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February 15, 2002
The exterior of the 40 floor Akasaka Prince hotel is one of the most dramatic
in Japan. The hotel is on a small hill and not surrounded by any other high
buildings so defines the skyline all on its own. It was designed in 1983 by
renowned Japanese architect Kenzo Tange and resembles the vertical folds of a
Japanese fan. It is ultra modern inside and out.
The inside, apparently also designed by Tange, continues the theme of
straight lines and simplicity. In fact many people consider the huge white
marble lobby a bit sterile. It is definitely cool and airy. Whatever your
opinion on it, it will never be described as gaudy or kitsch.
Each room in this hotel has a superb view, whether you face Akasaka with the
possibility to see Mt Fuji in good weather, or facing Marunouchi and the
Imperial Palace. The unique shape of the hotel makes every bedroom a corner room
with views in at least three directions. The windows are huge with built-in
sofas underneath. Furnishings are white, silver and shades of gray. The bathroom
is a typical Japanese prefabricated plastic unit but a nice feature, also common
in many Japanese houses, is that the washing basin is outside the bathroom
itself making it easier when two people are sharing.
All rooms have coffee makers and fridges. Closet space is a bit limited (even
if you don’t stay 40 nights like I once did) but large drawers add useful
storage room. I liked the modern lighting in the rooms but a colleague complained that he found it too dark to read.
There are 12 restaurants / bars in the hotel including the two with excellent
views on the 40th floor. A sign board in the lobby with
weather information announces daily whether Mt Fuji is viewable from the 40th
floor - you don’t really have to go that high up but the hope is that you
should linger in either the bar or restaurant there. The Trianon used to be
considered the best Western restaurant in Tokyo but had stiff competition the
past couple of years (prices haven’t come down though). The Potomac offers
standard hotel restaurant food but at reasonable prices for Tokyo.
The Akasaka Prince doesn’t offer many additional facilities. It has a pool
for a couple of months in the summer. The best thing to do is probably to sneak
across the road to view the beautiful garden of the Hotel New Otani.
The hotel is very conveniently located with excellent access to public
transport. Five subway lines interlink at the Akasaka-Mitsuke - Nagatacho
stations which are within five minutes walk from the hotel.
Room rates are around yen 17,000 ($ 130) per night.
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