A Very Asian Conrad Christmas: Trip Planning
Cathay Pacific The Pier Business Class Lounge (HKG)
Cathay Pacific B777 Business Class HKG-HND / HND-HKG
Cathay Pacific Tokyo Haneda Lounge (HND)
Conrad Hong Kong
Cathay Pacific The Pier First Class Lounge (HKG)
Conrad Tokyo is well-situated in central Tokyo, located just ten minutes’ walk from Shimbashi Station (the nearest JR station) – that may sound like a distance, but since you can essentially walk through a continuous underground path directly from the station to the hotel, it’s simple enough getting there – even with (wheeled) luggage to handle.
It’s a bit of an odyssey getting there – once you make your way to the correct (Tokyo Shiodome) building, it becomes a matter of finding the right escalator to the correct side of the building. Good thing there’re plenty of signs.
But wait! The journey’s not over yet. The hotel’s located on the 28th floor (and above) of the building, which means after stepping through the first entrance you’ll need to proceed to take an elevator to the hotel lobby.
At last, you’ll be well-rewarded when you finally get to the check-in lobby.
If you have lounge access (i.e. Hilton Diamond members, or are booked into an executive room) you get the option of checking in at the executive lounge. I soon got my welcome letter and also printed confirmations of various restaurant bookings I’d requested prior to the trip (a common enough service offered by Japanese hotels).
The hotel was at high occupancy when we checked in and so we didn’t initially get a suite upgrade, but I put in a request to see if one would be possible later in the stay – happily, we were able to be further upgraded for our last three nights there.
Along the way, we passed the gift shop and noticed that they were selling the toys (rubber duck and plush bears) that guests receive free of charge, thus allowing you to quantify the value of freebies you’ll be getting with the room (whether you’ll ever pay retail for these is another matter).
After braving yet another lift lobby, we finally made it to the room.
The room (executive room bay view)
We had booked the basic room available (King Room City) and were upgraded to the King Executive Room Bay View – technically a three-step upgrade, which doesn’t sound too shabby. In practice, all this seems to have netted us was the same 48 sq. m./516 sq. ft. room on a higher executive level with a bay view (instead of a city view).
That said, we really liked the room – if the basic room looks like this, I think it’s safe to say that all the rooms in the hotel are pretty sweet. The positive vibe towards the room began when we first opened the door to be blinded by the sunlight streaming in from the full-length bay windows. There’s the closet on the left, and the entrance to the bathroom on the right.
Walk further in and you’ll see the TV and work desk area on the left.
The minibar, glasses (and TV-linked electronics) are cleverly hidden within the TV console.
The Japanese aesthetic is clearly exhibited in what they chose not to hide – a Japanese-style teapot and teacups (as well as complimentary bottled water).
I like Conrad beds – think they’re a good balance between being soft while still offering good support.
The bay window area is equipped with a lounge sofa and cushions, essentially offering a second sitting/lounging area. One with a pretty good view, I might add.
Beside the bay windows there’s a bunch of magazines cleverly hidden (again) away in a swivel box. The slippers offered by the hotel are of the thick fluffy variety – we very much approved.
We had arrived rather early (to be honest, we were rather thankful to have been able to check in so early) so some of the freebies only appeared later that afternoon, like the welcome gift of hard candy and biscuits, as well as a pair of plush bears (retail value – ¥1296; plush gryphon not included).
When you step into the bathroom, you’re greeted by a stylish circular mirror and twin sinks. Great for simultaneous shared use.
To the left is the bathtub – the bathroom’s one of those types with a clear wall looking into the room; there are electronically-operated blinds that can be deployed. To one side of the sink are the bath amenities (the default’s Aromatherapy Associates, though you can request for other brands like Shanghai Tang). Also provided – rubber duck (retail value – ¥1080).
Across from the bathtub are the shower and toilet. The bathrobes provided are also thick and fluffy. Again, full marks there.
The suite (executive suite bay view)
Two nights later, we were upgraded to the King Executive Suite Bay View, a 72 sq. m./775 sq. ft. room that manages to squeeze in a dedicated living area into a space that’s 150% the size of a basic room. The hotel staff helped us make the move as painless as possible – it still involved packing everything we had, but basically they helped us shift all our stuff over while we were out and about.
Interestingly enough, the website’s floor plan doesn’t seem to match the room I’d stayed in – in particularly, the orientation of the bedroom and bathroom seemed quite different (also missing – walk-in closet). I’m guessing they changed the design along the way?
