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I recently took an around-the-world trip from NYC (with a stay at the new Park Hyatt New York) and then on to Tokyo for 62,500 AA miles and $5.60, with award seats on American’s A321 first class JFK-San Francisco (SFO) and JAL’s Boeing 777-300ER first class SFO-Tokyo Haneda (HND). I hadn’t visited Tokyo for a long time, but it took me no time at all to fall back in love with the city. Here’s my review of my stay at a hotel in Tokyo, the Andaz Tokyo Toranomon Hills.
Since my announcement of the groundbreaking of the Andaz Tokyo back in 2012, I’ve been eager to see the hotel for myself. The property just opened in June 2014, so it was great to catch it so early in its debut period. Starting at ¥39,950/$336 US a night, the Andaz is cheaper than the city’s Park Hyatt, but its neighborhood, Toranomon Hills, is business-y during the week and dead on weekends. I much prefer the locations of the Park Hyatt (in the Shinjuku district) or the Grand Hyatt (in the Roppongi), but the Andaz Tokyo is a five-minute walk to the Ginza line station and there are always taxis available, so it can still be a convenient option.
The hotel’s lobby, the Andaz Lounge, is set on the 51st floor—in the style of several Tokyo hotels—while the hotel’s 164 guest rooms (including eight suites) are on floors 47-50. To get to your room from the ground floor you need to go to the lobby first and then switch elevators (similar to the drill at the Park Hyatt New York), but once you get used to it, it’s not bad. There was never any real wait for elevators.
The Andaz Tokyo’s best rate is a non-refundable, seven-day-advance ¥39,950/$336 US per night, compared to the usual starting rate of ¥47,000/$395 US a night.
I have Hyatt Platinum status from being a Hyatt credit card holder, so I used Hyatt’s “My Elite Rate” to secure an Andaz King room (King bed; 538 sq feet) for ¥38,400/$321 US per night. Award availability is plentiful at this Category 6 property, where (per Hyatt Gold Passport’s category changes for 2015) an Andaz King or Twin can be booked for 25,000 points a night or 12,500 points + $150 US. Since I value Hyatt Gold Passport points at 1.8 cents apiece, 25,000 points are worth about $450 to me, so I decided to pay cash for this stay and save my points for more expensive stays.
Lobby & Check-in
Unlike many other Andaz hotels where you’re checked in by an unmarked hotel employee with an iPad, here there’s a dedicated check-in desk. We arrived at the hotel at 6:30 a.m., so I had actually booked a room for the night before—there’s nothing quite like traveling for roughly 24 hours and then having to wait nine more to get into your room!
It was unlikely that an early check-in would have worked, anyway, since the hotel was completely sold out. I didn’t mind splurging a bit to have a room ready right away, especially since Tokyo isn’t much of an early morning city. It was great to be able to shower and relax before going out exploring.
Tower View Room
The Andaz Tokyo’s room/bed types are divided into four general categories: standard Andaz rooms with king, large king or twin beds; Bay View rooms overlooking Tokyo Bay, Rainbow Bridge and the Ginza district; Tower View rooms with a view of the Tokyo Tower; and Bay View Suites, which have two king beds, separate sitting and working areas, and a huge wall of windows.
At check-in I was told I was upgraded to a Tower View room and I have to say, the view was indeed spectacular. (To see what I mean, take a look at the photo at the top of this post!)
Here’s a video I shot of my room to give you an idea of the layout.
I’ve rarely had a bigger closet in a hotel room, with plenty of space and cubbies for everything—it was almost like a dressing room in itself. I especially liked the local touch of Japanese-style slippers.
One of the best perks of the room, though, was catching a glimpse of the sunrise over Tokyo—while I was still lying in bed.
The daily, half-Western, half-Japanese buffet in the Andaz Tavern had lots of fresh, healthy choices, but those choices were the same every day—and after three days, I was completely bored with it. In terms of variety, I feel they really need to up their breakfast game.
Offering a mix of European and Japanese cuisines, the Tavern also has brunch on weekends, afternoon tea from 2-6 p.m. every day, and full lunch and dinner service. There’s a higher-end restaurant, BeBu, on the ground floor (which I didn’t try since Tokyo has so many other amazing restaurants), but food-wise, the Tavern has pretty much everything you’d want without the long elevator ride.
My favorite spot was by a window in the hotel’s 52nd (top) floor Rooftop Bar, which has an awesome outdoor terrace and the property’s most amazing city views. They have a small signature cocktail menu, but the bartenders here are really skilled and can easily make you your favorite drink.
The absolutely gorgeous AO Spa & Club on the 37th floor has five treatment rooms, each with their own shower, bathroom and private balcony, in case you (like me) enjoy a little city view with your pampering. The spa’s huge treatment menu ranges from a 30-minute green tea Express skin treatment to 90-minute massages, and prices start at ¥10,000/$84 US. At check-in they sit you down and make you your own smoothie while you fill out your spa questionnaire.
The fitness facilities here are top of the line, and during my visit, the huge locker rooms and sauna facilities (which are separate for men and women) were spotless. The real stunner, though, was the pool area—called the “Water Experience”—which includes a whirlpool, jet baths and a 20-meter indoor pool that looks over the city. While you take a soak, be sure to focus your eyes not too far from the hotel and you’ll see the sprawling grounds of the Imperial Palace. Not a bad way to do your morning laps!
The Andaz Tokyo is a chic, sharp hotel with a sexy lobby and even sexier views, and its close proximity to the metro makes it relatively convenient to more lively districts like Shinjuku and Shubuya. However, if you’re more into taxis than subways at night, just be aware that traffic can be bad in the Toranomon district; for instance, it could take a cab 45 minutes to get from the Andaz to Shinjuku. If nightlife and/or going out for dinner are a main focus of your trip and you don’t mind paying a little more, it’s easier to stay at Shinjuku’s Park Hyatt. This Andaz has a slightly sleepier vibe and is most ideal for travelers who like to spend the whole day sightseeing and then kick back in the evenings.
Have you stayed at the Andaz Tokyo Toranomon Hils—or are you planning to stay there soon? Let me know in the comments below. With some great bonus categories, the American Express Gold Card has a lot going for it. The card offers 4x points at US restaurants, at US supermarkets (up to $25,000; then 1x), and 3x points on flights booked directly with airlines or through amextravel.com. It is currently offering a welcome bonus of 35,000 bonus points after you spend $2,000 in the first three months.
With some great bonus categories, the American Express Gold Card has a lot going for it. The card offers 4x points at US restaurants, at US supermarkets (up to $25,000; then 1x), and 3x points on flights booked directly with airlines or through amextravel.com. It is currently offering a welcome bonus of 35,000 bonus points after you spend $2,000 in the first three months.