An exclusive sanctuary set high above the Japanese capital, Aman Tokyo combines the resort brand’s famed design and hospitality with world-class dining and spa facilities. Zaneta Cheng checks in, but will she ever leave?
The thing about most resorts is that they are built such that nobody really wants to leave. This is perhaps one of the more appropriate statements when it comes to Aman properties, which are typically secluded minimalist retreats built amidst remote mountains or occupying far-flung islands. So, what happens when such a retreat is brought to the financial district of the world’s largest city?
The first of the brand’s urban concept hotels, the 84-room Aman Tokyo is spread across levels 35 to 38 of The Otemachi Tower. Each room and suite looks out over the city with unobstructed views of the Imperial Palace Gardens on one side and the helipads on the tops of nearby buildings on the other. The ground- floor entrance is discreet, with a driveway for cars to pull in quietly and for bellboys to whisk luggage up to 33rd-floor lobby.
There, the lifts open to a long wooden table, which we are escorted past into the expansive lounge area. Above us, a washi-paper-clad light fixture soars 30m upwards mimicking a traditional Japanese shoji frame made from camphor wood. Oshibori (hand towels) and drinks are brought over as we provide our passports for check-in. The hall is long and along the floor-to-ceiling window are groups of men and women chatting over drinks at the bar, which is on the far side, or crowded around tea sets taking photos. It’s a busy lobby but the space is so well laid-out that each area is sequestered and each individual group can enjoy their privacy.
For one, you’d never know that behind the looming brown wooden walls are a boardroom and gift shop selling Aman’s house sake. There’s also a concierge tucked in the back to take care of any requests. On the same floor is the entrance to the famous Musashi by Aman, an Edomae sushi counter helmed by Musashi Hiroyuki and serving rice the chef has grown himself and ingredients that are sourced the same morning. Arva is the hotel’s Italian restaurant, serving breakfast in the morning and Italian-Japanese fusion in the afternoons and evenings.
First, I should mention that Arva houses a two-storey, glass-fronted wine cellar from which the sommelier brings us a host of Venetian wines. They pair perfectly with the food, my favourite being the uni (sea urchin) spaghetti laced with bottarga. The chef, I’m told, had been working in Venice for a decade before returning to his native Japan to create dishes for Arva. The menu is endless and after six incredible courses we make our way back up to the rooms.
Designed by the late Kerry Hill, Aman Tokyo’s interiors draw from traditional Japanese residences. My room is split into two levels, with the doors opening to a small area for shoes as per the Japanese way. Once inside, the closets, desk and bed are on one level before I walk down two steps into the sitting room overlooking the city. Washi paper sliding doors separate the warm woods of the room and the dark stone inlaid bathroom, which boasts its own ofuro (bathtub) with equally impressive city views.
There’s not much that one is left wanting. The food is delectable. The drinks are plentiful. A number of Tokyo’s social set can be seen sipping cocktails by the bar on a weekend. Snacks are placed in the room so guests have no need whatsoever to visit the many convenience stores outside.
Those that need to move can hop into the 30m heated pool or the well-equipped fitness centre on the 34th floor. There are yoga and Pilates classes in session when I walk past on my way to the 2,500sqm spa (the largest and most comprehensive hotel spa in Tokyo), where I’m booked in for a much-needed massage. Once there, I discover my therapist is trained not only in massage but also acupuncture so rather than a rote treatment, I’m given a short analysis on the state of my health. Too much stress in the gut and cold ankles, which I’m told is keeping me from optimum health.
At the end of the session, I’m presented with a plate of treats in a screened-off area right in front of the treatment room that overlooks the city. It’s raining heavily when I’m there and frankly, as I have my fifth Japanese strawberry and Aman chocolate, I feel absolutely no need to leave.
Perhaps the only place one might want to make their way out of Aman Tokyo for is the pastry shop in the basement of The Otemachi Tower. With glass panels that provide a view into the kitchen as the chefs go about their business, there’s nothing quite so enticing as a Japanese version of a classic sweet treat to take with you to the airport. Because I suppose at some point, against my better judgement, I will actually have to leave.