounge, the Bar, and the Ritz-Carlton Cafe & Deli provide delicious drinks and we suggest trying their afternoon tea, the exotic cocktails, and specialty coffees respectively.
Mandarin Oriental Tokyo is located in what they boast to be the birthplace of modern Tokyo. The Nihonbashi neighborhood is immensely vibrant, including shopping centers, restaurants, as well as some historical landmarks such as the Fukutoku Shrine. Even though it’s about 15 minutes away (by car) from our previous suggestion, we’d be splitting hairs if we tried to compare the two. Nevertheless, Mandarin Oriental provides a unique ambiance and is too good of a hotel not to be included in this list.
The interior of the Mandarin Oriental is somewhat minimalistic, although there are noteworthy Japanese touches throughout, making the design equally contemporary and traditional in terms of decor. Most of the rooms and suites have floor-to-ceiling windows from which you can enjoy sweeping vistas of the Tokyo skyline or Mount Fuji in the distance.
Room amenities include minibars, safes, free wi-fi, flat-screen TVs, coffee and tea making machines, complimentary terrycloth robes and yoga mats, and much more. The bathrooms are commodious, featuring walk-in showers and soaking tubs, complimentary toiletries, and hairdryers.
In terms of facilities, the hotel has all bases covered, although the lack of a swimming pool might prove to be off-putting. The gym is equipped with all sorts of workout machines, the spa center with its treatment rooms and lounges is definitely well worth the visit, while dry saunas and steam rooms ensure utmost rejuvenation.
If you have a developed taste for gourmet cuisine, you ought to pay a visit to the Michelin-starred Signature, while the more easy-going Pizza Bar on the 38th floor is pretty self-explanatory. Other fine-dining options include the Michelin-starred Sense, serving Cantonese, and the Tapas Molecular Bar, which focuses on molecular food preparation.
Deluxe rooms start at $360, while the suites go all the way up to $1800.
The first ryokan (or ‘traditional inn) on our list has to be Beniya Mukayu. Located on the scenic Yakushiyama foothills, this hot spring lodge exists for the sole purpose of sensory bliss of its visitors. From the incredibly attentive staff, to the zen environment, and the incredible blend of Japanese culture with contemporary luxury, this establishment is probably the archetype of what a modern ryokan should be. It’s also worth mentioning that the lodge is part of the illustrious Relais & Châteaux hotel association.