‘Who watches the watchers?’ has been a question asked since ancient times. In Tokyo, there is one answer. In the heart of the Chiyoda district sits the Imperial Palace, home of Japan’s rulers for over 400 years. The current palace is a postwar version, but original elements survive, including a 17th-century Edo watchtower just above the Imperial moat; the watchers of the watchtower are the guests of Palace Hotel Tokyo, just across the moat.
Of a more recent vintage than the watchtower, Palace Hotel Tokyo was rebuilt entirely from the ground up and reopened in 2012 as an imposing neighbour for the royal residence. As the anchor to a $1.2 billion mixed-use development project in the prestigious Marunouchi district, the hotel has 290 bedrooms, ten restaurants and bars — including the Michelin-starred Crown — and Japan’s only evian spa. The word at the heart of all this is omotenashi: the warm and welcoming embrace of guests.
With a heritage dating back to over half a century and having become a magnet for discerning jetsetters and titans of industry from the world over since its grand re-opening, the hotel has established an indisputable reputation as being one of the finest at showcasing the best of Japan – delivering an undiluted experience of a culture rooted in hospitality.
Throughout, a million-dollar art collection spotlights some of the country’s most promising talents while the hotel’s original series of ‘Palatial Pursuits’ evokes wanderlust and tempts the curious with offerings of bespoke art explorations, epic culinary adventures, behind-the-scenes glimpses of sumo wrestling and Kabuki, and insights into Japan’s unique culture.
The Michelin-starred French restaurant Crown is a collaboration with Patrick Henriroux, who operates the renowned two-star La Pyramide in Vienne, France. The original Palace Hotel’s Crown restaurant opened in 1964 spearheaded by chef Tokusaburo Tanaka and sommelier Katsumi Asada, who can be credited with fostering Japan’s fondness and appreciation for wine and French cuisine.
Today, Henriroux is regularly on hand to introduce the latest concepts from the contemporary French scene, as presented with Japanese aesthetics by chef de cuisine Manabu Ichizuka and his team.
If you prefer Japanese food in Japan, the hotel’s Wadakura restaurant — named for the Imperial moat outside its windows — pays tribute to the country’s cuisine in four distinct areas. At Sushi Kanesaka, Michelin-starred chef Shinji Kanesaka directs a team of the city’s most sophisticated celebrants of sushi.
In Tatsumi, a six-seat tempura bar presents some of the freshest seafood from the famous Tsukiji Fish Market in a wonderfully cosy alcove off the restaurant’s larger space. GO offers the finest Japanese beef at the restaurant’s two private teppanyaki grill areas, and in Wadakura’s main dining room, its seasonal kaiseki course menus are the most coveted by far.
To relax after those deliciously acquired calories, evian SPA TOKYO is the first evian®-branded spa in Japan. Occupying 1,200sq m of Alpine-inspired space on the fifth floor, it encompasses five treatment rooms, one spa suite and separate men’s and women’s relaxation lounges, with French savoir-faire and Asian therapies setting the stage for one of Tokyo’s most refined spa experiences.
Executive director and general manager Masaru Watanabe says that if you ever desire to leave the hotel, you’re in the best spot for some chic experiences: ‘Right outside our doorstep is Marunouchi Naka Dori, one of Tokyo’s most fashionable dining and shopping destinations, where brands such as Hermès, Comme des Garçons and Tiffany intermingle with the likes of Dean & Deluca, La Boutique de Joël Robuchon and a century-old teahouse. And just opposite are Japan’s picturesque Imperial Palace gardens and moats, which all of Palace Hotel Tokyo’s guestrooms overlook.
‘In addition, the world-famous Ginza shopping district is a mere stroll away, as is the iconic Tokyo Station — which almost anyone who has been to would attest is so much more than its name suggests. The labyrinth of shops and eateries that lie beneath Japan’s main rail hub is a destination in itself, presenting a microcosm of some of Japan’s most interesting offerings.’