Sunday, January 29, 2012

A staycation at the Peninsula Tokyo. And about the new Aman Hotel and Palace Hotel.

We took one of these around Tokyo last weekend

Staying at the Peninsula Tokyo. And about the new Aman Hotel and Palace Hotel. For last weekend in Tokyo, we decided to book a staycation at the Peninsula Tokyo, one of Japan's best hotels and certainly my first choice for a quick R&R. There are two hotels in Tokyo I have proprietary feelings over, as I've been with them from the very beginning and for many milestones: the Park Hyatt Tokyo, which was probably the world's first truly modern hotel, and the Peninsula Tokyo. For both hotels, I attended the grand opening parties and I have also been part of many of their amazing events.

The Peninsula Tokyo's opening party was certainly one for the books. Guests had run of the house and you could go to any of the outlets and sample the best of what they had to offer, so all evening we went back and forth between Peter, Hei Fung Terrace, the ballroom and the different function rooms as there was something different in each one. It was literally one big party with music, food and merrymaking all night.

Peter, the signature restaurant of Pen Tokyo

Hei Fung Terrace

I've also been invited to some very fancy dinners at this hotel both on a grand scale and on an intimate scale.

One of the most enjoyable events I've been to at this hotel was a dinner for eight in the private dining room of the Peninsula Tokyo, which is definitely Tokyo's most beautiful private dining venue, arranged by general manager Malcolm Thompson. Patrice Martineau, chef of Peter, the Pen's flagship restaurant, had created a very special menu and a magician had come in sometime during dinner to mesmerize the guests.

The prettiest private dining venue in Tokyo

Meanwhile, over three years ago, I was also invited to a very formal and fancy dinner at the Pen, where I was seated next to Malcolm in his table. The general manager's table had been full of interesting personalities, but he'd very thoughtfully sat me next to B, who was then living in Tokyo as well but on the way to make the big move to Manila. This was how I met my friend B, with whom I have had so many fun times with in Manila.

The living room of Peninsula Tokyo's Park Suite

It's been a while since I'd stayed at this hotel so a staycation was long overdue. However, the last time I'd stayed here, I'd had a beautiful Park Suite with a living room that faced the Imperial Palace. This was just before I'd made my own big move from Tokyo to Manila, and it was so fitting an end to a pretty grand stay in Tokyo.


I stay in beautiful hotels all over the world so not too many hotels faze me, although I do appreciate a great hotel when I stay in one. But I have to say that my stay here was nice -- especially in the little details, which is what count a lot.

Much has already been written about the room amenities of this hotel. When it first opened, everyone was in awe with its game-changing room amenities. At a time when these were non-existent elsewhere, the Peninsula Tokyo had built-in nail dryers (yes, nail dryers and not hair dryers, although of course they also have hair dryers) and Lavazza coffee machines in the room.

Here's a photo of the built-in nail dryer in the dressing room.


But what I really appreciated on this stay is the way the room is really thoroughly planned out with intelligence. The switches are exactly where you need them, so you don't need to think twice and look all over the room for which switch goes where.

I stay in hotels half of my life, so I can tell you I'm always wishing for a switch or a button somewhere and I won't find it. And super high-tech hotels are quite the norm these days so I stay in one every few months; but it always takes me a day or two to figure out which button goes where as there's probably a logic to these but it's nothing outrightly obvious.

There's no need to sort out a puzzle at this hotel. Every switch is where you need it, and I've been here three nights now but I still have to find a switch that's superfluous.

Here, there's a privacy button in the dressing room and the bathroom (and even in the toilet!), for example, so that you can push it if you hear housekeeping knocking on the door. And you'll only really appreciate it when you're taking a shower and you hear the bell, and you realize you don't have to rush out in a towel just to tell housekeeping to come back later. And that happens to me a lot in other hotels, by the way.

And, yes, the dressing room and the bathroom are actually separate rooms from the bedroom, even in the regular rooms, and the bathroom is across the dressing room. So it makes everything neat and orderly. No clothes or bags in the bedroom, even if you're not staying in a suite!

Controls everywhere, including in the shower

There's also a temperature reader in the main room and also in the dressing room so you don't have to wonder how cold it is outside while you're choosing your clothes for the day.

There's a hands-free phone on the mirror in the bathroom so you can make calls or take calls while putting on your makeup or washing your face.

And the sound system in the room is just fantastic. I brought some DVDs to watch while vegging in the room and it's made movie-watching a simply fantastic experience.

So my home in Tokyo is about ten minutes away from the Peninsula Tokyo. But I can certainly imagine myself doing a staycation here every so often.




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