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Signature checks in to… Grand Hyatt Tokyo

Signature checks in to… Grand Hyatt Tokyo

Traveller:            C. James Dale

Room:                 Grand King with Club Access

Address:             6-10-3 Roppongi, Minato-ku, Tokyo 106-0032 Japan

Date:                    July 2017

Best for:             Luxury steps from the best Tokyo has to offer.

The Grand Hyatt is almost an institution in Tokyo, the stylish occupant of a trendy corner of the city’s Roppongi neighbourhood, home to the integrated property development known as Roppongi Hills. The luxury hotel has been a part of the city’s fabric since 2003, loved by locals and visitors for its location, restaurants and bars. It’s also a go-to destination for MICE business, with 15 event facilities spread out over 2800 square metres.

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The Signature factor

Guests of Grand Hyatt Tokyo enjoy a mix of modern Japanese and Western design, a bold blend of wood, fabric and metal that helps to showcase roughly 200 pieces of art. If you’re looking for traditional Japanese dwellings, look elsewhere (although the Ambassador Suite has some touches, such as tatami mats and a Japanese garden). The Grand Hyatt is a proper urban hotel that’s earned its reputation as a destination unto itself in, arguably, Asia’s best city.

The concept

Location, location, location… combined with convenience, a dizzying array of F&B options, all at the doorstep of central Tokyo. Most of Grand Hyatt’s 387 rooms and suites may be smaller than those found in other five-star properties, but few hotels can beat its cool and cosmopolitan neighbourhood. Roppongi Hills is a community within a community, home to about 200 shops and restaurants, along with an art museum, city observatory and movie theatre. The tony Tokyo Midtown complex is just a short distance away, as are the must-see neighbourhoods of Hiroo, Harajuku, Aoyama and Omotesando.

First impressions

OK, so time for a confession: I lived in Tokyo from 2010-2015 and I never stayed at Grand Hyatt. Maybe I took it for granted, given I biked or walked past it a few times a week, or met friends there for brunches, dinners and drinks.

Still, it was the urban escape I’d always secretly dreamed of enjoying. I often found myself lingering in the lobby, drinking in the dark, earthy tones along with the hustle-bustle of the Japanese and foreign guests coming and going. The Grand didn’t disappoint upon my return. Our taxi whisked us from Haneda Airport to the underground drop-off point, where staff guided us inside and then up to our room. It was all there: the impeccable surroundings, the warm yet deliciously minimal hallways, the unparalleled Japanese service. I’d finally arrived.

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The room

The trade off, as I warned earlier, is a cosier home. The Grand King is 42 square metres compared to similar rooms in sister hotel, Park Hyatt Tokyo, which range from 45 to 55 square metres. But the city views can be just as good, with some suites enjoying vistas that include Mount Fuji on a clear day. The mattresses are deep and enveloping, covered with Egyptian cotton linens bearing that F word we all love to hear: Frette. The bathrooms are tricked out with rain showers and boast tubs big enough to make a nearly two-metre-tall man (me) happy. Another amenity of our room was just a hop, skip and life ride away: the Club Lounge, which offers a hearty breakfast buffet and early-evening cocktails combined with hors d’œuvres.

Top suite

Size is not an issue when it comes to the grandest of rooms at Grand Hyatt – the Presidential Suite – a favourite for some celebs (see below). What doesn’t this luxury perch in the sky have? Garden: check. Living room: check. Heated outdoor pool: check (apparently the only suite that has one in all of Tokyo). The floor-to-ceiling windows provide loads of natural light and offer stunning cityscape views. The 260-square-metre suite, with 78-square-metre connecting room, occupies the entire 21st floor of the hotel. And, as is typical for digs such as these, it’s also available for corporate events.

On my plate

Just look at the Michelin Guide for Tokyo and you’ll see that the list of starred restaurants goes on and on and on (more than 220 and counting). Still, you’ll find yourself resisting the pull to explore the Japanese capital’s culinary landscape when you discover what’s available at Grand Hyatt: more than half a dozen restaurants offering Japanese, Cantonese, French and Italian cuisine.

