Andaz is a Hindi word which translates as style, particularly a personal style. So ANdAZ was the choice of Hyatt Hotels when it launched its new luxury boutique brand in April 2007 with the opening of ANdAZ Liverpool Street in London. Arnaud de St. Exupery was general manager there when we first met him and he has moved to Tokyo to handle the opening of another in Hyatt’s rapidly growing portfolio of exquisite hotels. Arnaud is himself everything you expect of a stylish, sophisticated, urbane Frenchman who has previously managed Park Hyatt Vendôme in Paris, so we had great expectations when we had the chance to inspect his latest baby on our recent visit to Tokyo. We were blown away. It’s not a “typo” by the way. The branding, all capitals except for that lower case d in the middle, tells you to expect something different. Look at the details.
There is something of a fashion in hotel design to put the entrance at the wrong end of the building. ANdAZ Tokyo follows this new convention. As you enter the vestibule at ground level having alighted from your limo (or taxi) you’ll pass a line of hosts where you’ll find it hard to hang onto your luggage. Everyone is incredibly polite and welcoming. Then you waft down a cool, dark corridor at the end of which the elevators whisk you up to the fifty first floor of The Toranomon Hills Tower. You’ll be intrigued by the sculptures of shoals of fish adorning the elevators as you forget how far you’ve travelled. Putting the reception floor above the guest room levels may increase security but it certainly maximises the “wow factor” when you enter and first see the view. Toranomon Hills is in one of the oldest and most prestigious districts in Tokyo between the Imperial Palace and Tokyo Tower and ANdAZ occupies the 47th to 52nd floors, with Spa and leisure facilities at AO Club on the 37th. The views from AO Spa are simply stunning. Even better are the personalised treatments. Fresh herbs grow on the consultation table in reception. After discussion of your aims, your therapist picks some leaves and grinds them in front of you. These are then added to your footbath which precedes the massage. Simply delightful and unique in my experience.
The lounge at the entry level is a meeting and relaxing place. Somewhere to work, to play or just to people watch. For two hours in the early evening there are complimentary drinks and snacks here for all guests so it tends to get a little lively. There are some nice snug little booths where you can hide or talk discreetly or some long wooden tables for socialising. It’s very atmospheric in the evening. The use of irregular heavy wooden table tops is a Tony Chi signature. He has designed many of our favourite hotel interiors. So in the guestrooms you will also find plentiful use of that natural material, for example the bedside tables and washstands. There is also a nod to traditional paper-walled country houses in the white panelled guestroom walls. The overall effect is stylish, modern and identifiably japanese.
The guestrooms are all large by Tokyo standards, ranging from 50 sqm to the 125 sqm ANdAZ suites. Try to get one of the ANdAZ large king rooms. All located in the corners, they are very comfortable at 65 sqm and the views are panoramic. Every modern convenience has been provided, there is a spectacular rain shower as well as a deep circular soaking tub, the curtains, blinds and lights can all be controlled from the bedside console and there is a large desk with two chairs so no need to fight over who gets to sit and pretend to work whilst admiring the view.
Service during our two night stay was absolutely flawless. It’s very rare that I can say that and it has certainly not been so at many much more vaunted establishments. We enjoyed breakfast at the ANdAZ more than at any other hotel in Japan so far – there was plenty of fresh fruit, service was very good and there was a wide range of main dishes, including many we haven’t seen elsewhere, including nutella-filled brioche and baked scrambled eggs with cherry tomatoes and goat’s cheese. We were also delighted to be offered room service breakfast at no extra charge due to our early check-out from the hotel on our departure day.
For evening delights, the hotel offers a wide range including an 8 seat sushi restaurant on the roof terrace (make sure to book in advance), ANdAZ Tavern on the 51st floor offering all-day European-style dining with a Japanese twist, the casual Bebu restaurant offering simple snacks and grill items, the pastry shop with its éclair, cookie and chocolate menu and, lastly, the rooftop bar with its summer picnic menu and breathtaking views from the 52nd floor.
ANdAZ is also very well located a short walk or taxi hop from Ginza, one of the main shopping areas. The side streets are filled with restaurants and bars and there are numerous subway stations with connections to everywhere within walking distance. Tokyo though is vast. Simply overwhelming if you’re not familiar with it. With two major international airports within forty minutes by the incredibly efficient train system, it was recently rated the safest city in the world with its pedestrian friendly walkways and low crime rate. That it is simultaneously rated the riskiest city on account of the ever-present risk of earthquake and the likelihood of very high casualties if and when it next happens tells you a lot about Tokyo. The Greater Tokyo Area is the most populous place on Earth. Shinjuku Station is the busiest railway station with over a hundred exits, all of them the wrong one. It is an extremely polite city. Taxi drivers drive old model Toyota Crowns and wear white gloves. The ground crew stand at the edge of the taxiway and bow to your departing plane. Yet everywhere are neon signs, Pachinko halls, everybody has a smartphone which they use constantly. City of contrasts and contradictions.
If you are here for business good luck, you probably have to be here so make the most of it. There are fabulous eateries of every kind great and small. We prefer the small “real Japanese” Yakitori and fish restaurants where no English is spoken. Sitting watching the grey suit clad salarymen (and increasingly women) through a thick blue fug of cigarette smoke as they draw on their Biru late into the evening after a long day at the office is a favourite pastime. Your choice of hotel may come down to corporate policy but try to persuade the travel bookers to let you have The ANdAZ at Toranomon hills. You won’t regret it.
If you’re here for leisure, the choice is simply bewildering but the views of Tokyo Bay from ANdAZ are inspiring. There is a newly opened rooftop sushi bar to go with the jazz bar which was here from the off. It is hard to think of a better place in Tokyo to spend the evening and yes I’ve tried the New York Bar and Grill at Park Hyatt Tokyo. Speak it softly but the views are better and so is the service at ANdAZ.
Review by my friend Andrew Price at Driven2Travel.
Disclosure: Our property, service and product reviews are sponsored by the proprietor or brand being appraised. All opinions remain our own and are in no way influenced by the sponsor.