One of the best hotel suites in Tokyo is not quite its largest nor its most luxurious. However it is definitely its most distinctive. Tucked away on the 14th floor of the prestigious Imperial Hotel Tokyo, which has long been an institution in the Japanese hospitality industry, is the Frank Lloyd Wright suite.
THE FRANK LLOYD WRIGHT CONNECTION
This suite was not created by Frank Lloyd Wright, the great architect. In fact most of the current Imperial Hotel was not created by him either. He created the original Imperial Hotel on the same site where the current one now stands, and the remnants of his wonderful masterpiece have been transported to the open-air Meiji Museum in Aichi Prefecture. For design and architecture enthusiasts, this museum is a must-visit, by the way.
Meanwhile, at the current Imperial Hotel, which has been around ever since I can remember and which is still the lodging of choice for many leaders of countries and other government officials when they are on official visits to Japan, only some blocks from the original Frank Lloyd Wright-designed hotel remain. You can see these in the lobby. There are also several blocks from the original building displayed by the driveway of the Tokyo American Club.
STATE VISITS VS. OFFICIAL VISITS
Now back to the difference in lodgings when a country’s leader is on a state visit or an official visit, for there is a world of difference in terms of protocol. If a president or a prime minister is on a state visit to Japan, you see, they get hosted by the Japanese government at the Akasaka State House — fondly referred to as Geihinkan.
Those leaders of countries who visit Japan but not on a state visit are free to choose a hotel they wish. Most do end up at the Imperial Hotel because of location, service and tradition. So many heads of states and luminaries have checked into this hotel that I am sure few general managers of this hotel know the exact number.
A SUITE ABOVE THE REST
There are many suites at the Imperial Hotel Tokyo, including one that is earmarked for presidents and another for cabinet ministers. However the truly special suite is Suit 1401, this Frank Lloyd Wright suite which was inspired the architect — down to the reading lights, the gadgets on the study desk, the dining room chairs, and even the bathroom fixtures. If you are a great fan of structured lines that meld beautifully and almost unnoticeable with the surroundings, then you must stay in this truly one of a kind suite. It’s probably the most seamless Frank Lloyd Wright-themed suite in the world.
Unfortunately this suite isn’t on the regular room inventory list of The Imperial Hotel Tokyo. You won’t be able to book it online. It is on a request basis and few guests are actually allowed to check-in to this one-of-a-kind suite.
ABOUT THE FRANK LLOYD WRIGHT SUITE
The Frank Lloyd Wright suite is a corner suite with a large vestibule, and a spacious living room and dining room separated by a Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired barrier. At the end of the dining room is a corner office with a large desk and a corner with a window and a comfortable reading chair designed in the — what else but — Frank Lloyd Wright style.
In keeping with Japanese sensibilities, the bedroom is spacious but not over the top whether in size or design. Everything is about flawless simplicity so as to not affect visual enjoyment. But indeed there is so much visual enjoyment here that one feels calm, comfortable and pampered all at once in the middle of one of the busiest districts of the one of the busiest cities in the world.
NO PARTIES HERE
I longed to stay here and plan a dinner party here, to show other lovers of design and architecture this most perfect Frank Lloyd Wright suite — one that is perhaps even more true than most of the surviving creations of the architect today. Alas, it is not to be. Aside from the stringent veto policy in place for prospective guests, the hotel discourages dinners or parties lest way too many people in the suite at one time leave scuff marks on this beautifully done suite.
So for now, I’m sharing photos of the amazing Frank Lloyd Wright suite so more people can see it, even if they won’t get to stay in it. Even the great architect would have been impressed.