So you may wonder why this hotel was built in the busy Otemachi financial district. It turns out that a naturally occurring hot spring lay beneath — 1,500 metres underground — making it the perfect location to open a luxury ryokan and onsen. In other words, Hoshinoya Tokyo is a traditional Japanese inn developed as a modern hotel, outfitted with a rooftop hot spring in the urban heart of the city.
Conveniently situated in Tokyo’s Chiyoda neighbourhood, Hoshinoya Tokyo is easily accessible by train or car. It’s located just outside Otemachi subway station and only a ten minute walk from Tokyo station. The Imperial Palace and its expansive majestic gardens are just across the road too, which is worth visiting during your stay. The area surrounding the hotel is mainly filled with offices and taxis can sometimes find it a little difficult to find a direct drop off point. Guests are therefore advised to use the Otemachi Financial City Grand Cubes underground parking lot or be dropped off on the second basement level.
From afar, the hotel’s monolithic dark exterior is deceivingly gloomy. A closer look reveals incredible lattice work, inspired by the geometric komon patterns of hemp leaves, that veils Hoshinoya Tokyo. Once inside, a theatrical entrance provided by automatic doors open up to a light, airy genkan entrance with soft tatami mats, high ceilings and walls lined with chestnut and bamboo shoeboxes. The hotel blends the old and the new seamlessly. It’s where traditional aromatic woods, washi paper screens and low furnishings meet modern design elements, clean lines and geometric shapes.
Upon entering, and taking off your shoes, one immediately enters a state of blissful zen. The sight, smell and sound (or lack thereof) are, for want of a better description, relaxing. And it is this quietly calm ambience that runs throughout Hoshinoya Tokyo. So much so, that guests will feel the effects for some time, even after leaving. During our stay, we noticed guests mostly consisted of multi-generation families and couples from Japan and other Asian countries. No young babies were seen but the facilities are made to be baby-friendly.
This 17-floor hotel features 84 rooms divided into three categories. The Yuri or Sakura rooms are made for two and range from 441 to 527 sq. ft. with bamboo furnishings in the traditional Japanese-style room. We stayed in the Kiku, a corner room which is the largest room at 893 sq. ft. and more spacious. It features a king size bed, walk-in closet, dining and living area, and a sizeable bathroom with a bathtub and shower room. The room basks in natural light and the sliding windows reveal the aluminium lattice which casts a rather stunning shadow on the tatami mats. Unfortunately though, the windows are not sound proof and I was woken up by sirens from a nearby fire station.
Service & Facilities: 9/10
The staff at Hoshinoya Tokyo are friendly and warm, which makes for a wonderful stay as you needn’t worry about much. Service is quick and the team are extremely knowledgable, which is helpful if, like me, you tend to have a lot of questions. There are cultural performances and ceremonies to partake in too, some of which (for example, the tea ceremony) have additional fees. Kimonos and pyjamas are provided during your stay which is a great touch, but unless you possess a smaller frame, you are likely to find them a tad too small. The top floor public onsen is only open to hotel guests, so it does feel somewhat private. Of course traditional onsen rules must be adhered to. So if you do have tattoos, these must be covered with the stickers they provide. There is also a spa to further your luxury wellness experience. For those that wish to workout, you’ll need to walk down to the nearby Spa Otemachi Fitness Club.
Food & Drink: 9/10
For dinner, guests are offered Nippon cuisine created by Executive Chef Noriyuki Hamada. The culinary style focuses on seafood, which is customary in ryokan dining and it is indeed a decadent experience. The meal is a cross between molecular gastronomy and kaiseiki, Japan’s haute cuisine. We sampled the tasting menu featuring seasonal items, which in our case was a snow crab roe emulsion, and monkfish liver with kumquat sansho pepper and meringue dish. All of which are prepared exceptionally and enhanced by chef’s creative French techniques. As a result, the dinner is fun to eat, though the atmosphere was a little too silent for our taste. Breakfast is served in your room, which is a pleasant and private experience to enjoy.
Rates: start from HK$5,940/night excluding tax, service charge and meals. Prices may vary depending on availability and season.