We took a taxi from Haneda Airport and, at 11:15pm on a Saturday night, it was a quick albeit expensive (with tolls, nearly $60) ride to the Andaz Tokyo, which is in a new shopping and office complex called Toranomon Hills.
The hotel is accessed through a porte-cochere and then an elevator ride to the 51st floor, where the lobby and the hotel’s main restaurant, Andaz Tavern, are located. Given that it was so late, the restaurant and its bar were closed and the lobby was quiet. There was a small check in area off the lobby where a host issued us keys very quickly. It appears that had we arrived during the day or evening, we’d have been offered a drink during check-in, though we were fairly tired and eager to get to our room anyway.
The lobby is near the top of Toranomon Hills tower, and the rooms are located in the floors below the lobby. Our room was on the 48th floor, and the host took us down and led us to the room.
The aesthetics of the hotel were immediately evident: it is, not to overstate things, exquisite. The elevator itself was stunning, even.
The hotel had a typically “modern” Andaz feel, though the design hearkened back to elegant midcentury Japanese design. It didn’t feel like a W at all, say, but rather like a beautifully updated version of the old Sterling Cooper set from the early seasons of “Mad Men.”
The guest floors are large and have quite long hallways, but they were an absolute pleasure to walk through. Every inch of the hotel had a faint but intoxicating scent.
Our room was an Andaz Twin room, and my goodness was it enormous, especially for a hotel in a city notorious for space limitations.
The foyer had beautiful polished stone floors and mood lighting from a blown glass lamp on a storage console.
There was a separate console at the end of the foyer containing the minibar and a Nespresso machine, as well as a teapot.
The minibar was gorgeously organized. As with all Andazes, snacks and non-alcoholic beverages are free of charge.
The foyer led to the rest of the guestroom, which overlooked the city. There was a terrifically comfortable sofa spanning the width of the windows.
At the end of the sofa is a desk with a pull out stool, which seemed to me to be an ingenious use of space.
The two twin beds faced the wall of windows, and felt very “Japanese.” As I’ve been told is the norm in Japan, the mattresses were extremely firm. The beds came with one pillow each, and I didn’t see any other pillows in the closet, but housekeeping brought two extra pillows within minutes of my phone request.
A console between the two beds had control switches for the lighting, shades and “do not disturb” sign in the room. It seemed very high-tech, but I liked the analog nature of the switches themselves.
There was also a mini-Bluetooth speaker to connect to iPods and phones, as well as an analog, old-school style alarm clock. There were US-compatible outlets everywhere.
The giant flat screen television was embedded in the wall panels, but swung out seamlessly. It’s a great use of space, if you ask me — minimalist, but also luxurious.
The closet in the foyer contained an elegant yellow umbrella, as well as two traditional Japanese robes with sashes, and two types of slippers (a thong-style, and a Western-style slipper). All were, in my opinion, beautifully designed.
Really, not to sound like a broken record, but the design in the room was “unique” — sure, you can say that about lots of boutique hotels and many an Andaz — but also sumptuous, and really jaw-dropping.
For instance, while the idea of a chartreuse carpet in 2015 might sound iffy, if not altogether nauseating, the execution of the color here is perfect: calming, distinct, retro and yet tasteful.
There were other touches throughout that brought that concept home, as well, particularly in the wall decor.
As for the bathroom, well, as stunned as I was by the guestroom, the bathroom was even lovelier.
The sink console was beautifully carved and polished piece of wood, and the entire bathroom was dark and masculine, yet effortlessly elegant.
Opposite the sink are a series of shelves containing tissues, a hair dryer, some beautifully organized (and generous) amenities, and towels.
And by beautifully organized amenity kit… I mean it.
The toilet was, as expected, a modern Japanese Toto toilet, though this one was sleek and unobtrusive, with nary a cable or wall plug in sight.
To the right of the sink was a huge shower room, with a separate bathtub just off the shower.
Toiletries were unbranded (as far as I could tell), though they were great, in my experience.
And yet as magnificent as the room decor itself was, the real star of the guestroom was the view, which was phenomenal.
It was gorgeous at night.
It was awe-inspiring during the day, with views to the skyscrapers of Shinjuku and beyond.
In short, it was the kind of view that made you want to linger in bed and just stare.
The first morning, we walked across the street and explored the neighborhood. Aside from being in a high-rise mall of sorts, there are several amenities within walking distance – including a terrific breakfast place called Good Morning Cafe across the street, convenience stores everywhere and the Toranamon stop of the Tokyo Metro just two blocks away.
That being said, Toranomon is not the most conveniently-located neighborhood for tourists. It isn’t “happening,” and tends to be quiet on weekends. It’s about a fifteen minute walk to the Ginza and just a bit more to the Imperial Palace and its gardens, however. The Tokyo Tower observation deck is about a twenty minute walk to the south, and there’s a charming historic shrine and temple complex just a block or two to the south of Toranomon Hills. Everything else is easily accessible by subway. However, this isn’t the hippest, coolest neighborhood, and it’s rather far from most of what tourists will want to see and do in Tokyo.
