Where to stay in Tokyo
What's so special
Situated opposite the Imperial Palace, at the entrance to Tokyo’s Marunouchi and Ginza districts, the Peninsula offers guests a great location as well as the blend of tradition and state-of-the-art technology the chain is known for.
How they rate it
The Times lists the Peninsula as one of the three best hotels in Tokyo. “Eighty-six buttons – in one room,” says the paper’s David Rose. “Want to see what’s on TV? There’s one at the end of the tub. Need to make a call? Your phone will filter out the sound of bathroom echo and running water. You’ll also be supplied with a mobile phone, a nail-polish dryer, and a separate dressing room.” That’s on top of the top-end luxury essentials, such as giant beds, and the fantastic views. If you can drag yourself away, the hotel also “has its very own private passage to the Metro or a Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow at your disposal”.
The Peter restaurant on the 24th floor offers panoramic views of Tokyo and serves French cuisine. Dishes include braised beef cheek in coffee.
A double room costs from £375 per night. For more, see www.peninsula.com, or call 00 800 2828 3888.
What's so special
You’ll struggle to find better views in Tokyo than those on offer at the Shangri-La. Located on the top 11 floors of the 37-storey Marunouchi Trust Tower, all 200 rooms have fantastic views of either Tokyo Bay and the Tokyo Skytree Tower, or the Imperial Palace gardens and, if the skies are clear, Mount Fuji.
How they rate it
The Shangri-la hotel chain’s properties are “based on the theme of comfort and serenity” inspired by James Hilton’s novel of 1933, Lost Horizon. In the book, plane crash survivors find the Tibetan monastery Shangri-la, which houses the secret of eternal youth.
The hotel “rewards guests with, if not exactly eternal youth, then a welcome and well-appointed respite from the hubbub of the streets”, says Tim Walker in The Independent. “The service is impeccable” and the rooms full of Japanese wonders, such as remote control toilets. The décor is “a sleek fusion of Western and Japanese corporate chic, in golds, blacks and wood veneer tans”.
There are two restaurants serving Italian food or traditional Japanese cuisine, with dishes such as sea urchin steamed custard.
Doubles from £333, with breakfast. See www.shangri-la.com/tokyo, or call 0800-028 3337.
Escape the crowds at a rural retreat in Spain
Spain doesn’t have to mean bustle and city breaks – you can escape the masses and enjoy the countryside at one of these rural retreats. Le Domaine in Castilla y Leon is a former abbey (pictured). Built in 1146, it was turned into a hotel and opened this year. “It has a dining room in the old refectory, with vaulted ceilings and frescos, two bars and a vinoteca where guests can sample regional wines,” says Aoife O’Riordain in The Independent. “Other surprises include the outdoor ‘Hedge Museum’.” Doubles start from €290, B&B (Ledomaine.es).
Iriarte Jauregia is located in the Basque country, a region “known for its tranquil countryside”. This luxurious 19-room hotel was once a 17th-century palace and enjoys views over a “valley dotted with stone farmhouses. The culinary joys of San Sebastian and architectural wonders of Bilbao are within reach.” Doubles cost from €171, with breakfast (Iriartejauregia.com).
Alcaufar Vell is a “honey-hued mansion” on a farm on Menorca’s south-eastern shore. Set in fields and pine forests, “it has cattle and horses, a pool, even its own stretch of beach”. The 21 rooms are “decorated in a traditional style, with a scattering of antiques”. Doubles from €125, B&B (Alcaufarvell.com).
Le Torre del Visco is in Aragon, “one of Spain’s least populated regions”. The 17 bedrooms have “vast beds” and open fireplaces. Doubles from €161, B&B (Torredelvisco.com).