After landing at Tokyo-Haneda at 6 in the morning and breezing through the snaking immigration queues (thank God for the APEC Card!), it was straight to the Hilton Tokyo via monorail and subway.
Tokyo would be the first stop on the cherry blossom trail, and five nights at the Hilton Tokyo cost me a total of 280,000 Hilton points (70,000 points per night, plus the fifth night free).
I’m well aware that Tokyo has much more exciting options, but the Hilton Tokyo is a solid choice, and sometimes solid is all you need.
|🏨 tl;dr: Hilton Tokyo|
|No flash or glitz here, but a prime location, great lounge experience and renovated rooms allow the Hilton Tokyo to punch above its weight.|
|👍 The Good||👎 The Bad|
|🌸 Popping My Cherry Blossom|
Hilton Tokyo: Arrival & Check-in
The Hilton Tokyo is located in the Shinjuku neighbourhood, and easily accessible via an underground link to the Nishi-shinjuku and Tochomae stations. Nearby attractions include Shinjuku Gyoen Park (great if you’re here to catch the cherry blossoms, as I was), but otherwise the immediate area is more sleepy, intended more for business travellers than tourists. Most of the nearby restaurants close early in the evening, and it’s about a 15-minute walk to the bright lights of Shinjuku.
If you’re lugging heavy bags or just don’t feel like walking, the hotel also offers a free shuttle bus service to Shinjuku station every 20 minutes, dropping you at Bus Stop #21 in front of the Keio Department Store.
There was little wait at check-in, with numerous positions manned at the desks.
The staff thanked me for being a Diamond member and informed me of my benefits, including daily breakfast and executive lounge access. Our room, understandably, wasn’t ready when we arrived at 7.30 a.m, but the staff gave us a keycard so we could access the showers near the pool and gym as well as use the onsen (more on that later).
Side note: pre-COVID, the Hilton Tokyo used to issue two welcome drink coupons to Diamond members. These have since been discontinued.
Hilton Tokyo: King Premium Room
The Hilton Tokyo has a total of 38 floors and 811 rooms. As a Hilton Diamond member, I was upgraded from the lead-in Queen Hilton to a King Premium Room on the 15th floor. While I normally prefer higher floors for the view, there’s quite a wait for the elevators in the mornings and evenings since it stops on virtually every floor- so in this case being lower was better.
Premium Rooms are 2 sqm larger than the lead-in category, and that extra space goes to providing a separate shower and tub. They supposedly offer a Yukata (Japanese cotton Kimono, which I couldn’t find) and deluxe toiletries too, but surprisingly, no Nespresso machine.
The Hilton Tokyo underwent a renovation in 2018, so the rooms are suitably modern. If you hate the old Hilton template of beige and light wood, relax. These are more sophisticated rooms, with darker wood, grey and neutral accents predominant.
There were also some uniquely Japanese touches, such as Shoji (sliding outer partitions made of a latticework wooden frame and covered in translucent white paper) on the windows and bathroom panels. If you’re sensitive to light, don’t worry- there’s a further opaque panel you can slide close to block out all light.
The King-sized bed was a standard Hilton Serenity mattress, manufactured by Serta. This has a medium-firm feel, and its design dampens motion during the night, so if you get up to use the toilet the disturbance to your companion will be minimal.
Bedside tables had power outlets (Type-A, not universal, if you’re bringing an adapter, do remember that Japan uses 100V versus Singapore’s 230V), though they lacked USB charging ports.
In a corner of the room was a glass-topped work desk, together with a comfortable chair. Interestingly enough, there was a universal power outlet here, but again, no USB charging.
Wi-Fi speeds in the hotel were superb; I clocked 206 Mbps down and 124 Mbps up, with zero stuttering when streaming or doing video calls.
The mini-bar area had an empty fridge, two glass bottles of mineral water (replenished daily), as well as some teabags and instant coffee.
Inside the wardrobe was a safe, ironing kit, safe deposit box and slippers.
While the bathroom only had space for a single vanity, it was still larger than I expected (Tokyo hotel rooms are notoriously cramped, especially in the bathroom department).
I particularly appreciated that they didn’t go with a combination shower-tub, one of my pet peeves because it somehow manages to be bad at both. Instead, there was a separate shower area and mini-tub.
Water pressure from the shower was extremely good, perhaps a bit too strong even. At full blast, the water hit you like a super soaker, excellent after a long-haul flight, less so when you’re trying to wind down for bed!
Bulk-sized Crabtree & Evelyn amenities (the first time I’ve seen them in this format) were mounted on the wall, and I swear they felt better quality than the single-use ones.
Hilton Tokyo: Executive Lounge
The executive lounge is located on the 37th floor, and open from 7 a.m to 9 p.m daily. Breakfast is served from 7 a.m to 10.30 a.m, with pre-dinner drinks from 5.30 p.m to 7.30 p.m. There is no afternoon tea service.
As always, lounge access is complimentary for Hilton Diamonds.
Snacks and drinks are served throughout the day, including Asahi and Heineken beer.
