“ Address: 2-1-1 Nihonbashi Muromachi / Chuo-ku / Tokyo / 103-8328 Japan / Telephone: +81 (3) 3270 8800 „
I have never stayed in a Mandarin Oriental Hotel before, but it is a chain I have been very interested to try out. As we had already decided that Japan was going to be a holiday of indulgence, Mandarin Oriental Tokyo seemed a very good place to try the brand.
When it comes to vacations, I am something of a forward planner. But when I tried to book the hotel, a mere ten months in advance, I found that the on-line booking system would not co-operate. Undeterred I sent an email to the hotel enquiring about rooms and rates for my chosen four nights and was pleased to have a reply when I woke up the following day. I made my selection and a few hours later I had my reservation confirmation number.
As my holiday plans developed, I had some initial problems with understanding the Japanese rail system and pricing, so I decided to send the hotel an email to see if they could help. I listed the places we wanted to go to and the order and they shortly came back to me with details of each journey (i.e. length of journey and any changes required) as well as the prices in different classes. All the communications with me including this one were very polite, prompt and helpful.
My next contact with the hotel was the day I arrived. We travelled into the city by train arriving at "Tokyo Station". I believe most people would arrive here as it is a very expensive taxi ride from the airport and the hotel private transfer was a whopping £250 each way. The hotel is located near the station and it was only a few minutes in a taxi, but not really walking distance with our luggage.
As soon as we arrived, we were greeted by a bellman who asked our name and took charge of the luggage whilst another assistant escorted us to reception on the 38th floor. Check in took a few moments and I was pleased that the newspaper options included every single UK national. So often when I travel I find the English language newspapers offered are only the American ones and possibly an FT. Daily Mail duly ordered and the same person who took us to reception escorted us to our room, taking the lift down to the 34th floor.
Upon entering the room, the assistant flicked a switch and the blind slowly started to move up to reveal the Tokyo skyline to us. As newly arrived guests and first time visitors to Tokyo, it was a stunning and memorable visual effect.
The room itself was pretty stunning as well. I was pleased our guide did not outstay her welcome to show us how to operate the TV, light switches and every other conceivable "feature" of the room, as I wanted to look around myself as soon as possible. I also had an overwhelming urge to grab my camera and start taking photos. And whilst in honesty this is not the first time I have taken photos of somewhere I have stayed, it is not something that happens very often.
The room was very large, floors were wooden, neutral colours throughout and the furniture was contemporary and very stylish. Needless to say everything was spotless and looked brand new. I liked the room layout, as you walked in there was a large dressing area with wardrobes immediately to the left and plenty of space to leave our rather large suitcases rather than have them clutter up the main space. Walking down a small hallway and the bathroom was on the left, tea making facilities and a choice of complimentary herbal teas on the right and then the room opened up to the main bedroom / living area.
We had a king sized bed, a two seater sofa, armchair and desk. At the end of the bed was a small ottoman which contained kimonos and a pair of pajamas each. We were very pleased with our 50 inch flat screen TV and the choice of English speaking channels we found.
The bathroom was equally impressive. The floors and walls were stone and it was what I shall describe as a semi-wet room, in that the shower, separate bath and surrounding area were on the same level. The bath was a huge, deep, oval shaped tub. A pillow and a tray of bath salts was provided and I indulged every evening after a day's sight seeing. The shower was impressive too, a huge cubicle with a choice of different shower heads to choose from, including the dustbin lid one directly above and the ones at various heights on the walls. We also experienced our first Japanese loo, complete with heated seat, fake flushing sound (apparently to mask embarrassing bathroom noises), built in deodorizer and scary looking retractable washing arms.
It was about 6pm by this time and after our long journey we decided to spend our first night in Tokyo by ordering room service and watching TV. We found there to be a good range of Western and Japanese cuisine but no sushi. We both decided on something quick and Japanese washed down with a bottle of Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc. The noodle dishes were about £20 each and the wine £50, which was about what we expected, in fact it could have been much worse!
Just after we had finished eating, two members of staff turned up for turn down. The turn down was like having a second service every day in that used towels and all the other supplies like toiletries and herbal teas would be replaced as well.
The next day we decided not to bother with breakfast in the hotel (not included in our room rate) in favour of finding a Starbucks. We have a bit of a thing about Starbucks as there aren't any in Bermuda and also when we first met it was whilst we were both travelling round Asia on our respective career breaks and we always used to meet up in Starbucks. Anyway I digress.
We took the lift back up to reception and presented ourselves at the concierge desk. They were very helpful in proving maps of the area, and told us the location of the nearest Starbucks and metro station, the latter being right under the hotel and the former thankfully only a short stroll away. We also asked if they could book the train tickets for the rest of our trip, something we had not found a way of doing in advance. We went through our plans, which involved several train journeys over the next two weeks, but I felt very comfortable that these would be booked just as we asked. Well founded trust. When we got back to the hotel later, we had all our tickets on the right days and times, an itinerary document and the tickets themselves which are printed in Japanese, included handwritten English translations. We were all set.
To leave the hotel we had to cross the reception area and go down a different set of lifts than those you can use to access your room. At first I found it quite irritating to have to go up to the 38th floor, walk across the huge reception and then take a different lift back down to the 34th floor. However forever the voice of reason my husband pointed out that it was normal to have to pass through reception when you enter a hotel and if the set up wasn't like this, any Tom, Dick or Harry could wander in and access the guest room floors without being noticed by staff.
The hotel is in a fairly quite neighbourhood, there is a large upscale department store next door, a couple of other shops and there was one side street where all the buildings were traditional Japanese in style, seemed to be mainly places to eat and we thought would be worth exploring in the evening. There was not much else for your average holiday maker but this didn't matter at all because the metro station which was an interchange station was very close by. One evening, we did go back to that side street to explore, but as we found elsewhere in Japan, places to eat tended to be functional places that one would not spend much more than 30 minutes in and most bars were rather dodgy looking ones. So there was not much to suit us by way of evening entertainment but we found that generally so not a negative for this hotel.
The hotel does have a few different restaurants featuring different international cuisines, but we didn't try them out, although we had room service twice as we were happy to stay in as it was so comfortable and pleasant. I think I also felt a certain need to get my money's worth out of the room, I will come to price later. We did go to the bar on the 37th floor a couple of times at the end of the day, the drinks were quite expensive £10 for a very small glass of champagne but it was a beautiful bar, very elegant and we enjoyed being there. The only small slip in service throughout our stay occurred here one day, we had some trouble getting served and then our waitress did not speak very good English (unlike the rest of the staff) so even after we managed to order we didn't actually get our order. In the end we left, but as we went through reception we mentioned it and shortly afterwards two glasses of complimentary champagne were brought to our room and another two we had taken on a previous occasion were knocked of our room bill. So no lingering complaint there.
On our second afternoon I had booked a treatment in the spa, I opted for a two hour Thai massage and had been advised to go to the spa an hour before the appointment to "enjoy the facilities". Well I did this but actually found the facilities a bit disappointing, all there was were some oversized baths, I wouldn't call a pool because it was not big enough or deep enough to swim in and showers. I didn't really need an hour for this so I ended up spending most of the time in the "relaxation room" reading. The treatment was very nice though and I got to keep another pair of silk pajamas.
Finally to the room costs, well this is the Mandarin Oriental and was always going to be a huge extravagance. We did not opt for the cheapest room but we were a long way from the most expensive as well, paying the equivalent of about £420 a night.
To summarise I really enjoyed my stay here and whilst I would hesitate to call a £420pn hotel room "value for money", I don't resent paying it and think I got just what I wanted and expected.