BiG Getaway: Tokyo Treasure
by Wan Zainal Abidin
With the launch of direct flights to Narita via Royal Brunei in 2019, Bruneians have been taking the opportunity to explore this beautiful metropolis capital of Japan, well known for its myriad offerings ranging from food to culture, set amongst busy shopping streets and contemporary architecture. I visited Tokyo earlier this year and had the pleasure of staying at the historical The Okura Tokyo. In 1962, the original Hotel Okura Tokyo Main opened as a first-class hotel that gained worldwide recognition for its blending of traditional Japanese beauty with the very best in accommodation, cuisine and service. It closed its doors in August 2015, and reopened as The Okura Tokyo in 2019.
The Okura Tokyo is the top-tier brand of the Hotel Okura group and offers luxurious accommodation options in two buildings on the spacious central Tokyo property, half of which is dedicated to showcasing beautiful landscaping and greenery. Located within their property is the Okura Garden – an urban oasis that captures the beauty of each season and incorporates the Japanese garden tradition or using rocks and raked sand to express water themes. Also within the grounds is The Okura Museum of Art, which was originally established in 1917 as Japan’s first privately operated art museum.
I stayed in the smaller of the two buildings, the Okura Heritage Wing, which is a 17-storey structure with refreshing views of the gardens, decorated with distinctly classical Japanese interior décor elements and at a spacious 60 square metres, boasts one of the largest standard rooms by Tokyo standards. The larger Okura Prestige Tower is a 41-storey structure offering rooms smaller in size but also accented with refined Japanese aesthetics. The hotel has recently enjoyed a whole new lease of life when it underwent extensive renovations upgrading its public areas and its 508 guestrooms and suites, all the while retaining the design of traditional Japanese beauty and cherished simplicity of its former hotel, which has welcomed guests from all over the world including celebrities and heads of state since its first opening. Legacy decorations from the original main building now adorn The Okura Toyko, and faithful reproductions of the distinctive hexagonal Okura lantern ceiling lights, lacquered tables and chairs, the world map and the clock displaying global time zones are featured in the new lobby of The Okura Prestige Tower, including the wall tapestry and shoji paper windows. Celebrated architect Yoshio Taniguchi, son of the original designer of the original Hotel Okura Tokyo famous lobby Yoshiro Taniguchi, was tasked to recreate these historical vignettes throughout the new property – a nod to the Okura legacy.
Much to the delight of many discerning Tokyoites, even the restaurants from the original hotel were recreated in the new property. The beloved Yamazato Japanese restaurant made its much awaited comeback, along with its renowned tea rooms together with the hotel’s reborn teppanyaki restaurant, Sazanka, and a sophisticated reinterpretation of the original Orchid Bar. I had the most delicious French Toasts for breakfast at Nouvelle Époque at the Heritage Wing – their signature restaurant that served French cuisine accented with Japanese seasonal ingredients. Additionally, there is an all-day dining restaurant, Orchid which serves an international array of dishes and Toh-Ka-Lin which offers delicious Chinese cuisine. To literally cap it all off, on top of the Okura Prestige Tower, Starlight offers guests three vantage points to enjoy the magnificent nightscapes of Tokyo from either The Bar, The Lounge of The Chef’s Place while indulging in the most delicious snacks, small plates, or just a nightcap.
Apart from sensational dining experiences, The Okura Prestige Tower offers unparalleled facilities to cater to business functions and social gatherings with no fewer than 19 rooms spanning a wide range of capacities. This includes one of Tokyo’s largest ballrooms, The Heian Room which accommodates up to 2,000 guests, making it the choice location for weddings and conferences. The hotel’s wedding facilities extend to include the top floor Sky Chapel which offers stunning views of Tokyo; the classically elegant Grand Chapel and a traditional hall for Japanese Shinto weddings.
For Okura denizens, the rebirth of the Okura Health Club, which earned a solid reputation for providing personal health care for over 40 years in the original property, is the feather in the cap of the reopening of this grand dame. In addition to the state-of-the-art workout equipment, there is the Annayake Spa– a French cosmetics and beauty brand that is dedicated to pampering guests with a variety of therapies, treatments and wellness programs. The spa made its debut to Japan on the 27th floor of the Prestige Tower.
The next best thing about staying The Okura Tokyo, apart from experiencing the luxurious hospitality of the Japanese brand, is to be able to sample nostalgic Hotel Okura Tokyo – bravely reincarnated and indistinguishable from the outside thanks to the many anodyne modern glass towers that dominate the bustling metropolis.
THE OKURA TOKYO
2 Chome-10-4 Toranomon
Minato City, Tokyo, Japan