Hotel Review: Japan: Conrad Tokyo

Hotel Review: Japan: Conrad Tokyo
Contemporary Japan marries two themes at its heart: dizzyingly modern Tokyo illustrates the bustling commerce and flashy high tech that defines the country, yet the culture retains its traditional devotion to nature, concentrating and cultivating it to create blissful environments that nearly exude tranquility. Those two elements – gleaming modernity and serene nature – weave together seamlessly in the Conrad Tokyo, the city's first designer hotel in years – and now the largest – as well as one of the most stunning to ever rise in Japan.

The pulsating urban environment prevails when one approaches the 37-story building, which shoots up in the heart of the Shindrome District, sprouting from a business and media complex that includes subways stations. Soaring up to the lobby on the 28th floor, one steps into a most extraordinary world in the clouds, an environment dominated by breath-taking views and an airy, flower-filled spaciousness rarely discovered in this city, the world's largest and most dense: the ceilings in public areas span nearly two full floors, and, at 48 square meters (517 square feet), even a standard guest room in the Conrad Tokyo is larger than a typical Tokyo apartment, which is one reason why Tokyo residents are among the most frequent guests. (Suites range from 72 square meters (818 square feet) to 226 square meters (2,433 square feet)

The push and pull between metropolis and nature is underscored in the architecture: “city” rooms peer out into a myriad of sleek skyscrapers, so close one can nearly see business meetings underway. “Garden” rooms spill a view onto the lush Hamarikyu Gardens below (a former imperial residence) and onto the ships gliding across Tokyo Bay. Both types of rooms offer the latest amenities – 37-inch plasma screen TV, CD player, a huge bathroom (with rain shower and free standing tub) set off behind glass with electronically-lowered shutters, even a heated toilet seat – in a wood-wrapped setting filled with traditional touches from the lacquer boxes and teapot to the orchid in shallow pool of water and cherry blossom wall hanging.

The spectacular views are played to the hilt by floor-to-ceiling windows that literally are the back walls of each room: whether one is sipping martinis in the lobby bar, dipping into Kazahana's sushi that resembles a floral arrangement, stretching on the wall-length couch in a guest room or working out in the state of the art gym, eyes are unconsciously pulled to the dazzling view. While the scene outside intoxicates, the interior design subtly delights: muted colors, clean lines, paper lamps, an abundance of wood and Japanese minimalism are accentuated with art by local creators, much in the sun and moon theme. No interior setting, however, is more striking than that found in the Conrad's restaurant China Blue where one may savor shark fin under fantastically triple-tiered periwinkled-colored lights while gazing at the impressive see-through wine cellar upstairs. British celebrity and three-Michelin star chef Gordon Ramsey has leant his name and recipes for dishes from lobster ravioli to pigs trotters in the same-named restaurant also on the 28th floor, where you can sit at the special chef's table in front of the open kitchen, but it may be impossible to find beef more tender than that served up in Japanese restaurant Kazahana. In between meals, elegant circularly-designed Mizuki spa (Tokyo's largest) beckons: one may indulge in vinotherapy or herbal oil treatments or sink into a wooden tub with gold flakes in the water.

So self-contained is this dramatic, high-altitude world that one may not feel compelled to leave, which may be the hotel's only flaw: it can be hard to pull oneself out of this dream and get motivated to discover ground-level Japan.

More information: Conrad Tokyo