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Tried & Tested: Reviews

staggering, looking towards the Imperial Palace and Mount Fuji (on a good day). There are cranes hovering in-between, but fear not, the skyscrapers they are in the throes of creating will not come close to this elevation. Around from here in the library are more time- zapping views and spaces in which to contemplate the meaning of life, the universe and where to go for dinner – the answers to which can all probably be found among the pages of the immaculately curated range of books and magazines. You could also mull things over in the Cigar Lounge. There are 84 rooms and suites and the journey to mine was broken by stopping along the hallway to look into “tokoniyoma”, or alcoves, used to display little artworks. My premier category room was a

Aman Tokyo, Japan

does urban; by presenting you with a 30 metre-high lobby that makes you feel like a miniature character inside a giant, luxurious lantern. There may be Amans in other

author: April Hutchinson

I may have been working in travel publishing for 18 years, but my sojourns had yet to take me to Japan. I finally got the chance to travel to this fascinating place on a trip that culminated stylishly in two nights at Aman Tokyo. Surprisingly, this textbook in sleek design is but one of only a few urban Amans in the world; with its philosophy of providing small intimate resorts and utter privacy in off-the-beaten track places, how would Aman adapt to a city locale? The privacy part is easy, because as is the way in most Asian high- rise hotels, there is a small lobby at street level, but to get any further requires the skills of a Ninja unless you’re a bona fide guest. So, after my initial arrival, I was swept up to level 33 of the Otemachi Tower to begin my stay. More gracious staff awaited as I left the lift and then came the jaw-dropping wow moment. Ahhh, so this is how Aman

cities (Beijing and Venice for example), but this is its first “vertical” hotel and one where architects Kerry Hill were involved from the beginning to ensure they got this incredible lobby built into a tower where the hotel occupies floors 33-38. A vast central expanse is akin to an inner courtyard, 40 metres long and topped off by a ceiling and upper “walls” made of layers of textured washi paper towering through the centre of the building, with rooms built around it. Further following the Japanese

theme, there is an inner garden in the reception area, which during my stay included a beautiful blossom display on a grand scale. There is also an “engawa”, a feature that forms a “corridor” between the reception area up to The Restaurant and The Lounge, but is also supposed to represent how Japanese homes would have a veranda-like area separating the home from the garden; a place to contemplate the change of season. The views from the bar are


Good to know  Some of the special things the hotel can arrange include a trip to the fish market with a chef or a tour of the city in the Aman’s own rickshaws.  The Cafe by Aman offers an indoor and outdoor garden setting for Mediterranean- inspired lunch and dinner.  The hotel’s cellar is stocked with 1,200 wines and sakes.  The spa on level 34 includes a 30-metre pool, eight treatment rooms, Japanese baths, fitness centre and yoga studios.  Cathay Pacific flies from London or Manchester to Tokyo via Hong Kong. Return fares from Heathrow to Tokyo from £839 in economy, £1,909 in premium economy and £3,629 in business. Tel: 020 8834 8888,

total sanctuary, so light and simple, with camphor wood, washi paper and stone reminders of where you are, in case the views were not enough. The artfully hung towels; the perfectly made bed; the Shoji screen hiding the

bathroom; my messy jewellery

arranged in a box one night at turndown; the deep “furo”, or soaking tub; the discrete technology – it was all so perfectly orchestrated. On the final morning, it was back

to the restaurant for one of the most memorable breakfasts ever. Everything was meticulously presented on a wooden tray in the delicate proportions I had come to appreciate as so typical of Japan. I had the view of the open kitchen to one side and to the other, the city waking up – and while I still could’t see Mount Fuji, the clouds scudding across the sky helped create another lasting memory of my first – and hopefully not only – trip to Japan. Tel: 00 800 2255 2626

How to book it Inside Japan offers a four-night trip from £3,325pp, including flights with Cathay Pacific, private car airport transfer, a day’s guiding with private car, transport pass, helicopter trip, sake evening, Tsukiji fish market tour with Michelin-star chef and cooking experience at Tempura restaurant. Tel: 01172 443263,

Style & substance

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