The three pieces of sushi for dinner and lack of breakfast on the redeye JAL Business Class flight had left us both with an insatiable hunger, which is definitely a great position to be in, in Tokyo.
I honestly think it is impossible to have a bad meal in this city, every single dining establishment just seems to take so much pride in every aspect of serving food. We were so hungry that we decided to get some food at the first place we set eyes on, after getting through the barriers at Shimbashi station.
The noodles were perfectly chewy, the tempura had an amazingly crisp crunch with no softness whatsoever and the broth was rich and complex. So yeah, bog standard Tokyo food
K went for a slightly different and equally delicious noodle dish and we also shared some karaage from the extensive selection of “add ons”
Suitably sated we walked through the myriad labyrinthine twists and turns that link Shimbashi station with Shiodome station and The Conrad Tokyo.
The Conrad Tokyo is one of my favourite hotels in the world and having been there a few times already, it is one of those places in which I feel an instant sense of familiarity, a sense of home.
The moment that you step into the ground level lobby you are instantly transported in a gleaming and elegant world of art and foliage.
Up on the 28th floor the decor changes to dark woods, thick carpets and designer lighting. This really helps to set a quiet, inviting and residential tone to the hotel.
My visit was just before Halloween and the Conrad had made an effort to decorate the lobby bar accordingly
The check-in area is dominated by this enormous painting by the acclaimed Japanese painter Toko Shinoda, who is still going strong at the age of 103.
A huge selection of her works were actually on display at the time of my visit, to commemorate the ten year anniversary of the Conrad. It was great to have our own private art gallery on site, without having to leave the building.
Check-in was handled by the amazing Ari, head of guest relations and one of the nicest people I’ve ever come across in the hotel business. He was effusive and friendly in his welcome, he explained that as a returning guest and (at the time) HHonors Gold, I had been upgraded to an executive floor room. He also went on to explain in depth about the Toko Shinoda exhibition, telling us about her life and how she came to work with the hotel.
Although the Conrad is undeniably elegant, it is also modern and playful in its design. Something that the PH with its frankly appalling and terrifying medusa headed babies, has never seemed to quite get a handle on.
Conrad Tokyo hallway art
The landings by the lifts are beautifully decorated.
I love the dark wooden hallways too
Executive Twin City Room
I got a twin room on this occasion, as Kamara was only in town for a few hours before heading over to PVG, to spend a couple of weeks with her family. My good friend Mossy got a pass from Mrs M to come and hang out with me instead.
Elegant, modern and unmistakably Japanese decor. The beds here are supremely comfortable too and all the light switches and room controls are simple and intuitive (which is particularly welcome when you’ve been out drinking in Tokyo’s karaoke bars)
Every little detail is flawless. There are no scuffs or scratches anywhere.
Also they have Time-Life Eames chairs! I shudder to think what it cost to decorate and maintain these rooms.
The minibar is particularly impressive.
No messing around with the whiskey selection in the room.
Even the hotel pamphlets come in a bespoke, glossy wooden box, lined with suede and the directory comes bound in a buttery soft leather.
The glass wall between the bathroom and the bedroom allows loads of natural light in, if you want privacy though, you can lower the electric shutters.
Super high pressure rain shower.
The standard Aromatherapy Associates amenities, I requested Shanghai Tang during check-in and two full sets were brought up, a couple of minutes after we got to the room.
A special duck to add to the collection. I still think it’s bizarre how travelling seems to be indelibly linked to cute animal toys… SQ bears, LH ducks etc.
One day I’m going to get one of these for home… then everything in life will be good.
After dropping off our things and grabbing a quick shower, K and I headed off for a walk around Ginza.
Unfortunately nothing there really opens before 10:30, so we decided to walk through the Tokyo Forum, one of my favourite buildings ever.
We then grabbed a coffee and headed back, past the Ghibli clock, to The Conrad. K grabbed her bag from the lobby and we walked together to the station to say our goodbyes.
Thankfully some treats had been left for me in the room, so I wasn’t too sad.
Given how many times I’ve been to Tokyo I didn’t feel the need to go out and walk just for the sake of it. Instead I just hung out in the room, a room which I can only ever hang out in whilst I’m in Tokyo – catching up on trip reports and photo editing.
I swear, I would be so productive (and relaxed) if I had a setup like this at home.
I’ve had rooms with both city and bay views and actually think I like them both equally. There’s just something really unique and exciting about the clean density of the city’s buildings and the constant flow of traffic below.
After a few relaxing hours I made my way to meet my friend Mossy in Omotesando, one of my favourite neighbourhoods in Tokyo, after he finished work.
Since we were so close by, I suggested that we should check out Omotesando Koffee – the notorious hipster coffee shop, whose enormous queues had thwarted me in the past. We picked up some cans of Strong Zero at a Family Mart, to entertain ourselves, incase the line was long… this was a solid strategy.
We waited for around 25 minutes, inching through the tiny Japanese courtyard…
…until finally, we stepped into the reverential, zen-like silence of the Koffee Shop itself.
The menu consisted of the usual espresso based drinks, as well as a couple of boozy options and one food item, square Japanese cakes – one by one, or five in a box.
I’m not sure if the coffee here was necessarily better than what you get at places like Nude, Milkbar or Kaffeine in London but the atmosphere and overall experience were definitely cool. I’m also glad I went because this place was only ever meant to be a one year pop-up and two short months after my visit, it abruptly closed its doors for good.
