Hotel Okura, Minato, Tokyo ****

Q: What is it? A: One of the nicest time-capsules of the ’60s I’ve visited in my days. Public spaces are fantastic. The actual rooms are less exciting. But feeling like you’re staying in a James Bond movie helps.


A time capsule to ’60s Japan. Designed in 1962 by architect Yoshiro Taniguchi. Note the Kirikodama-gata (The Hexahedral Pattern), also known as the Okura lantern.


The Okura is no ordinary hotel. It has 801, 8 restaurants, a coffee shop, 3 bars and a Japanese tea room, and there is even an arts museum on the hotel grounds.


It’s just an expensive fountain pen’s throw from the US Embassy and it has seen guests as most U.S. Presidents, the King and Queen of Sweden, Lady Di and Prince Charles and… well, let’s just say that the list goes on…

Time travel made easy:
It opened in May 1962. The management has made a choice not to refurbish this gem and for that That’s a wise decision.
First, the Okura is a huge hotel. It’s so big that there are different opinions on how many rooms there are. In the press area on their web page the number 834 is mentioned. That is probably correct. All in all there are eight restaurants and three bars. There’s also a dentist. Not to mention hair dresser, florist, shoe shine people, post office, a pharmacy and a travel agency. In a special room there are tea ceremonies twice a day. The beauty store, (whatever that is), have the Moomins on display in their shop window.

Why you should stay here:
The hotel offers both traditional Japanese rooms and ordinary rooms. I the former, (suites with odd numbers ranging from M773 to M781), you’ll sleep on futon mattresses. In the latter, everything is as you could expect in an international hotel.

Two things make the Okura worth the stay:
1) The design. The pictures above were taken on the 1st of January 2007 but very little has been changed since 1962.
To enter any of the lobbies, (there are two of them), means taking a journey back in time to the early James Bond movies. The underground path between the main building and the south wing very much looks like an airport in the late 60s. But don’t expect the same atmosphere in the guest rooms. In fact, they are very ordinary.
2) The service. It’s flawless. At times it’s even exceptional. The breakfast opened 10 minutes before the scheduled time on New Year’s Day, because the staff didn’t want guests, (that would be me), wait and feel hungry.

The location is superb. It’s not far from Roppongi, 10 minutes from Ginza and only 15 minutes from Aoyama. And on top of everything else, the whole place and its staff feel like they take pride in being there and catering to your needs. And with 45 years of experience, they don’t have much to prove. They just deliver. As long as you don’t expect to say at a modern hotel, you’ll be just fine.

Hotel Okura
2-10-4 Toranomon
Tokyo 105-8416

Phone: +81-3-3582-0111

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