Tokyo is not a cheap holiday destination so the dilemma of many families wishing to visit this Asian metropolis is how to combine a comfortable and quality trip with the kids with a reasonable price tag. And here, Oakwood Hotels and Apartments, which is expanding at a breathless rate across Japan, seems to have found the perfect formula.
Nowhere is this more evident than in the Oakwood Hotel and Apartments Azabu Tokyo, a modern and yet reasonably priced complex that opened just earlier this year. It ticks off all the boxes for family travel, especially for those who wish to stay in a home setting — functional kitchen and washing machine facilities needed — rather than in a standard hotel room. At the same time, these families are not quite ready to opt for the do-it-yourself route offered by apartments or homes privately listed online, so Oakwood serviced apartments are a logical choice.
WHY CHOOSE OAKWOOD
As one regular Oakwood guest who travels with his small children explained to me: “We need a place with enough space, and one with a kitchen so we don’t have to eat out all the time, so the choices are serviced apartments with hotel services or places on AirBNB.”
He continued: “The problem with renting someone’s private apartment is quality control. I’m always afraid of whether the owners have hired a college student to clean the place up instead of following a rigorous set of standards. It’s hit or miss here, whereas you always know that an Oakwood apartment anywhere in the world is going to be up to par.”
LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION
I had this in mind when I decided to check in for a staycation at the new property in Azabu which is so conveniently located across Nisshin Supermarket, the grocery of choice of expatriates in Tokyo as well as of the Imperial Household of Japan. I know the latter as fact because the royal seal of approval is proudly displayed at the entrance.
At the same time, it’s a short walk to the popular neighborhood of Azabu Juban and to the swanky Mori Hills complex. Azabu Juban is a wonderful area of traditional shops and restaurants juxtaposed with hip stores and bars, while Mori Hills is retail central for the city’s fashionistas and glamour crowd.
Most sightseeing spots are only a short taxi ride or train ride away too. The Azabu Juban subway station is a three minute walk.
In a city that favors minimalist aesthetics, the Oakwood Hotel & Apartments Azabu Tokyo fits right in too without coming across as cold and severe. I once stayed in one of Tokyo’s newly renovated top luxury hotels for three days, for instance, and not once did I find a corner I could photograph for Instagram.
This hotel is not like that. The building itself is quite an artsy structure compared to the typical 1990s buildings around it, and it’s lit up ever so beautifully at night. Even from outside, when you see it, you just know that it’s the kind of place that can offer you a nice life.
The lobby, too, has a Scandinavian retro design feel, reminding me of the iconic Radisson Hotel in Copenhagen, widely recognized as the world’s first design hotel. Modern Iines, warm colors, comfortable furniture, vintage lights and plants. Yes, plants. And that’s a very nice touch in my opinion.
WHAT THE THREE-BEDROOM APARTMENT LOOKS LIKE
We checked into the three-bedroom apartment, which is probably going to be the most sought after unit in this property when Japan’s borders finally open again. It’s a spacious corner unit with large terraces that give you an amazing view of Tokyo Tower.
The master bedroom is large and it’s got a Serta bed. The ensuite bathroom too is huge by hotel room standards and so nicely designed with two sinks, a separate bathtub and shower set-up and good lighting — so you know instantly that the parents are going to be very comfortable here.
It also has two small bedrooms that share a smaller bathroom just off the living room. These ones are small but they’ve got everything you could need: a nice bed, a desk with a lamp, and a wardrobe. The kids will be happy.
A KITCHEN YOU WILL LOVE TO COOK IN
The kitchen is part of the open plan living room. It’s a double counter set-up which amazed me because the designers had thought of everything. So it’s fully functional for cooking anything — whether it’s just breakfast or it’s a proper five-course dinner with guests. There is nice living and dining area plus the unbeatable Tokyo Tower views from the terrace, after all. And with Nisshin Supermarket just across the street, it will be a crime not to do so.
The kitchen utensils in bright Marimekko type colors also give users a happy lift.
WHAT WE LOVED
The overall design is seamless and user-friendly. We checked in for one night and by the next morning, we were thinking: “Wow, we can live here.”
The kitchen is also perfectly appointed with the kind of appliances and utensils that will make you consider cancelling your reservations at a yakiniku restaurant you found on TripAdvisor.com and just eating in.
THE NICE TOUCH
We loved the welcome basket filled with goodies for that first breakfast. Ours had healthy options like yoghurt, wheat bread, fruit and salad. It’ll be so appreciated by guests checking in late, and it literally comes in a basket. After that first morning, however, you’re on your own so please go to the supermarket across the street.
Note; Welcome packages may only be available to guests who check into specific rooms or serviced apartments or at specific rates.
WHO SHOULD CHECK IN HERE
The Oakwood Hotel & Apartments Azabu Tokyo is mainly geared towards hip couples and singles who want a taste of stylish Tokyo without breaking the bank. However the three bedroom apartment is just perfect for families looking for a “home away from home” in Tokyo — whether it’s for a weekend or a month. It’s not in the tourist area but convenient enough to it. More importantly, it’s a short walk from one of Japan’s best residential areas. So, yes, do go ahead and feel at home. You’re literally in the right place.