There are now a few other locations in the Koffee family though, including one in Toranomon, right by the Andaz. So I’m sure I’ll have a chance to try the cakes on another occasion
After drinking our coffees we went back to the Conrad to check out the Halloween afternoon tea spread, in the Executive Lounge.
The service at this lounge is absolutely fantastic and the quality and presentation of the food also far exceeds the offerings at other city Conrads I’ve been to, in London and Singapore.
Whilst Rangali (Maldives) and Koh Samui are undoubtedly the crown jewels of the Conrad brand; when it comes to their city hotels, Tokyo is head and shoulders above the rest.
Unfortunately we weren’t able to stay for cocktail hour as we had arranged to meet Mrs M and a couple of other friends at the Hilton Shinjuku. The Hilton recently underwent an extensive remodeling of its F&B outlets and it now looks pretty great, the design is very open plan, sleek and modern. A far cry from the staid, traditional and slightly depressing atmosphere that the place used to have.
Visit to the Hilton Shinjuku
As soon as Mrs M showed up she greeted us with a bag full of liver drinks. For those of you that don’t know what a liver drink is: Japan has a multi-million dollar industry which churns out tiny metal bottles, with bright colouring, which purportedly cure hangovers. These are sold at every convenience store in Tokyo (i.e. they are sold every 3 metres you walk). Some of these drinks contain turmeric, some contain taurine. Hepalyse contains that plus a load of liquefied calves liver… and it is the bomb. It is as close as I’ve come to genuinely feeling bulletproof before going out drinking.
Mrs M knew what she was doing.
The drinks at the new bar, Zatta, are really well executed, I also love how you get oshibori service and cheese sticks too
Adding to our base layer of caffeine and mixing in some booze. Never a bad way to get things started.
High end Teppanyaki restaurant at the Hilton Shinjuku
Chef’s table at Junisoh – Hilton Shinjuku, Tokyo
After a couple of drinks we headed over to the new Teppanyaki restaurant: Junisoh. Mrs M pulled some serious strings with her contacts at Hilton to get us the chef’s undivided attention for the evening. The first time I ever stayed at the Conrad was on her friends and family discount rate, if it wasn’t for that I probably never would have strayed away from the PH and never would have realised how good the top end Hiltons can be.
I’m a really big fan of Japanese tableware. We’re slowly replacing all of our plain white crockery at home with amazingly textured, coloured and shaped Japanese pieces like this.
The meal was served Kaiseki style, with dish after amazing dish served to us whilst these outrageously marbled pieces of A3 Wagyu sirloin and fillet, slowly came up to room temperature, on the edge of the grill.
A3 Wagyu sirloin and fillet steak
The meal commenced with this unbelievably delicate flan topped with a fresh goji berry.
Next came an insanely delicious assortment of sashimi, ikura and some sort of fried thing, in terms of texture and flavour this dish was immense.
Whilst we were eating that mixed dish, I began to notice something very awesome going on…
The chef was preparing grilled prawn heads, heads which he was pressing and pressing into ever flatter shapes, whilst reserving the meat to one side.
The resulting dish was one of the most intensely flavoursome seafood dishes I’ve ever eaten. That orange sauce was imbued with the flavour of an entire ocean of prawns. There were no loose strands, no unpleasant shell, the prawn heads were perfect.
Even the vegetables were outrageously good. They tasted like vegetables that had somehow eaten other vegetables. The quality of ingredients was just on another level to almost anywhere I’ve ever been to.
Again, a boring salad that was somehow elevated to an unprecedented level of freshness and flavour
Next up came the main event. The A3 Wagyu Sirloin. The texture and intensity of flavour reminded me of eating Xiaolongbao. Like eating gel capsules, each containing an intense, liquid steak centre. Unbelievable. The kind of food that you’d gladly debase yourself for.
The kind of food we’d all gladly debase ourselves for.
After that came the rice and miso soup, served with thin slivers of fried garlic and assorted pickles. All of which were, of course, spectacular.
The dessert. Everybody else had pretty much demolished theirs in the time it took me to take this picture. You get the idea, it was epic.
After that intensely amazing banquet and the various bottles of red wine, white wine and sake that accompanied it, we headed into Shinjuku.
Shinjuku at night.
No matter what time of day it is, it always seems to be this busy.
We ended up in one my favourite bars in the entire world. At the time I was there, my eagle eyed readers may have noticed, Mojitos were a shade over $2… and they are premium drinks. Regular spirits with mixer are 5 for 1000JPY, or $8 back in October 2015.
We drank and sang until our lungs and legs didn’t work anymore. I didn’t take a huge amount of pictures, in fact I only took one.
This dude was quite insistent on wanting to appear in my trip report. So, here you go buddy.
The next morning, I felt… OK. Not great but certainly far better for having woken up in a cloud-like bed, in one of my favourite hotels in the world, hanging out with one of my favourite people in the world; who was feeling just as bad as me.
Thankfully we were seated in the elegant, quiet and welcoming confines of China Blue for breakfast, as opposed the more ‘family friendly’ area of the main buffet.
The buffet here is slightly limited, compared to the main room, but the staff are more than happy to head over to the other buffet and retrieve anything you want.
There is also a bona fide a la carte selection (included alongside the buffet for HHonors Gold and Diamond).
I went for the Eggs Benedict because they are legitimately the best Eggs Benedict that have ever graced the face of this planet.
The Conrad Tokyo is one of my favourite hotels in the world.The decor is modern, elegant and understated; the service is friendly and effusive without being overly stuffy and formal; the views are fantastic, the beds are super comfy and it’s close to HND.