Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Japan's best hotel for 2015 is the Aman Tokyo in Otemachi. And about myown private office in Tokyo.


So this week, in Tokyo, living a #Travelife, I've literally been living at the Aman Tokyo, which is currently Japan's best hotel, hands down.

Yes, I've stayed everywhere in this country, and for 2015, Aman Tokyo is definitely the best hotel in the country. It's not cheap either, but you certainly get what you pay for in this case.



It's understated luxury and quiet service, although everyone is extremely friendly for a Tokyo hotel. As for the design, it's stark, severe and minimalist, though, so it's a very unique visual treat.

Don't expect the usual fancy trappings of a Western hotel.

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THE AMAN TOKYO SUITES
ARE LIKE MODERN APARTMENTS

And the suites are huge, which is why I say I'm "literally living at the Aman Tokyo."

The suites are more like apartments, with a palatial foyer and bathroom, a decent kitchenette and enough space even for a private office.



MY OWN PRIVATE OFFICE 
AT AMAN TOKYO

I love using this private office as this means I can assemble all my gadgets in one place, with proper chargers and all, and not create a mess elsewhere.

There's also a very nice workstation in the bedroom so you don't have to share electric outlets and workspace if you're sharing the room with someone.

That's always a minor problem, isn't it, when you're two people in a room and there are way more gadgets than there are people, even with room service in the room with breakfast.

And both of you always have to be on your Blackberrys. Or on Viber.


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NO NEED FOR DISTURBANCES
IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT

Then, if you wake up in the middle of the night and you want to check Facebook or write a blog, you can do so in your private office without disturbing anyone else, as this private office is just off the living room in the other wing of the suite.


How nice is that?

The other night, I didn't even open my computer. Instead I read the FT Weekend in my designated private office, and tried to think about a couple of decisions I have to make soon.

This set-up is certainly perfect for a never-ending, and never-endingly eventful #Travelife.

Read more about the Aman Tokyo 
in an upcoming issue 
of #Travelife Magazine.

No one travels like us.
Or writes like us.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

A really big house in Shibuya, Tokyo


So last Saturday, I had dinner with one of Tokyo's Masters of the Universe and we all had a very enjoyable time.

But here's the interesting thing.

We were at a bistro in our neighbourhood for dinner when he mentioned that he'd bought a piece of land in our same neighbourhood to build a house.

He has lots of houses all over the world, so this wasn't any particular news to me.

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CALIFORNIA IN TOKYO
VIA A PHOTO ON HIS IPHONE

But then he showed us a photo on his iPhone of a home he was planning to model his new project after.

This was when I thought that -- in spite of being a Big Fish -- he was actually exaggerating, as the photo on his phone looked like one of those big and beautiful villas in Santa Barbara that you might see featured in Architectural Digest.

A CALIFORNIA HOUSE
IN THE MIDDLE OF TOKYO

So, California, yes. Tokyo? You must be kidding. Size is always an issue here no matter how wealthy you are.

But after dinner at this small bistro, we decided to walk to a fancy French restaurant in our neighbourhood for champagne and dessert.

And on the way to this French restaurant for dessert, we walked past this piece of land he'd just bought.


PRIME LAND IN TOKYO

I hardly ever use swear words, but this time, absolutely nothing else would capture my feeling of surprise. 

When I recovered, I said to him: "You can fit a whole neighbourhood into this plot of land."

There we were in the priciest neighbourhood in the entire Japan, right in the middle of the city but completely residential that it's so quiet you can hear a pin drop, and Mr. Master of the Universe had just bought enough land to build an entire neighbourhood.


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A RHETORICAL QUESTION

"So you think it's a good buy?" He asked me.

Oh my goodness. I didn't even want to start computing the value of that land in one of the most expensive cities in the world.

But what impressed me even more was how he got it. Land of this size doesn't ever come on the market anymore, especially not in this very residential part of town.

And that's exactly what I told him.

IT'S NOT ALL ABOUT THE MONEY.
OR THE BRAINS.

And in typical condescending fashion for a Master of the Universe, he said: "Hmmm. You're smarter than I thought."

