Do owners of luxury hotels pay enough attention to elevators? They are the public part of any operation that most guests use most frequently, and if you are trying to avoid the gaze of Madonna standing right opposite you, concentrate on the cabin’s interiors. Hyatt always does a good job with elevators – think the pressed leaves at Park Hyatt Zurich, and the faux library shelves at Andaz Amsterdam. At Andaz Tokyo Toranomon Hills, the cabin’s interior walls, behind glass, are washi paper overlaid with white plaster fish. This one is a tai, seabream, a celebration edible, apparently – and how suitable, as up on the hotel’s 52nd floor rooftop is the wedding chapel, with several convenient rooms for the party that follows.
Arnaud de Saint-Exupéry is suitably installed here as GM (his appointment is so appropriate as his great-uncle, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, is revered for his books, especially The Little Prince, which has a museum called after it in Hakone). He arrived from Andaz London Liverpool Street, where the elevator interiors have homilies reflected on the walls, 18 months before the June 2014 opening of this 164-room hotel. He showed me round with typical French flair, waxing quite lyrically over the beautiful AO Spa and Club, designed by Shinichiro Ogata/SIMPLICITY: it opens at eight on Sunday mornings as weekend overnights, locals who check in on the dot at three Saturday afternoon, and check out at noon, on the dot, on Sunday, want to maximise every minute.
Arrive at the spa and you are asked what is your spa style? Which is your favourite season, and do you prefer beach, city, countryside or another holiday venue? What is your goal? Do you want massage to release, uplift or unwind? What is your music style, Spring (fresh start, cut grass, bloom), Summer (reflected sunlight, amber glow, golden hay), Autumn falling leaves, gentle light, woodfire smoke) or Winter (inner warmth, pure stillness, cocoon). I liked the thought of The Bubbly, 90 minutes per couple for ¥55,000, for which you get a custom-blended self-application (do-it-yourself) scrub, a 30-minute Veuve Clicquot Champagne bath and a glass, each, to drink, followed by 30-minute massages and box of chocolates to take home. But I was by myself, so I went for an – excellent – Thëmaë facial, instead.
And then, back in lovely room 4717, a 500 sq ft starter facing Tokyo Tower, I had time to look around and admire the thoughtfulness. Tony Chi has designed all bedrooms and some of the public areas. This luxury hotel, he says, is the embodiment of life in the making. Not quite sure what he means by this but I do like his use of a wood, with a big slab for a real chairman’s size desk, and a lower open-L table for storage, and a wood surround for the single washbasin. It is varnished and varnished, I am told, so it will not stain). And, as so often in the Hyatt family, there is a combined wet area, here with a round bathtub next to the shower heads….