We had an unforgettable Sunday brunch at the Oak Door, sitting in the packed, light-filled restaurant and sipping champagne before tucking into to-die-for tomatoes, taraba crab cakes accompanied by a subtle aioli sauce, fresh fish from Tsukiji market coated in a caper-raisin sauce, and savoury Japanese Wagyu beef. After all that, it really felt like there was no room for dessert, but it was a necessary evil: a soft-serve ice-cream sundae coated with crumble, black sugar jelly and Japanese whisky. Totemo oishī desu!

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I wish I could take home

Given my years spent loving life as a resident of Japan, these days when I visit Tokyo there’s no one thing I long to take away with me. It’s more of an overall, intangible feeling I wish I could bring back in my bags. The contemporary design touches, the aesthetic, the wabi-sabi and the unrivalled service, known in Japanese as omotenashi. These are all qualities on full display at Grand Hyatt, making my stay so enjoyable and my departure so difficult.

Spa life

Arriving at the Nagomi Spa & Fitness level, you’ll be struck by the otherworldly surroundings. Next to the red granite pool is an orb of light, making the room feel more like the stylish interior of a spaceship than a chic urban spa. The rooms are quiet, cloistered sanctuaries offering a range of treatments and packages: massages using yuzu and ginger oil, acupressure and hot stones; facials using LED red light, impulse micro-current therapy, anti-ageing creams, and – wait for it – caviar.

I went the more conventional route and tried the signature Nagomi massage, which is designed to relieve muscle tension and was the perfect way to end a long day of exploring Tokyo. And it began in a perfectly Japanese way, with the therapist whispering in my ear “yorshiku onegaishimasu”, which doesn’t have a direct equivalent in English, but can translate to “let’s work hard together”. Where else in the world would you hear that?

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Staying in

This one’s easy: brunch at The French Kitchen; relax in the room; hit the gym, followed by a swim in the pool and spa treatment. After tea or coffee, get dressed and start the night with drinks and hors d’œuvres at the Grand Club Lounge. Then dinner (Keyakizaka? Roku Roku? Chinaroom?) and a nightcap at The Oak Door. Recommended drinks include the Tokyo Kiss, the Lychee Martini, the Classic Mojito, and the Yuzu Mojito.

Stepping out

This one’s tough: there’s just too much to do within a short distance of Grand Hyatt. You could spend at least half a day wandering around the neighbouring Roppongi Hills, from shopping to eating, movies to art.

Lovers of high fashion will relish the easy access to stores such as Louis Vuitton, Diane von Furstenberg and Hugo Boss. Tokyo Tower is a short taxi ride away (free entry if it’s your birthday). Bookworms and magazine enthusiasts will want to wander down to the bottom of Keyakizaka-dori and spend some time inside Tsutaya Tokyo Roppongi (open 7am to 4am, or 7:00-28:00 according to local timekeeping convention).

For nearby eats, try Obika Mozzarella Bar and the laidback Lauderdale. Coffee-lovers should zip to Nem in Hiroo (hidden in a back alley across from the enchanting Arisugawa-no-miya Memorial Park) or Blue Bottle in Aoyama (and while you’re in Aoyama, grab some Mediterranean food at the lovely Cicada). Or, why not spend a morning wandering the exhibits and immaculate gardens of Nezu Museum? Then my personal favourite for an intimate evening out: dinner at the simple yet seductive Teyandei in Nishi Azabu (small house on a side street with no sign on the door) followed by drinks a short distance away at the dark and cosy Library Lounge These.

The accolades

  • 2017 Forbes Travel Guide – Four-Star Hotel and Spa
  • 2017 Michelin Guide Tokyo – Five Pavilion Luxury Hotel
  • 2017 TripAdvisor – Certificate of Excellence Hall of Fame, Top 25 Luxury Hotels in Japan.
  • 2016 Travel + Leisure – 10 Best Hotels in Tokyo

Celebrity sightings

Madonna and Eric Clapton are repeat visitors. They both stayed in the Presidential Suite in 2016 (on separate occasions), with Madonna checking in for a couple of weeks and, according to staff, keeping the kitchen on its toes when it came to her culinary requirements. Canadian actor Emily VanCamp stayed at the hotel in 2012 when she was in Tokyo for a promotional tour.

Pet peeves

The rooms are too small.

If only…

The Grand Club Lounge served drinks and cocktails all night, not just in the early evening.

Where to find it:

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