When this posh 251-room Tokyo hotel first commissioned "starchitect" Kengo Kuma to design the building's lobby, they couldn't have imagined the considerable cache it would deliver a decade later. Kuma, after all, went on to design the new and recently-unveiled Tokyo 2020 Olympic Stadium unusually composed of timber drawn from all of Japan's 47 prefectures or provinces. Kuma's love of timber as a material is well represented in the public spaces of the five star Capitol's Tokyu, too, built on the site of one of Tokyo's most famous hotels, where the Beatles stayed during their 1963 Japan tour. The original hotel, as tends to be the Tokyo way, was demolished to make way for this contemporary 29-storey five-star establishment.
The Capitol Tokyu Hotel is located close to the residential and commercial area of Akasaka and overlooks the imposing, if not overly attractive, Japanese National Diet Building, or Parliament House, with some rooms also within sight of the Prime Minister's department and his conspicuous rooftop helipad. On clear days it's even possible to see the distant though unmistakable shape of Mount Fuji. Conveniently linked to the Tokyo Metro subway in the building's basement, the city's attractions are within easy reach. The hotel also neighbours the historic Hie Shinto Shrine and gardens, the origins of which can be traced back 500 years, providing the immediate vicinity around Capitol Tokyu a surprisingly peaceful mood.
The design of the lattice-like, timber-clad lobby was intended to create a calm, elegant and distinctively Japanese ambience and environment for guests, an objective which fully succeeds when combined with the soothing nature of the surrounding hotel gardens and water features. The hotel's signature Japanese restaurant is housed in a separate pavilion conveniently linked to the lobby.
Unusually for Tokyo, the hotel's rooms, with the smallest at nearly 45 square metres, are extremely spacious and feature a pleasing balance of western and Japanese aesthetics. My premier king is even large and includes a Japanese shoji rice-paper and wood sliding screen separating the bedroom from the large bathroom and wardrobe-cum dressing room space. Although the Capitol Tokyu's rooms were not designed by Kengo Kuma, the rooms blend well with the rest of the hotel's serene aesthetic.
Tokyo is a genuine world food capital so any culinary-minded hotel guest would not want to spend too much time dining in-house. However, the Capitol Tokyu features some excellent wining and dining choices, including the casual Origami for all-day dining and the more format Suiren for kaiseki, sushi, tempura and teppanyaki while the intimate Capitol Bar overlooks the lobby. There's also a Chinese eatery, Star Hill and even a pastry boutique selling a range of western and Japanese sweets, breads and baked items suitable as edible souvenirs to bring home.
From the Capitol Tokyu, which is actually deceptively well-situated, Tokyo really is your oyster tempura with the famous Ginza shopping and entertainment area only three stops away from the stations below the hotel, with other popular neighbourhoods such as Shinjuku, Shibuya and Roppongi similarly close on the city's superbly safe and efficient metro system. For a fee, the hotel can arrange a private visit to the otherwise off-limits, aforementioned Hie Shrine
Although it's ostensibly pitched, due to its location, at the political and business market, the affluent leisure traveller will feel entirely comfortable at one of the Japanese capital's most sophisticated stays.
Doubles at the Capitol Tokyu Hotel start from ¥48,000 ($A650). 2-10-3, Nagata-cho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo. Ph: +81-3-3503-0109. See tokyuhotelsjapan.com
Anthony Dennis visited Tokyo as guest of the Japan National Tourism Organisation, Qantas and the Capitol Tokyu Hotel, Tokyo
The refined design provides a sense that you're staying in an unequivocally japanese hotel.
The surrounding political district is not among the most vibrant neighbourhoods in Tokyo.