When you enter the room, you’re greeted by the living area. (There’s a guest toilet to the right of the entrance, because sometimes nature calls out to multiple people at once.)
The same TV console hidden minibar magic at work here.
The bay view is pretty incredible at night.
You’ll need to walking past the living area TV to get to the bedroom area, with a full-length closet on the other end of the bed from the entrance.
Another full-sized TV for all your
couch bed potato needs.
The bathroom can be accessed from behind either side of the bed. One side goes direct to the bath tub, while the other leads to a corridor between the sink and the toilet.
Behind the sink is a long corridor that serves as the shower room.
Truth be told, we half-regretted the upgrade. The suite is just… massive. You need to walk quite a bit more than before, and we actually liked having the lounge sofa by the bay window. For two people, the basic room is more than enough.
An additional perk was that we were able to complete our Conrad Tokyo toy collection since we received another set of 2 plush bears + 1 rubber duck. Hooray for small victories!
Breakfast was served at Cerise, a restaurant located on the same level as check-in. If space permits, you might get to sit further in the restaurant, with full-length glass walls allowing you to peer out towards the city.
Gold/Diamond Hilton members are entitled to a Conrad breakfast, comprising one item from the a la carte menu and full access to the buffet (retail value – ¥3800). This is a lot more generous than most other hotel breakfasts I’ve had.
A la carte items
Over our stay we managed to try most of the a la carte items on the menu. They were all excellent. I particularly enjoyed the Huevos rancheros – I guess it’s just rather different from the usual hotel breakfast fare.
It’s worth mentioning that though some of the items (e.g. French toast, pancakes) are available from the buffet, the made-to-order versions were much fresher and tastier, so it’s not a bad idea ordering them if that’s really what you fancy.
The buffet spread was extensive and generally of high quality. Pastries, hot food, bread…
Cold cuts, various Japanese dishes (e.g. grilled fish, rice)…
Juices and milk…
Fruits and salad…
The executive lounge is located on the top (37th) floor of the hotel. The lounge is split into two – one side, where the lounge service desk (and food) is located, is designed around a fireplace, with various sitting areas and windows that look out into the city.
The other arm of the lounge, which feels a little like an overflow room due to its distance from the food and lounge attendants, tends to be quieter. I prefer the bay view from this end of the building, though.
The buffet offering’s a lot smaller in the lounge – the main benefit of eating here would be that it’s probably quicker (with fewer people around). If you’re not in a hurry, you should probably check out the restaurant instead.
One thing to take note of – you can actually get made-to-order egg dishes at the lounge, which is rather uncommon for lounge breakfasts.
We didn’t actually make it for afternoon tea very often – there’s just so much good food in Tokyo taking up stomach space that we pretty much never wanted to make it back to the hotel in the 3-5pm window for tea.
There is ice cream (vanilla and green tea flavours), though – perhaps one could make an exception for that. If you aren’t visiting in winter, anyway.
Evening hors d’oeuvres
I often pop back to the hotel before heading out again for dinner, so unlike afternoon tea I usually made it for the evening hors d’oeuvres.
Or maybe it’s the availability of alcohol.
I found the food offerings in the evening to be superior to the afternoon’s (to be fair, we were only around one afternoon). On one of the evenings, they even had abalone on offer.
(Probably a cheaper variety, but still…)
Alcoholic drinks – in case you’re not that into wine, there’s a section with hard liquor as well.
I’m not sure if it’s the environment, the food or the alcohol that clinches it (probably the combination of all three), but I rather enjoyed my (almost daily) pre-dinner detours to the lounge.
I tried to pop into the gym and swimming pool to take some pictures, but realised that the facilities are actually housed within the hotel’s spa. Which meant that an attendant was assigned to me to explain the various facilities when all I wanted to do was to do a quick hit and run.
I’m clearly no expert, but the facilities looked nice enough – I imagine that the views from the 29th floor are a unique feature in this case.
I’ve stayed at a few Conrad properties now, and I’ve decided that Conrad Tokyo is easily my favourite of the city Conrads. Perhaps it’s simply because it’s Japan, land of quality food and awesome service; but pretty much everything about the stay was practically perfect.
To clarify – I (mentally) classify the resort Conrads like Koh Samui and Bali in a separate category, since I feel they serve a totally different function. And on that note, I still find it hard to justify splurging on a city hotel when it’s as pricey as Conrad Tokyo, when much of my time would likely be spent out in the city (and eating at places other than the hotel’s executive lounge).
Still, if you do decide to give it a go, you can always revisit my trip planning post for tips on how to minimise your damage. I think it’s certainly worth trying at least once!