Ritz-Carlton, Tokyo – Review
Even though a stay at the Ritz-Carlton property might lack a tiny bit of the personal touch that comes with a few of the other upscale, five star hotels in Tokyo, it's still a great place to spend a few nights. Having dinner at the Hinokizaka restaurant during sunset is spectacular, and the lobby and bar ambience is relaxed while still sporting stellar levels of service. And even though their »heat experience« pool falls short of my preferred onsen temperatures, spending a few moments there will get you relaxed in a heartbeat.
You will probably arrive by car or casually find your way through the Tokyo Midtown maze, end up at the main entrance and get sent right up to the 45th floor. Views from high up in one of the tallest buildings in Tokyo are pretty stunning and this particular lobby happens to be one of my all-time favorites – a perfect mix between spacious, inviting, casual and upscale. Always makes me feel right at home.
The front desk staff is friendly and efficient, though the entire experience is a tiny bit less personal than, say, the Park Hyatt equivalent over in Shinjuku. Any luggage will be sent straight to your room a few moments after you have settled in, guest rooms are on floors 47 and up, and the basic ones are rather large with all the features and amenities you would expect. No surprises there. The turndown service is on par with expectations too, with the nice touch of a weather forecast card being placed on your pillow.
The night time views really set the in-room experience apart, though. Unless you happen to be all dead inside, you will be absolutely mesmerized by the never ending cityscape with all its red, pulsing lights. I have been stuck hours on end just watching it all, mind drifting away. Just be sure not to get a room on the lower floor (no. 47 if memory serves me) – the otherwise spectacular view might be partly obscured by an offset edge protruding a few feet off of the building, and it does ruin the visual experience a bit.
Getting breakfast at the Towers Grill is a pretty good idea. Sure, it's expensive but then again, sipping on your morning cup of green tea while reading a decent newspaper and enjoying the stunning views of Tokyo is not a bad thing. Not at all.
And the Hinokizaka restaurant is a great option if you're into kaiseki style dinner setups. Should you be a party of two, request a window table and time the reservation to kick in half an hour or so before sunset. Believe me, you won't regret it. Once you're done with the meal, head back out into the lobby, get a few drinks and ask for today's cake selection. Great way to unwind.
This is one of the reasons I keep coming back. The usual indoor pool and fitness center are all decent but the separate »heat experience« section adds an extra layer of relaxation. It's a calm, tranquil environment allowing you to soak yourself in a hot tub while watching the Tokyo skyline from the 46th floor. The only downside is the water temperature – it's a few notches below proper onsen level, but you do turn into a relaxed and happy human being regardless. (Should you want the hotel equivalent of an onsen bath, by the way, try the Park Hyatt in Seoul.)
Check out the Midtown Garden and Hinokicho park, both right outside the Ritz-Carlton main entrance. Great place to catch a bit of fresh air while reading a book or a magazine. And speaking of magazines, you might want to head over to the Tsutaya/Starbucks combo in the south-east corner of the nearby Roppongi Hills complex. They are open all night, not closing until 4am, and will let you read any magazine you want for free while at their premises. Goes great with a caramel frappuchino.
And if you're up for a walk, head towards Omotesando through the back alleys of western Roppongi. A brisk 25 minute walk will get you all the way to Omotesando Hills.
Either have your cab driver drop you off at the main entrance or disembark at Roppongi station having travelled on either the Hibuya (H04) or Odeo (E23) subway line. If you do the subway thing, simply follow the signs towards Tokyo Midtown.