We used the gym and spa facilities on both days, which are free to use for hotel guests (with the exception of spa treatments, etc., which of course are priced accordingly). The Spa is branded as “AO Spa.”
The entry to the spa and gym facilities is gorgeous.
The hallways leading to the men’s locker room and gym were just pieces of art, from an architectural standpoint.
As for the gym itself, it was decently sized and not particularly busy, with a variety of machines and equipment. Needless to say, the gym boasted terrific views, facing north.
I was able to work out facing the Imperial Palace.
It was the pool facility which impressed me most, however. There’s a large lap pool overlooking the city, with a grotto to the side containing what the hotel calls the “water experience” — two huge, beautiful infinity hot tubs leading to a dark, spacious warm-water (but not hot-water) bathing pool.
In short, I’ve rarely seen hotel spa and gym facilities that blow me away, but the Andaz’s spa is truly spectacular. I spent at least two hours at the spa one afternoon just in the water experience alone, and it’s a wonderful retreat at the end of a day exploring an otherwise hectic and crowded city.
Food and Drink
Though my friend and I are both Platinum Gold Passport members, we aren’t Diamonds, meaning we weren’t entitled to free breakfast. Nonetheless, we decided to get breakfast at the hotel on the second morning in the signature restaurant, Andaz Tavern. (There’s also a pastry shop in the Andaz ground-level lobby offering more quick and casual fare for breakfast.)
Andaz Tavern doesn’t offer breakfast a la carte, and only does a buffet, even during the weekday. Surprisingly, however, the breakfast buffet wasn’t offensively priced (as I’d expected it to be), but was ¥3000 per person, or just a little under $25.
The restaurant itself is beautiful, with soaring ceilings and, of course, knockout views.
There are sculptures hanging from the ceiling lending to the airy atmosphere.
The breakfast buffet was, to put it mildly, abundant. There were a variety of juices.
And an entire table devoted to bread and pastries.
Another table was devoted to smoked salmon, cream cheese, charcuterie, and cheeses, while yet another was dedicated to dairy and yogurt parfaits.
The fruit selection was not something you’d see in America, with the most adorably sized selection of bananas, berries, plums and apples.
There was an omelette station as well as selection of waffles, Nutella-filled brioche french toast, and scrambled eggs.
Finally, a selection of Japanese- and Asian-style breakfast dishes, including miso cod, which was delicious.
Again, without harping on the style and design of the Andaz, I just want to point out how incredible the restaurant’s plate selection was. I mean, whereas in any other given luxury hotel you’d help yourself to a basic if nice white china plate, here it was a visual buffet of ceramics at your disposal.
To me, this is when a hotel advertising itself as “unique” (as in theory, all Andazes do) really delivers.
We also visited the Rooftop Bar on the second night, which was partially outdoors and located at the very top of the Toranomon Hills skyscraper. The bar had views toward the south and east, facing Tokyo Bay, and was pretty, if rather sceney, smokey and packed. Drinks were not cheap — though by the standards of the New York Bar at the Park Hyatt Tokyo, they were a steal.
I actually preferred the Tavern Bar on the 51st floor, which had a more laid-back vibe and felt more peaceful, though it boasted equally impressive views, as well as a cozy fireplace nook.
Andaz Tokyo Toranomon Hills Bottom Line
I was expecting a “typical Andaz” when I booked this hotel — and surely expecting it to be the second banana to the famed Park Hyatt Tokyo.
By “typical Andaz,” I mean nice, friendly, comfortable, easy. Mildly quirky rooms, a reasonably hip vibe, but less full of itself than a W.
In truth, the Andaz Tokyo is really on another level entirely. It’s truly a luxury hotel, with a design and style that took my breath away. It really is hard to put into words what is such a visceral feeling, but I have tried to capture how truly lovely this property is — yet I also can’t do it justice, since it’s really a visual (sensory, even, since the scents used throughout the hotel are part of its appeal) experience you have to see for yourself.
As for service, the hosts made and changed reservations for us with aplomb, and the host at the AO Spa was terrific, just the right mixture of friendly, helpful and also genuine and unobtrusive. I think fans of the Andaz chain expect the service to be there when you need it, and out of the way when you don’t, and in this way the service at the Andaz was exceptional to me. However, the hotel didn’t give off a five-star service “vibe” as the Park Hyatt does (i.e., the sort of over-the-top welcome gestures and bows and such, bordering on obsequious) in part because I don’t think it positions itself that way.
Really, the only “con” with the Andaz may be its location, which is in a bit of an odd-duck neighborhood. However, the hotel is a quick walk to the subway and a leisurely walk to some of Tokyo’s sights in Ginza and near the Imperial Palace grounds. I actually didn’t mind it, and while it was a bit further of a taxi ride from the more “happening” restaurants and shops, the solitude of the neighborhood is appreciated after a long day out in the sensory overload that is Shibuya or Shinjuku.
In my opinion? The best Andaz out there, and maybe one of the nicest Hyatt properties, period.