Situated in the Toranomon district in Tokyo, near the Imperial Palace, the Andaz Tokyo is a perfect oasis for any leisure or business traveler visiting the city. The area is home to several corporate headquarters, including that of All Nippon Airways, one of Japan’s premier international airlines (which I am dying to try). The hotel is pretty much brand new, as it was opened less than a year earlier in June 2014. Continuing the trend of urban hotels, the Andaz is an intimate 168 room boutique hotel situated atop Tokyo’s second tallest high-rise. On our second night in Tokyo, my friend Ben and used my second award night from the Hyatt Visa Card signup bonus at this Category 6 (of 7) hotel, as a second night at The Park Hyatt was not available. Not a bad choice since this room was also going for $600+ a night.
Having just checked out of The Park Hyatt Tokyo, my friend Ben and I lugged our bags on foot, onto the expansive Tokyo Metro System, and made our way across town to the Toranomon stop on the Ginza Line. A short hike from the station, we once again arrived at the foot of our luxurious accommodations on foot. When we approach the porte cochere, we were politely redirected around the corner of the building to the pedestrian entrance… A little strange considering we were about 25 feet from the entrance if you were to arrive by car, and had to walk another 200 ft to get in the building – I guess rules are rules. At the pedestrian entrance, there was a nice little patisserie and coffee lounge filled with sweet-toothed Tokyoites. Without much direction or assistance, we had a bit of trouble finding the elevators to the sky lobby – a far cry from The Park Hyatt just the day before, where our bags were literally stripped from us upon arrival. Soon after, a staff member recognized our confusion, and kindly escorted us to the elevators and sent us on our way upwards.
Arriving on the 51st floor, we walked into a lobby with towering ceilings, no less than 20ft high – very impressive for a high-rise. As we made a left out of the elevators, into the lobby area, there is a concierge desk to the right, the lobby lounge straight head (with loads of natural light flowing through the curtain wall), and an open-air sectioned off area to the left where check-in occurs.
Again, like The Park Hyatt, there is no “front desk” but rather beautifully crafted communal-style wood tables with chairs. We were offered a seat and welcome beverages, and my passport and credit card were taken away to a back room to be processed. Before I had a chance to take another sip from my Coke, the assistant front office manager came by to welcome us to his property and distributed business cards, informing us to please contact his direct number should we have any requests. That wouldn’t be necessary on this stay, but was a nice gesture. As he finished his greetings, the agent came back with my passport, credit card, and room keys to escort us to our room. Having taken only one sip if my Coke, I took the can with me.
We were ushered into the guest elevators just off to the side of the check-in area, and actually made our way down to the guest floors. I suppose to support such high ceilings in the lobby, you shouldn’t stack another 8 floors of guest rooms and a pool on top.
Arriving on the 49th floor of the tower, we made a right out of the elevators and down the long iconic paper lined corridor. At the end, we made a left down a hallway wrapping around the building before finally reaching our room. With the accent lighting and wood finished, while the temperature was on the colder side, the hotel felt warmer than The Park Hyatt.
The hotel rep opened the door to our room, without asking us whether it was okay, and placed our bags in the closet area. We walked into the impressive foyer area and took it all in. The lights were already on, and the shades were up, again giving us a bright welcome to our home for the next day.
We thanked the hotel rep for his assistance and gave him nothing more than a wave goodbye, it was still really strange not being able to give gratuities for such friendly and professional service. As soon as he left, the cameras came out. The room was definitely more modern than The Park Hyatt, with some flashier amenities and decor – rightfully so as this was built less than a year earlier.
Prior to this stay, I had underestimated the power of the Bose Soundlink bluetooth speakers. But that little thing definitely packs a punch, and was much more than sufficient in helping us feel like rock starts in our new digs.
The bathroom and foyer area combined was much actually larger than the bedroom, and included a walk-in closet, large soaking tub, adjacent shower (with both handheld and rainforest shower), and a separate water closet with the friendly robo-toilet. I say friendly because this toilet actually opened its lid when you walked up to it! I need to get one of these when I buy my own place.
The remainder of that afternoon was spend exploring nearby Akihabara, or Electric Town, where the entire section of the city is devoted to electronics retail. In addition to electronics, Akihabara also hosts a plethora of anime shops, as well as porn shops. Its the most bizarre mishmash of retailers we have ever seen – and it pretty much solidified our assumption that in addition to the professionalism, artisanship, and friendliness that defines Japan and greater Tokyo, the other side of Tokyo is a society and domestic economy that is built on ones fantasies and darkest desires.
Having seen our fair share of neon, softcore porn, and incredibly sexualized and detailed anime models and action figures, we headed back towards the nearest Ginza Line stop, and made our way back to Toranomon. Over the course of 48 hours, we have actually become quite the masters of Tokyo’s Metro system.
Another benefit that is worth noting at the Andaz Tokyo, is that guests at the hotel are invited to a nightly cocktail service in the check-in area. Around 6pm every night (give or take an hour), complimentary sweets, hor dourves, wine and soft drinks are offered. The lobby actually becomes quite the social space.
After a quick drink, we headed back to the room to freshen up for another night out. Before heading out, we stopped by the Rooftop Bar to see if it was worth a drink and a view. While the view was nice, there was not much going on. There was actually a bit of a strange vibe as there were only a handful of couples there having quiet drinks and cuddling on the outdoor furniture. The space was pretty cool however, a large open air terrace 52 floors up overlooking Tokyo isn’t an easy feat to pull off. There was also function space up there, and it looked like a wedding had just happened earlier on in the day.
The next morning, we had another early start and decided to go and check out the pool at this property. We got our goggles and swim caps from the staff, and dove right in. Apparently, the pool and fitness center acts as a membership gym as well. It was certainly a lavish place to work out on a regular basis – not sure how the pricing works, but hey, someones paying it.
There was a medium sized – 20 meter – infinity lap pool with 3 lanes, as well as 2 hot water jacuzzis, and another large cold water jacuzzi with all sorts of jets. And oh, a view that will make you feel like you have a 7+ digit net worth. The changing room was also massive, with multiple showers and a large powder area with everything from deodorant, mouthwash, to razors, hairdryer, etc. (no photos unfortunately).
After a quick workout, we wandered out into the local streets of Toranomon before heading back to grab our bags and head out for Narita. While Narita is pretty far out from Tokyo proper, the “Friendly Airport Limousine” coach busses make it super easy and efficient to get there. They have buses that make rounds to each name brand hotel in the city, and as is normal for Japan, follow a very tight schedule to get you to the airport in time for your flight.
Having stayed here after a night at The Park Hyatt, the service and staff at The Park Hyatt definitely seemed to be more brushed up. Although the service was not lacking, it certainly was more informal. Again, that could just be a result of the brand and service style. The Andaz is certainly unique as a property, as it is modern and younger; but the quality of the furnishings also shows that it is not as upscale and detail oriented as The Park Hyatt across town. Wear and tear can certainly be seen on the tables and chairs in both the room and the lobby area. If a room at The Park Hyatt is not available, and you need to burn an award night, I would choose the Andaz – but would not go out of my way to stay here with cash if a room at TPH was available for around the same price. On another note, the complimentary happy hour was quite nice, and the fitness center certainly beat out The Park Hyatt. Regardless, it is one of the more impressive properties I have stayed at, there are just a few service details that should be ironed out to give guests a little more immediate attention upon arrival, as well as the hard product (room furnishings) upkeep.