Let me show you around my Tokyo hotel room. And then I’ll tell you something that’ll surprise you.
On the left is the dressing room, with drawers, a hanging space with wooden hangers, a long mirror and a tiny dryer on the desk for drying wet nail polish, plus a carpeted ‘valet box’ – that’s where I can drop laundry and where my daily paper arrives.
To the right is the bathroom. It’s beautifully styled, with a rough stone effect above a deep bath.
MailOnline Travel checks into a hotel room that was packed with luxurious touches and impressive functionality
It has a self-contained walk-in dressing room, fashioned from beautiful wood
The hotel’s lobby is sensational. ‘It has a permanent air of muted excitement,’ writes Ted. ‘A huge statement chandelier formed from dozens of dangling light bulbs hangs over deep red décor and dining areas to the sides at which business folk, jet-setters and rich tourists chat away as they sip green tea, cocktails and Champagne’
There are also two big sinks opposite each other, a rain shower and a loo, which probably has more computing power than a 1970s spaceship.
There are buttons for opening and closing the lid, a massage function, spray options, a drying button, deodorising capabilities and the seat is heated.
There’s also a TV in the wall. The Japanese do love their tech.
There are more buttons to play with in the bedroom, with control panels on each side of the bed for the air conditioning, opening the curtains and controlling the lights.
Ted’s room is elegant and zen-like, with a TV hidden behind a sliding wooden panel and a rough-hewn wooden door that closes off the room
Attention to detail: Surely no bedroom is complete without nail-drying facilities?
The lights have been masterfully engineered.
There are multiple ‘mood’ levels you can switch them to, with the dimmest bathing the room in a most relaxing glow via subtle spotlights and bedside lights.
Thoughtfully there are also UK plug points on the desk.
But let’s take a moment to appreciate the beauty of the room. It’s really so elegant.
The TV has been hidden behind a sliding wooden panel and there’s a sliding rough-hewn wooden door that closes off the room. It lends the space an earthy vibe.
On the ceiling, meanwhile, is a large traditional ryokan-style piece of wood.
The hotel’s reception desk speaks volumes – signalling to guests that they’re in a hotel with impeccable standards
10 MUST-SEE PLACES IN JAPAN – BY LONELY PLANET
Kyoto is home to more than a thousand temples and shrines. Take your pick from the monumental (Kinkaku-ji, a pavilion sheathed entirely in gold leaf), the more subtle (the simple beauty of Shōren-in, made of unadorned wood), the meditative (Ryōan-ji, with its stark Zen rock garden), and the ones requiring a little effort (e.g the walk up through endless arcades of vermilion shrine gates at Fushimi Inari-Taisha).
For modern architecture (such as the award-winning designs that line the boulevard Omote-sandō), endless shopping (Harajuku and Ginza), and standout cuisine and nightlife.
3. The Great Buddha (Daibutsu) in Nara
The Daibutsu is among the largest gilt-bronze effigies in the world and the temple that houses it, Tōdai-ji, is among the world’s largest wooden structures. The surrounding park (Nara-kōen) is dotted with other temples.
4. Hiroshima (with a side trip to island Miyajima)
An attractive modern city with leafy boulevards and great food, Hiroshima is home to the heartbreaking Peace Memorial Museum documenting the tragedy of the atomic bomb. Hiroshima is also a short train and ferry ride away from beautiful island Miyajima (a typical day trip from the city), famous for the ‘floating’ shrine gate of World Heritage Itsukushima-jinja (and a load of roaming deer).
5. Mt Fuji
Among Japan’s most revered and timeless attractions. You can climb it (in season), or just admire it from the nearby Fuji Five Lakes district.
A rural island in the Inland Sea and now a world-class centre for contemporary art. Many of Japan’s most lauded architects have contributed structures, including museums, a boutique hotel and even a bathhouse. Surrounding islands, such as Teshima, have also become sites for contemporary art installations and museums.
7. Northern Japan Alps
Dramatic mountain scenery and hiking opportunities, plus onsen ryokan (traditional hot-spring inns), rotemburo (outdoor baths), and some of the country’s best skiing. Kamikōchi is a highlight and main centre of this region.
8. Himeji-jo (Himeji Castle)
If you’re only able to see one castle, this is the one to aim for. Himeji – the ‘White Egret Castle’ – is one of the country’s few original surviving castles (most others are reconstructions), is the most revered, and is newly reopened after extensive restoration work.
Japan’s northernmost island is a largely untamed, highly volcanic landscape of massive mountains pock-marked with crystal-blue caldera lakes and opalescent, sulphur-rich hot springs. Great for wide-open spaces and road-tripping and now more accessible than ever with the bullet train linking the island with Tokyo.
10. The Southwest Islands (for beaches and forests)
These islands extend some 1,000km southwest of the island of Kyūshū towards Taiwan and tend to be off the usual tourist trail. Some, such as the Kerama Islands, are known for their palm-fringed beaches of sugar-white sand and turquoise waters. Others, like Yakushima and remote Iriomote-jima, are covered in primeval forest – some of the last virgin forest left in Japan.
