THE PRINCE GALLERY, The Newest 5 star Hotel in Tokyo
The first Luxury Collection hotel to open in Tokyo is an exquisitely designed hideaway in the upscale Kioicho district, a premier address steeped in the history of the Tokugawas and just minutes on foot from the vibrant entertainments of Akasaka. The 250-room Prince Gallery Tokyo Kioicho occupies the top seven floors of a 36-story tower, offering iconic city views from every angle along with exquisitely curated artwork.
The prestigious past of the location is evident in its name. The “Ki,” “o,” and “i” of Kioicho were taken from the Kii, Owari, and Ii families whose Edo-period (1603−1867) residences were located here. The latter two were elite branches of the Tokugawa line, the third a longtime ally of the Tokugawas in western Japan. Following the Meiji restoration, imperial households have been maintained in this neighborhood. The former residence of Yi Un (1897–1970), the last crown prince of Korea, stands adjacent to the hotel tower and has been faithfully restored to its original 1930 glory to accommodate the Prince Gallery’s banquet and wedding functions as the Akasaka Prince Classic House. The garden of this cultural asset, as well, is available for outdoor events.
The leafy neighborhood and surrounding area are home to the National Diet and apartments for its elected representatives, the official residence of the prime minister, and the Akasaka estate where Japan’s crown prince and princess and other members of the imperial family reside. The office floors of the tower house the headquarters of Yahoo Japan, while the first through fourth levels feature shops, restaurants, cafés, and clinics. From the guest rooms and public spaces of the hotel, the views sweep westward to the Togu Palace and Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden, southward to Tokyo Tower and Rainbow Bridge, northward to the highrises of Ikebukuro and eastward to the Imperial Palace and Tokyo Skytree.
The dining and drinking delights on offer at the hotel match its superlative surroundings. On the topmost floor is Oasis Garden, an all-day dining venue conceived as a restful glen in the sky, with design elements that evoke fragrant forests and herb gardens. Buffet-style breakfasts, housemade pastas, and succulent grilled fare feature here along with the kaleidoscopic views. At Souten, the signature Japanese restaurant, a crystalline motif of ice is realized in objets d’art hung from the ceiling and at the sake bar, where a fine collection of shochu can be tasted as well. There are teppanyaki grills and sushi counters for savoring those cuisines, and the legendary foie gras sandwich from “Top of Akasaka,” the cocktail lounge that crowned the original Akasaka Prince Hotel that once stood on this site, has been revived. Hungarian foie gras is lightly grilled and served on toasted pain de campagne with a filet of seared wagyu beef, the whole drizzled with fond de veau sauce and topped with shaved truffle. The two bars in the hotel tower, illumiid and Levita, offer quiet and lively scenes respectively—one appointed in rich leathers and complete with a cigar salon, the other with plush gold sofas and sparkling views from a nine-meter window flanked on either side by a glass waterfall installation. Both scenes are cinematic. In the Akasaka Prince Classic House annex, Bar Napoleon brings back the same atmosphere and classic cocktails (including the award-winning “Golden Pride”) that have drawn Tokyo’s movers and shakers since the original Akasaka Prince opened in 1955. Also here is La Maison Kioi, serving afternoon tea and casual French fare for lunch and dinner in an elegant setting once used by Prince Yi as a sunroom. Its Jacobean-style wall paneling and parquet wood floors are just as they were in 1930. A pastry counter offers macarons by the acclaimed Sadaharu Aoki and the hotel’s own chocolate and coffee éclairs, among other tantalizing confections.
References to nature and allusions to levitation appear throughout the Prince Gallery’s spaces, and in its superbly curated artwork by dozens of Japanese artists. The refined design program by Rockwell Group Madrid melds the sweeping views with the interiors, heightening the uplifted sense of being in a showcase for fine art. Even the reception desks and sofas appear to float in the air, a trick of their resting atop mirrored bases. Bright splashes of orange amid classic browns and blues bring a sense of fun and warmth to the spaces, echoing the welcoming fireplace in the main reception area.
The first hint of nature and levitation appears in the second-floor entrance, in a sculpture by Nagano-born Atsushi Hosoi. Evocative of clouds and wind, the work seems to lift from the wall to float freely in space. A companion piece appears in the 36th floor elevator lobby, linking guests’ comings and goings. In the main reception area, textured works in ceramic, porcelain, and metal by Asaho Kamiya of Aichi and Takenobu Igarashi of Hokkaido evoke still more wind and garden themes. The dining and drinking venues are filled with art as well, from brushwork, oil paintings and a three-dimensional textile sculpture to works in gold and other kinds of metal leaf that shimmer and shift depending on one’s angle of view. Particularly striking is the lighted glass waterfall installation by Yokohama native Mari Noguchi that frames the Levita bar and its nine-meter-high view of the city far below. Art mavens will also want to explore the seven guest-room floors, where works by many more artists from throughout Japan are featured in the corridors and elevator niches. Outdoors around the tower, a number of large-scale sculptures commissioned to link themes of “time,” “people,” and “nature” dot plazas where water, sky, flowers, and greenery are showcased.
Amid the location’s prevailing sense of history, the 250 guest rooms and suites are oases of modern elegance. Daybeds anchor the windows, inviting guests to stretch out and steep in the spectacular views. Every room is equipped with a tablet that enables, in eight different languages, fingertip control of lighting, temperature, and even the curtains as well as providing immediate connection with staff for room service, concierge, and other requests. Lighting controls on the wall, too, are sleek one-touch panels. Carefully selected books in all rooms range from classic Japanese literature to the arts, culture, and travel destinations of Japan, and smartly designed black and red yukata robes are provided for lounging. The bodycare amenities are by the luxury label Laboratoire Remède, developed by a team of French and Swiss chemists.
The Kioi spa and fitness center, operated by the Montreux-based Swiss Perfection, offers an indoor pool, sauna, personal training, and pampering spa treatments some 140 meters above the city streets. Training wear, footgear, and swimsuits are provided free of charge.
The Prince Gallery Tokyo Kioicho is part of Tokyo Garden Terrace, a dynamic mixed-use development comprising retail, residential, and conference facilities. Akasaka-mitsuke Station, one minute away on foot, is served by the Tokyo Metro Ginza and Marunouchi lines for easy, non-stop access to other popular areas around the city including Ginza, Shinjuku, Shibuya, Ueno, Asakusa, and Ikebukuro. Equally accessible is Nagatacho Station, serviced by the Nanboku, Hanzomon, and Yurakucho subway lines.
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