So much has happened since the gal last stayed at the unique AMAN Tokyo. When it opened in December 2014 this was luxury through one-off architecture and design, the first Aman to have elevators (necessary since the property starts on the 33rd floor of Otemachi Tower), the only hotel anywhere to have a lobby that is a rectangular football field size, soaring up through three floors to a flat-topped upper level of washi paper. This was designer Kerry Hill taking the use of stunning stone, woods and light to extremes, even for him – look out of your windows at the night sky, somehow part of the whole picture. Now, however, this incredible stage set has soul, as though a theatre which now has continuous performance.
The lobby area seems to hold at least a hundred onlookers, guests, networkers from early morning on. The only requirement appears to be to keep voices low, and to wear black, or a sombre colour – when I was there the only bright fashion was a toddler in a yellow skirt that matched the ten foot-high flowers that always rise magnificently from the black decorative pool in the centre of the lobby. Leading off the lobby are the Aman-required library, and meeting rooms and the main Restaurant by Aman. Wow, this has changed too. Under exuberant and highly-creative GM Mark Handl, a renowned foodie who also knows how to make money by getting the restaurant right, this all-day place is now, at lunch and dinner, exclusively Italian (for those who cannot get a table, opt for the black-themed afternoon tea in the lobby, or head down to the ground-floor café).
Mark Handl’s partner-in-crime, or rather success, is another through-and-through food man, Australian Gerard Eady who, after a couple of decades in Tokyo, understands the Japanese DNA (his wife is from here). With the help, too, of a Japanese chef, Masakazu Hiraki, who spent ten years cooking at the Baur in Venice this is genuine Italian. At lunch and dinner there are three set menus that the Japanese love, psychologically listed in a dark leather-covered ring binder, with the most expensive (¥19,000, plus 13% service) first. From the following à la carte, you might start with a highly-popular bijou caprese, with six cherry-sized Amela Rubins tomatoes around a circle of buffalo mozzarella. The best-selling pasta, available in two sizes, is trofie with porcini and black truffles, and, for secondo piatto, it has to be roasted Cinta Senese pork, from Siena, with Jerusalem artichoke, or, for two, a one-kilo Wagyu T-bone, from Kagoshima cows, served with garlic confit.
AMAN Tokyo has a partnership with Gaja, whose Ca’Marcanda Promis 2014 is the red wine-by-glass. This is, incidentally, a luxury lifestyle place which likes working with other names that its discerning Amanjunkies, and others, might enjoy. In my gorgeous suite 317 – see the video below – I had a pair of crinkly food-exercising half-balls, and two whole balls, rubber, the size of croquet balls. According to Yamuna Zake, the fitness guru who gives her name to these bits and pieces, you are supposed to sleep with the balls. I actually preferred to head along for a rejuvenating oxygen facial, which included Intraceuticals oxygen concentration with Hyaluronic acid technology, apparently to improve hydration and luminosity, and with that, and an excellent work-out in the Technogym, I felt even younger and more vital. Perhaps the Ca’Marcanda Promis helped. NOW SEE SUITE 317, BELOW