Visit Lonely Planet for more.
There’s a plush sofa in front of the TV and a small table for two by one of two big windows, so you can eat while gazing out at the incredible skyscrapers.
In Tokyo gazing at incredible skyscrapers is mandatory.
The bed is incredibly hard to escape from, incidentally, because management have equipped it with the comfiest mattresses and pillows known to humanity.
(I need to find out where I can buy the pillows.)
Add a dash of Japanese impressionist art on the walls and you have what I would call a world-class hotel room.
And the surprise? This is the hotel’s most basic room.
I’m staying at The Peninsula Tokyo, where stunning refinement, it seems, comes as standard for every guest (though it comes at a price, with the cheapest room being £450).
The Peninsula Tokyo’s bar at its Peter restaurant on the top floor is a symphony of dark woods and fantastical artificial trees
Irresistible: A 20-metre (65ft) swimming pool offers views of the Imperial Palace Gardens from the sixth floor
Those with deep pockets might like to book the Peninsula Suite, which has incredible views of the Imperial Palace
The Peninsula Tokyo, left, is located in the city’s smart-looking Marunouchi business district. The picture on the right shows a valet box in one of the rooms. Guests can place laundry and shoes in these for cleaning. And it’s where morning newspapers arrive
Ted ate at the swanky Peter restaurant up at the top of the hotel on the 24th floor
Deluxe rooms from JPY 63,000 (£450) per room, per night. To book visit www.peninsula.com/tokyo.
Finnair flies from London Heathrow, Manchester and Edinburgh to Tokyo Narita, via Helsinki, with fares from £675 in economy class and £2,500 in business class return. To book go to www.finnair.com or call +44 208 001 01 01 for more information.
InsideJapan Tours tailors itineraries for Japan trips to suit all interests, time frames and budgets. Visit InsideJapanTours.com or call 0117 370 9730.
Try the efficient Airportr luggage assistance service if you don’t fancy lugging your cases to the airport. Visit airportr.com for more.
I’d heard that Peninsula hotels were pretty special, and this one – located in the Marunouchi business district, near the Imperial Palace – is living up to the hype.
Stepping into the lobby is like stepping into a movie. It has a permanent air of muted excitement.
A huge statement chandelier formed from dozens of dangling light bulbs hangs over deep red décor and dining areas to the sides at which business folk, jet-setters and rich tourists chat away as they sip green tea, cocktails and Champagne.
Staff hurry from table to table with a practised ease, ensuring that no one waits longer than mere seconds to be served.
At the back is an elegant curved sculpture itching to be the backdrop to a James Bond film.
It’s a great place to people watch.
Another superb space is the swanky Peter restaurant up at the top of the hotel on the 24th floor.
We gaze out from a corner table here one evening at the glittering skyscrapers surrounding the Imperial Palace gardens nearby, emitting sighs of contentment between mouthfuls of the tenderest beef we’ve ever tasted.
And in the morning we dip in the huge sixth-floor pool, where traditional Japanese music is wafted under the water.
We’d flown to Tokyo business class with Finnair and the Peninsula, our first stop on a two-week trip, is keeping the dream going in style.
Take a bow.
WHY FINNAIR’S BUSINESS CLASS IS THE BUSINESS
What first? A play with the massage function on the seat or another sip of Champagne by Nicolas Feuillatte?
Flying business class with Finnair presents passengers with several quandaries, the aforementioned choice being the most immediate when I board.
We fly from London to Helsinki then on to Tokyo on board an Airbus A330 (and take a bullet train to Kyoto). Initially I’m a tad disappointed that it’s not the airline’s rather splendid new A350, but once I settle in, I’m impressed.
Flying business class with Finnair is a real treat
I’m able to manoeuvre my body to all manner of angles using a control panel on my armrest. The back of the seat and footrest can both be moved separately if desired and the seat goes completely flat for sleeping purposes.
I manage to get a solid few hours and I find sleeping on planes very difficult, almost impossible, normally.
The fact that there’s plenty of room for the legs and feet helps – it makes turning over mid-slumber something that won’t disturb.
Several other aspects of the product impress, too.
The food is very good indeed – the choices for dinner include minced pike cake with cold smoked pike, potatoes, horse-radish and egg; roasted omega-3 pork rib, parsnip and apple or pan fried beef with miso flavoured sauce and miso soup. I have the beef and it’s excellent.
There’s even an amuse bouche beforehand of smoked whitefish mousse and rye chips.
The wine is top, too. The choice includes a Chateau De Come French red, Villa Maria New Zealand riesling and a Chateau De Rochemorin sauvignon blanc.
These aren’t run-of-the-mill quaffing options, mark my words.
And to top it all off – the headphones you’re supplied with will keep even fussy audiophiles content (I know, because I am one) and there’s a cute (bespoke) Marimekko toiletries bag, too.
As for the earlier quandaries? Obviously I did both at once.