Andaz Tokyo Toranomon Hills shows there is indeed a market for an edgy-luxury hotel in central Tokyo. This designer-building, a total interior vision conceptualised by Tony Chi – always better, says the gal, when he does restaurants rather than rooms – is not surprisingly extremely popular with three markets, roughly equal. There are Japanese, who book the 164-room completely every Saturday, from 3 p.m. until latest check-out at noon on Sunday (and others stay during the week, too). There are American tourists, understandably delighted to find such Japanese style and the generosity of free minibars, all day lobby snacks and evening wines. There is also rest-of-the-world business, appreciating the hotel’s efficient service and proximity to Toranomon business, be it Apple, Coca-Cola or Pony Canyon, with the Tokyo 2020 IOC headquarters thrown in for good measure.
This hotel stands out to me for its design, which includes the Nihon Sekkei structure soaring in all to 247-metres (52 floors, with, on the rooftop, a bar, sushi restaurant and wedding chapel). From all floors, I love the views, with spectacular sunrises and sunsets. The 400 team members, who can choose their own Masaru Mineo gear from a mix-and-match selection based on Japanese workers’ traditional garments, are charming. The Technogym is staffed from the early hour of five, but you can get in before then. The pool and AO spa are big draws. And oh, the eating and drinking here. As Japan’s long strawberry season gives way to sakura, cherry blossom, all this month there is special sakura afternoon tea, perhaps with sakura éclairs and Rosé Champagne. At all times there is evening sushi on the rooftop, day-long burgers or pastries down on the ground floor and, modern-international at Andaz Tavern – Grill & Lounge, on the 51st, lobby floor.
Designer Tony Chi is in his element on the 51st floor – see a video below, showing a walkthrough from lobby to bar to restaurant. At 6.30 a.m. precisely a screen-wall, reaching to the five-metre high ceiling, is pulled back. There, with all-wall windows beyond, is the enormous C-shaped bar counter, with real-flame fire already burning and the Yamaha ready to be played later in the day. Here, I might have a Japanese Fizz, with Roku gin, and Dover Sakura essence, and rosehip syrup, and a few other mixologists’ additions. Move right, to the 212-seat tavern, with plain wood-block tables set with utensils and no other distractions to take your eyes away from the charming servers, or the massive wood-swirl free-form mobiles, by a Londoner, Charlie Whinney, swirling overhead.
At dinner with New Zealand foodie Ross Cooper, GM of this luxury hotel, we trialled new chef Shaun Keenan’s menu, launching April. I started with an existing item, a small-size salad Niçoise, with one-bite tuna chunks and tiny quails’ eggs. and then we shared a Keenan special. His chateaubriand was ‘snow-aged’. Yes, this is really true. After a month of dry-ageing the Hokkaido F-1 beef, it is put in a Yukimuro snow cave in Niigata for 28 days, after which it reaches the hotel within 24 hours and is cooked within four days. Snow-ageing offers consistent low temperatures and high humidity, which avoids stressing the meat and retains moisture, and bring outs out sweetness. What did we drink? It had to be Cloudy Bay Te Wahi 2014 Pinot Noir Central Otago, in Riedel, of course (the help-yourself wines in the lobby were Torresella). We talked about business, and how every day the public areas here transition from seemingly-100% local young ladies spending lots of money to Cinderella (or cocktail) hour, when they leave, around sunset, and non-Japanese hotel guests become the majority. I asked Mr C about the Rugby World Cup taking place here late 2019. Surely he would be hosting the All Blacks? Ah, here we have a problem. Rugby teams want practice fields right near by and luxury hotels such as this simply do not have them. What can be done? The Hyatt family, and a New Zealand GM, will surely find a way. NOW WALK, FIRST THROUGH THE 51ST FLOOR LOBBY AND THEN THROUGH ROOM 4928