The Incidental Tourist

Review: Park Hotel Tokyo

Park Hotel Tokyo LobbyThe first thing to know about the Park Hotel Tokyo, located just above Shiodome station and just a short walk from Shimbashi Station is that there are two hotels with disturbingly similar names right across the street from each other.  So you’re either staying at the Park Hotel Tokyo or the Royal Park Hotel Tokyo, both of which are simply known as the Park Hotel to the locals.

What you don’t need to remember about either hotel is that, like most other Asian hotels rated 3 stars or more, the service and facilities are at least a star above what you would expect.

To get from Narita airport to the Park Hotel Tokyo is not difficult, even if you don’t have a ride waiting for you at the Arrivals terminal.  If you like trains, there’s the Japan Railways Narita Express that runs to Tokyo Airport Station/Nihombashi where you can connect to the Keihin or Tokaido lines to Shimbashi station.  From there, it’s a short underground walk to Shiodome station and the B2 entrance to the Park Hotel.  However, if you don’t feel like dragging your luggage around after a long, trans-Pacific trip (or trans-Europe/Asia if you’re coming from a European country) there’s the Airport Limousine Bus.  For a mere 3000 Yen each way, you will get door to door service from the Arrivals terminal at Narita (or Haneda) to the front door of the Park Hotel Tokyo, and they will handle the baggage for you.

IMG_4737Getting into the hotel is accomplished by way of an elevator.  The lobby is located on the 25th floor and the rooms extend up from the 26th to 33rd floors of the building.  The rest of the space is mostly office space, typical in Japan where everything seems to have at least two functions.  The lobby is well appointed with comfortable seats and is wide open all the way to the 33rd floor.  So standing there, fresh off the elevator, you feel like you’re standing inside a grand cavern surrounded by tourists, art work, and two restaurants and a bar.

The hotel staff greets you warmly, making you feel as though you are a movie star.  It’s been my experience that this is how hotel service should be, and how it always seems to be in anything 3 stars of higher in Asia.  The staff is courteous and professional and all are bilingual. They’ll cater to your every whim, it seems, as long as you’re willing to pay for it.  I’m sure there is a limit to what they’ll do for you, but I never reached that limit in my week stay.

Once checked in, you’re off to your room on one of the upper floors.  Because of the layout of the building, a large triangle, you’re guaranteed a great view from your room either overlooking the bay and the famous Tsukiji fish market where fishing boats come in every morning to deposit some of the best seafood that can be had, facing the famous NTT Tokyo tower which resembles the Eiffel Tower, especially when lit up at night, or facing into central Tokyo, and bustling shopping and partying destinations like Roppongi, Shibuya and Shinjuku.  Even their low end rooms feature nearly floor to ceiling windows that are wide and give the rooms an airy feel.

toiletThe rooms themselves are nicely appointed with either twin, full or queen sized pillow top beds and pillows that are half down and half buckwheat.  The bathrooms feature one of the things that puts Japan above the rest of the modern world, something so blindingly simple and immediately obvious that America should feel stupid for not having it: heated toilet seats.  There’s nothing like sitting down for that nice, morning constitutional on a seat that is warm to the touch.

The room makes for a fair workspace if you have some things to take care of and the wireless is the best I’ve seen in a hotel so far, being high speed, reliable no matter where you are in the hotel and without the usually problems with overloaded access points you find in other places.  The lobby floor also has a business center with meeting rooms, phones, printing services, money exchange and desk space so you can take care of your duties before heading out to that meeting, business lunch or dinner, or shopping, sight seeing and who knows what else your deviant mind desires.

The concierge can arrange just about anything you need, from postage for those post cards you are sending back home to a private car to take you and your friends or colleagues to that hot night spot over in Roppongi, to arranging your shelter at Station 8 and all the necessary transportation for your journey to summit Mt. Fuji.

Sleeping is easy in their beds, once you’ve overcome the jet lag, and if you are still finding it difficult, simply call down and set up an appointment with their specially trained pillow specialists who will come and personally help you pick out a better pillow as well as help you with tips and lessons on proper sleep technique to get the most out of your slumber.  This sounds a bit daft at first but when you realize that the typical Japanese office worker is working from 9AM to 8PM every day, followed by dinners and drinking and other entertainment, you will soon appreciate how much a good night sleep means.

The next morning, help yourself to a buffet breakfast in the lobby central seating area, but expect to pay about 2500 Yen or so each day for the privilege.  For the more cost conscious, there is a Family Mart on the B2 level that serves up tasty treats for far less, and while you’re at the basement, walk through Shiodome station and make it out to the Shimbashi side and you’ll find a McDonald’s, Subway and several other restaurants in Shiodome Tower that can provide you the food you crave.  Additionally, step outside Shimbashi station and there is a world worth of both local and chain restaurants serving up all manner of traditional and nouveau cuisine as well as global fare from places like the typical fast food restaurants and the most authentic English Pubs I’ve found outside of the U. K.

The hotel’s location so close to both Shiodome and Shimbashi station means you can be just about anywhere in Tokyo in thirty minutes to an hour which opens up the entire metropolitan area of shopping, nightlife, parks, temples, palaces restaurants and things that can’t be adequately shoved into a single category.  Tokyo’s public transit system is one of the best and most efficient in the world.  When the sign says the trail will be there at 11:21 AM, it arrives precisely at 11:21 AM.  I should also mention that the announcements on the train are presented in both Japanese and English so you don’t need to worry that you’ll miss your stop as long as you pay attention to the announcements or each station.

washerFor extended stays, the hotel offers both the standard laundry service which includes washing, pressing, starching and dry cleaning as well as coin operated washer units on the 26th floor which can do a weeks worth of clothing at once for only 500 Yen.  Another model of Japanese efficiency, the one machine will wash and dry as well as add the necessary detergent and softener in one go.  You put your clothes in, pick which cycle you need, insert coins and come back in 2 hours to pick up your freshly laundered clothing.

The one disappointing thing about the hotel is the gym.  They have an expensive spa operated by Thann Sanctuary which provides relaxation services like aromatherapy, facials and massage, but the gym facilities amount to little more than a small room and a couple machines.  Given my experience in other Asian hotels, this was not surprising, I’ve yet to stay in one, even the Grand Hyatt Tapiei that had a decent work out space for the health conscious.

Overall, my stay at the Park Hotel was certainly pleasant and enjoyable.  I’ve lodged in hotels in three different Asian countries at this point, and the Park Hotel Tokyo is certainly towards the top of the list when it comes to amenities, service and comfort.  Certainly there are better hotels out there in the metropolitan Tokyo area, but there can’t be many.

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