24 Hours at the Aman Tokyo
A slice of zen
Checking into the Aman Tokyo is almost like going over to a friend's penthouse, albeit an ultra-exclusive one with views of the Imperial Palace and its surrounding gardens, Tokyo Skytree, and if you're lucky, Mount Fuji in the distance. A quick lift ride from the ground floor transports you to the hotel lobby on the 33rd floor of Otemachi tower. Upon exiting the lift lobby, you're immediately greeted by an expansive reception space topped off by a rectangular light feature, a six-storey high installation, inspired by a Japanese washi paper lantern. The impressive centrepiece allows the dark basalt clad reception area to be filled with light, and is centered over an ikebana display that changes according to the seasons, itself sitting over a water feature. The sense of calm and quiet elegance the hotel exudes is further enhanced by traditional Japanese rock gardens that sit on either side of the ikebana display. Kerry Hill Architects, who designed the hotel, deftly combined Japanese minimalism with traditional touches—a recurring element being the engawa, a veranda where indoor living spaces meets the outdoors, and where families usually gather. An engawa separates the indoor garden from the hotel's lounge, and can also be found in the bedrooms, separating the sleeping area, from the sitting area.
Boasting some of the largest room sizes in Tokyo, Aman Tokyo offers different room and suite types, with the 'smallest' being the deluxe room, clocking in at impressive 71-square metres. The ryokan-inspired rooms feature blond camphor wood panelling, tatami mats, shoji screens and sliding doors (although space-saving really isn't an issue at this hotel). In upholding traditional Japanese bathing customs, or the practice of misogi (purification of the body by washing), each room comes with a deep furo-style bath tub, with traditional bathing accoutrements like wooden pails, a low stool and cloths to clean and wipe down the body before entering the hot tub. Japanese hot tubs are primarily for relaxing in, after all, not for washing. Japanese cypress-scented bath salts are provided to enhance the bath experience—a scent that is both soothing and relaxing. The bathroom is also thoughtfully equipped with heated slate flooring, so even if you're visiting in the middle of winter, you can be sure the cold won't hamper your bathing experience.
Both my bathroom and room boasted seriously incredible views of the city: there was Mount Fuji looming in the distance, and the Imperial Palace and its lush gardens before me—even after taking countless photos of the view, how could I want to leave the room? But the Aman Spa beckoned—2,500 square metres of space dedicated to wellness. Inspired by Kampo healing (the herb-based Japanese system of diagnosis and therapy), and zen philosophy, and meditation, Aman Spa offers a range of treatments and programmes with a holistic approach to total wellbeing. The spa offers a yoga and Pilates studio, fitness centre, 30m heated indoor swimming pool, 8 treatment rooms and a relaxation area that overlooks the city of Tokyo. Misogi facilities are found in both the male and female changing rooms, with aroma steam rooms, large hot plunge pool complete with both Japanese and Western-style showers.
The Aman Tokyo Seasonal Journeys offer guests the chance to indulge in seasonal ingredients in the belief that balance can only be achieved through harmony with nature—winter, when the body is in need for warmth and replenishment sees ingredients like ginger, pine, yuzu oil and sake kasu (a by-product of sake making) being incorporated into the treatment. Guests are invited to use the spa facilities pre-treatment, and then you're led to the treatment room where a foot ritual, where the feet are soaked and cleansed, is performed before the massage. Nigori sake, a milky white sake that's only produced during winter, was added to my foot soak. After drying my feet off, I was treated to possibly the best massage I've had in a long time. My therapist was gentle but exerted just the right amount of pressure my body needed, releasing whatever stress knots and tension my body held on to. An hour later, I was in an utter state of bliss and headed to the relaxation area to sip on tea, and snack on local delicacies while watching the rain fall and traffic pass below. There really is something quite romantic about sitting in a quiet spot, with a bird's eye view over a metropolis like Tokyo and just watching the world go by.
After what must have been an eternity spent at the spa's relaxation area, I returned to my room and took my third bath of the day, in preparation for dinner at The Restaurant by Aman, one of the three dining spots at the hotel. Meals can also be had at The Lounge by Aman, which offers all-day dining and a bar, and at The Cafe by Aman located on the ground floor of the hotel building, tucked away in Otemachi Forest, an urban forest that spans some 3,600 square metres. The Restaurant specialises in Italian cuisine, specifically from the Veneto region, with a fine dining menu that's updated according to the seasons. I opted for the Stagione menu, which while on the whole was good, perhaps could be better seeing that Tokyo is the fine dining capital of the world, and also the city with the most Michelin-starred restaurants.
Unexpectedly, it started to snow just as I was almost done with dinner. I polish off the remainder of the puff pastry with Aomori apple, savour my glass of wine before heading back to my room for my fourth bath of the day—there must be no better way to enjoy a hot bath, with snow falling outside the window and city lights twinkling beneath.
For more information about Aman Tokyo, or to book your stay, please click here.