Story by Nick Ross and Manos Angelakis
Photos Manos Angelakis and courtesy Imperial Hotel
Imperial Hotel Tokyo
1-1, Uchisaiwai-cho 1-chome, Chiyoda-ku,
Tokyo 100-8558, Japan
New York Sales Office
1251 Avenue of the Americas, Suite 2375, New York, NY 10020 U.S.A.
Tel: 212-692-9001, 212-692-9002
Our visit to the Imperial Hotel occurred before the COVID pandemic. If you plan a stay there, check with you travel agent for possible closures or limited hours in some areas of the hotel, restaurants, executive floors etc.
The legendary grande dame of Tokyo, the Imperial Hotel, was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright and built as a low-rise building across the street from the park of the Imperial Palace, within walking distance of everything important in the city. The tower was built much later on. Currently, the rebuilt lobby lounge, designed by Japanese architect Takemi Nishimoto, acts as a living museum of Wright's elaborate original design.
There are both Occidental and Japanese style rooms in the hotel and impeccable attention to detail. The Frank Lloyd Wright Suite, features such museum-quality Wright creations as stained-glass windows, volcanic stone reliefs, and distinctive light fixtures. All 66 suites have been traditionally the favorites of statesmen, royalty and celebrities, offering free American breakfast through room service, free shoeshine and laundry services, a free newspaper of your choice and free WiFi, as well as complementary use of the fitness center, pool and sauna. The personalized services and a highly trained staff make it Tokyo's address of choice for numerous corporate executives. You can schedule airport transfers to and from the hotel with a chauffeur-driven limousine or a sight seeing drive with a foreign-language speaking driver -- check applicable prices in the hotel's web site https://www.imperialhotel.co.jp/e/tokyo/. It has one of the largest executive service centers amongst Japanese hotels, with complimentary meeting space and an amenity lounge for early arrivals or late departures. The extremely large ballrooms are suitable for trade shows, exhibits and large banquets.
The original Wright lobby entrance and part of the original garden are still standing in INUYAMA, Japan, Aichi Prefecture, about 25 min north of Nagoya. It’s the crowning jewel of Meiji Mura, a restored village from the Meiji Period. It’s well worth a visit.
The 13 restaurants on the premises are outstanding with Les Saisons serving French haute cuisine and La Brasserie traditional French dining, Nakata and Sushigen are for sushi, Kamon for teppanyaki open grill steaks, Imperial Viking Sal is the Imperial Hotel's buffet restaurant and Ten-ichi is for tempura, to name but just a few memorable ones. The Pâtisserie Gargantua and Épicerie Gargantua offer tempting pastries and a delicatessen with traditional classics, seasonal foods, and sustainable dishes conceived by Executive Chef, Yu Sugimoto.
The bouillabaisse that the chef of Les Saisons created for us when we returned from an extremely long and tiring day was the best I have ever had, perhaps with the exception of the one that my friend Monique whipped up at her villa in Beaulieu, near Nice. Another creation from the Imperial kitchens, which we have also adopted in our own home is the Smoked Salmon Napoleon with Sevruga or, when we're not flush Salmon Roe; many a guest has commented on that appetizer.
There is a traditional tea house on premises, in the midst of a very traditional garden, where one can participate in the Japanese tea ceremony, an unforgettable experience in ceremonially graceful movement. Unfortunately, the traditional seating is uncomfortable for many westerners.
Right behind the hotel is the International Arcade, where we made one of the most exciting finds of our trip, a shop selling exquisite embroidered wedding kimonos and obis as second hand clothing, at very low prices! A magnificent kimono of vibrant gold/red/green/silver cranes embroidered on a heavy white silk brocade now decorates our living room and a piece of silk obi with muted gold/red chrysanthemums and cranes, is used as a runner on the serving side-table in the dining room.
On the other side of the Arcade is the Ginza. In one of the sushi bars there, we encountered “jumping shrimp” which our Japanese host ordered for us and waited for our reaction. We ate it without batting an eyelash, an occurrence that, as I understand, is unusual for foreigners. We eat sushi wherever and whenever we can find the right kind of fresh fish; in the Ginza we just told the chef “Omakase” and left it to him to give us what was fresh and best. We were not disappointed.
The staff at the Imperial is impeccable. Highly trained, polite to foreigners (something that seems to be lacking in some of the other luxury hotels in this city), eager to fulfill the slightest request, punctual, discrete. It made our stay there a real pleasure.
© February 2022 LuxuryWeb Magazine. All rights reserved.
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