And just like that, another interesting day ended in my never-ending, and never-endingly eventful #Travelife.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Dinner with a Tokyo Master of the Universe at a French bistro and then desserts in the garden of one of Tokyo's fanciest restaurants.


So last night in Tokyo, living a #Travelife, we had dinner with my neighbours. The husband is one of these Masters of the Universe guys, and it was lots of fun, as always.

It's really a different and interesting world with these types, and my neighbourhood is full of them.

The Lyonnaise salad
at the French bistro last night

These Masters of the Universe think big, talk big and act big, so that some people might think they're being quite boastful -- when they're actually not.

For example, I've heard him discussing whether to put one waterfall or two waterfalls in a corner of one of his weekend houses in Japan, and whether the stereo speakers in this particular property should be extended all the way to the gate instead of just around the main house, guest houses and pools, so that you can hear George Michael on the CD, for instance, as soon as you drive through the gate.

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A STEREO SYSTEM
WIRED THROUGHOUT THE ESTATE

No kidding.

He has a massive estate by the beach, and you can hear the music he plays on a system so nicely that it's like you're in his living room, when you're actually having drinks and barbecue by one of the swimming pools.

In fact, you can hear the music from everywhere on the estate via state-of-the-art speakers, hidden underground with some fantastic technology. 

So you're walking through his private forest, and you can hear George Michael everywhere. It's all rather surreal, actually, especially when you realise you're in Japan, 45 minutes from Tokyo.

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And last night, his wife mentioned how she was thinking of putting out an IPO in Tokyo for her own very successful company; and in front of us, he'd said: "Why would you want to do that? We certainly don't need the money."

But in reality, they're not really trying to impress anyone because most people around them talk and act this same way in Tokyo.

DINNER AT A HOT BISTRO




Last night, we went to a very popular but inexpensive French bistro for dinner.

It's almost impossible to get a reservation here  and especially as we had decided to go at the very last minute, but he was able to swing a table for four at 6 PM.

That's very early of course, but it wasn't a big deal and we had a nice time.

DESSERTS IN THE GARDEN
OF ONE OF TOKYO'S FANCIEST FRENCH RESTAURANTS


And then, more characteristic of everyone at dinner last night, we then walked over to one of Tokyo's nicest French restaurants.

It's in a very old house with a lovely garden, and we all wish this house would be put up for sale as we would all be falling all over each other to get first dibs at it. 
It used to be an ambassador's home during the Taisho era and it's the only restaurant in central Tokyo with a garden of this significance. 

But right now and for many decades now, it's a Michelin-starred restaurant that's relatively under the radar with foreigners.

AN EXCELLENT 
UNDER-THE-RADAR FRENCH RESTAURANT
IN TOKYO



I've lived in this same neighbourhood ever since I can remember and it's been there since the very beginning.

Every time I go, the food is excellent so I don't know why it's not more on the radar of all these foodies visiting Japan from overseas, because it certainly is on the radar for us locals.

And the few times I've taken friends from Manila to this restaurant, they've loved it and they can't believe such a place exists in Tokyo.


HIS KITCHEN IN TOKYO


Well, last night, Mr. Master of the Universe decided that we should all go there for champagne, port, cheese and dessert after our cheap-ish bistro meal.

We were all in casual clothes and two of our party were even in shorts as it was already a cool summer kind of evening and we'd just gone to a bistro down the road from our neighborhood. 

Interestingly, this French restaurant is quite formal -- the type of place you'd go to for your 50th birthday or your 25th wedding anniversary -- so shorts are definitely out of place.

MASTER OF THIS RESTAURANT


It's also an incredibly snobby place as the Who's Who of Japan have been going there for generations; but as Mr. Master of the Universe considers this his kitchen, we went straight into the garden, shorts and all, and no one stopped us.

And as soon as we sat down, he started ordering the waiters around as if he'd hired them himself. 

He's probably their best customer anyway. Frankly, I don't think the rest of us could have sat in the garden in shorts and loafers just for dessert and drinks if Mr. Master of the Universe hadn't been around.

It was a beautiful night, and we had such a nice time in the garden of this fancy French restaurant, talking about Travel and Life, and living a never-ending, and never-endingly eventful #Travelife.