It's after dark when I reach the Tokyu Capitol Hotel, exhausted from a sweaty race around Narita airport to make the shuttle into the city. The hotel, a few minutes away from The Diet, Japan's parliament, is a peaceful shelter from the crowded chaos of a city populated by more than nine million people and even more visitors. The hotel is a showcase for some of the key attributes of Japanese culture: service, sophistication and discretion. A thicket of bamboo acts as a shield between the main road and the grounds and lantern lighting illuminates a pool of water. In the lobby, a woman wrapped in an elegant kimono welcomes guests strumming the strings of an ancient instrument, producing a sound that's a beautiful blend of harp and guitar.
Tokyu Capitol Hotel - Rooms
The seriously spacious rooms are contrary to the notions of a city known for pod hotels. Even the standard rooms are large by any measure. There are floor-to-ceiling windows in each room offering panoramic views and a map to pinpoint the landmarks - either including Japan’s Parliament: the Diet, the Imperial Palace, Mount Fuji or the 500-year old shrine next door and the greenery surrounding it.
The décor incorporates indigenous materials with slabs of dark stone, light-toned wood, and paper. Artwork provides a refreshing drop of colour amid the subtle neutrals throughout the hotel.
Few properties cater well to both business and leisure traveller. Generally, rooms for the former, no matter how soft the furnishings, end up with an overwhelmingly functional feeling, whereas the latter can often be impractical. Here, interiors are well designed for either guest. Indeed, increasingly, more of us are blurring the two as we factor playtime into work trips and vice versa. My room serves as a comfortable, calming and inspiring work environment as I sit stretched out on the chaise-lounge alongside the window, laptop perched on my knees atop a pillow.
Tokyu Capitol Hotel - Location
The hotel’s location in the centre of Tokyo’s downtown area, and near to the restaurants of Akasaka makes it easy to access, yet a comfortable distance from the bright lights and bustle. It is directly linked to a subway in the basement with a Seven-Eleven for changing currency or purchasing forgotten essentials. Once inside, traditional Japanese hospitality provides a soft landing from the metropolis. There is a 20m swimming pool and fitness centre spread over two floors, and in-room amenities include high-end toiletries accenting the culture, like cherry blossom-scented bath salts.
Tokyu Capitol Hotel - Dining
An on-site restaurant serves Japanese cuisine in a setting surrounded by a garden, with a short path for a mealtime stroll, if you’re among the VIP’s booked into one of the four private rooms. I’m told VVVIPS have been known to dine here and its proximity to the seats of power and the Prime Minister’s palace make it easy to understand why. A pastry boutique off the lobby area offers local specialties baked daily – some of them so fresh they must be consumed the same day. Thankfully, sizes are perfect for sharing.
The concierge provides extensive services, including plotting out restaurant reservations for guests, in advance of a stay, assistance navigating local restaurants with food allergies and other complicated requests.
The real benefit of this property is the authenticity. Unlike other 5-star hotels, that often provide a sanitized, generic kind of luxury, the Tokyu Capitol Hotel excels at delivering a superior service the Japanese way – from the visuals to the aesthetics, atmosphere, operations and execution. The hotel stay becomes an enhanced extension of a visit to Tokyo, rather than a utility.