As preparations intensify in anticipation of the 2020 Summer Olympics, we visit a few of our favourite Tokyo neighbourhoods.
Shinjuku is home to New National Stadium, a high-tech new venue built especially for the 2020 Olympics, which makes it a great place to stay. The Skyscraper District within the area allows for incredible views over the city, and book stores and theatres make it especially popular with students.
The Park Hyatt, made famous by Sophia Coppola's film 'Lost In Translation,' is a stunning property situated on the top 14 floors of a 52-storey tower. Featuring a tranquil spa focussed on optimal wellness, the hotel has a peaceful vibe. The views across Tokyo are incredible, and it's location near Shinjuku Station—one of Tokyo's main transport hubs—means it's the perfect base from which to explore the city.
Make sure to visit Shinjuku Gyoen, one of the largest parks in Tokyo. The immaculately manicured greenspace is a tranquil respite from the bustling city and is one of the best places to see cherry blossoms if you happen to visit in March or early April. We love to eat at nearby Kohaku, a Michelin starred shabu-shabu restaurant. Or, book in advance for Ubuka, a brilliant seafood restaurant that features uber fresh and inventive dishes, each of which is a true labour of love for Chef Kato.
For a nightcap, try Bar Benfiddich. The dark and intimate bar highlights liquors made by the proprietor, Hiroyasu Kayama, made with herbs grown on his parent's farm outside Tokyo. If you want to experience Tokyo's famous karaoke, nearby Babel House is a great bet—ask for the pink Chanel-themed 'Coco Room.'
Adjacent to Shinjuku, Shibuya is home to suspension-roofed Yoyogi National Gymnasium, where the Olympics' handball competitions will take place. Traditionally known for being the centre for youth fashion and culture, shopping, and nightlife, we particularly love the area's restaurants. Begin your adventure by visiting Shibuya Crossing, one of the busiest intersections in the entire world.
Choose Trunk Hotel as your base for exploring. This boutique hotel celebrates Japanese craftsmanship, from the design to the Japanese-Western fusion cuisine, to the on-site lifestyle store featuring locally made treasures. From there, make sure to visit Kiddy Land—a massive emporium stocking souvenirs and items from every kitsch and cartoon character you can imagine.
We love kaiseki restaurant Nasubi-tei, a hidden gem tucked away in the district of Ebisu. For spectacular sushi, visit Michelin-starred, relaxed and modern Kurosaki, about 10 minutes from the famous crossing. If you desire a break from Japanese cuisine, try Benoit, a fabulous Alain Ducasse-owned French bistro, or Bottega, a Michelin-starred Italian restaurant which serves excellent homemade pasta—try the Tajarin al Tartufo Nero.
Try to save some energy to go to Womb. The famous three-floor nightclub is in the backstreets of the love hotels district and is consistently ranked as one of the best clubs in the world. Contact Tokyo, another club close by, has been a popular place to party since 2016 and has a rolling lineup of international DJs.
Formerly the village of Shibazaki, Otemachi is the most ancient part of Tokyo. The district is home to the Imperial Palace, home of the Japanese Emperor—and incidentally the most expensive square kilometer of land on the globe. Make sure to fully explore the beautiful property, still protectively surrounded by a moat. There is a lovely Wadakura Fountain Park within the property, where dancing fountains move alongside beautiful flowers and granite seating.
Aman has built its first urban hotel at the top of the recently developed Otemachi Tower. Set high above the city, the minimalist hotel is luxurious and comfortable with traditional Japanese furnishings. Featuring a Japanese spa with individual treatment rooms framing a 30-metre pool, it is the ideal place to have a zen experience after days of hurried exploration.
Enjoy a meal at Michelin-starred Heinz Beck Tokyo. The celebrated chef's Tokyo space overlooks the Imperial Palace outer walls and moat on the mezzanine floor of the Nissay Marunouchi Garden Tower. The creative menu features reinterpreted Italian classics—try the Caramelle di Melanzane, caramel ravioli stuffed with vegetables and seafood. For spectacular sushi, visit Sushi Kanesaka. The classically decorated restaurant has a peaceful aesthetic, and the buttery fish is served Edomae-style around the counter as if watching a performance—make sure to book in advance.
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