The evening spread featured hot items like gyoza, dim sum, a carb (usually pasta), plus a chef’s special that rotated daily. There was also chawanmushi (egg custard), cold cuts, cheese, and cakes.
The highlight for me was the soft-serve machine. You loaded whichever flavour capsule you wanted, pressed a button, and got delicious vanilla ice cream (of course you choose vanilla, because you’re a man of culture) in seconds.
The spread was certainly substantial enough to be a dinner replacement, but in a gastronomic destination like Tokyo, you’re going to have to discipline yourself not to go overboard.
As for drinks, there was a selection of spirits and Umeshu…
…plus a wine machine that dispensed the following options (full bottles were also available):
- Heroes Sauvignon Blanc (Chile)
- Nuivana Chardonnay (Spain)
- Anterra Pinot Noir (Italy)
- Consentia Cabernet Sauvignon (Chile)
I was delighted to see that they had a sparkling wine option, and while champagne might be wishful thinking at a Hilton, Chandon Brut is a perfectly acceptable substitute in my book (it was certainly much better than the horrible sparkling wine Conrad Osaka was serving in their lounge!).
I want to give a special shout out to the executive lounge team as well, who were fantastic throughout the stay. Even though the lounge was perpetually crowded during breakfast and evening cocktails, they hardly set a foot wrong. They remembered guest preferences (like how we liked to have an additional cushion for back support), delivered drinks with little to no mix-ups, cleared tables quickly, and somehow found time to chat and get to know guests better.
One morning we showed up for breakfast and the lounge manager (at least I think it was the lounge manager) excitedly told us that Mount Fuji was visible from the windows, making sure he got us a seat where we could take in the view. It’s that kind of small gesture that really left a good impression in what could so easily have been a by-the-numbers hotel.
Hilton Tokyo: Breakfast
Hilton Diamond members can take their breakfast either in the executive lounge, or the Marble Lounge in the lobby. We’ll talk about the latter first.
The Marble Lounge offers a wider selection, but is also much more noisy and chaotic. We tried breakfast here on the first day, after which we stuck to the executive lounge where the service and quality was much better.
The Marble Lounge offers all the breakfast staples you could hope for, like an egg station, bacon, sausages, various breads and pastries, cereals, cold cuts and cheese.
There was also a Japanese station with traditional Japanese breakfast items, but horror of horrors: they screwed up the rice. It was way too mushy, like someone had messed up the water to rice ratio- a cardinal sin in Japan. Fortunately, the rice in the executive lounge was cooked properly each day.
Breakfast in the lounge was a much better experience. I’d say the spread had about 70% of the items that Marble Lounge did, and even though the lounge was crowded, it wasn’t anywhere as chaotic as downstairs.
The spread had a selection of cold cuts, salad bar, cereals and bakery area.
There was also a selection of hot items like pancakes, breakfast potatoes, mushrooms, bacon, and a rotating fish option.
Guests could also enjoy a chef’s special egg dish, which rotated daily.
Coupled with the friendly and efficient staff, breakfast in the lounge was a much more relaxed affair, and I’d recommend it to anyone with a choice.
Hilton Tokyo: Swimming pool
The Hilton Tokyo’s heated indoor pool is open from 7 a.m to 8 p.m daily. Swimming pools are a rarity among Tokyo hotels, so it seems a bit churlish to complain that the Hilton Tokyo’s pool is tiny. So tiny, you need to make prior reservations- and yes, they are very strict about this.
A maximum of four people are allowed in the pool at any time. Realistically speaking, however, two is the most that can comfortably swim, since each of the lanes can only take one swimmer at a time (unless you don’t mind getting kicked).
Nonetheless, we made a point of booking the first slot every day, and there were times when we had the entire pool to ourselves.
Hilton Tokyo: Gym
The Hilton Tokyo’s gym is open 24 hours a day, and is kitted out with Technogym equipment. The cardio machines have personal entertainment systems, and the staff are diligent at wiping down the units between use.
Hilton Tokyo: Onsen & Sauna
One of the nicest features of the Hilton Tokyo is its traditional-style onsen, complete with wooden panels and hot and cold sections.
I should emphasise the “traditional” part, because that means you go in fully nude. No swimsuits, no towels. If your momma didn’t give it to you, you don’t wear it. It might be awkward at first, but I promise you it’s ultimately very liberating. Nothing like a bunch of dudes just hanging out, and I really mean hanging out.
In addition to the onsen, there was also a dry sauna.
The Hilton Tokyo isn’t a flashy property. There’s no Instagrammable lobby, no breathtaking swimming pool or be-seen rooftop bar.
But you know what? Flashy is overrated. I wanted a hotel with a good location, complimentary breakfast, free booze in the evenings, and exercise facilities. The Hilton Tokyo provided all that, plus some unexpectedly excellent service in the lounge.
That, for me, is reason enough to pick this property if you’re a Hilton loyalist who doesn’t like the splurgish prices of the Conrad Tokyo, or the less-ideal location of the Hilton Tokyo Odaiba.