BYOB (Bring Your Own Brekkie): A Review of the Prince Gallery Tokyo Kioicho, a Luxury Collection Hotel
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This was my third trip to Tokyo, and I was in town this time to see one of my best friends perform in the incredible “Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake,” and I was hoping to try out a new Marriott property. I had my beady eyes set on the Prince Gallery Tokyo Kioicho, a Luxury Collection Hotel, which from the outside seemed to provide a luxe experience in a decent location and gave me a chance to stretch the legs of my Marriott Bonvoy Gold elite status and see if it’s actually worth anything!
Cash rates were around £330 per night, in line with similar hotels in Tokyo (if not at the slightly lower end for the better of the city’s hotels). I found award availability for the dates I was to stay, but as a Category 8 property, each night would have cost 85,000 points. Given TPG’s current valuations, paying cash made more sense.
The hotel is also available as an American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts property, but we found much better prices booking directly with Marriott, so we decided against FHR and the associated benefits (daily breakfast for two, room upgrade if available, noon check-in if available, guaranteed 4pm checkout and $100 food-and-beverage credit).
The Prince Gallery is in the upscale Akasaka neighbourhood, admittedly not the most fun or sexy spot. The immediate surrounding area is rather quiet and drab (but actually in a nice way, and an escape from the stereotypical Tokyo craziness). However, within walking distance is the Imperial Palace, and within the complex of the hotel on the lower floors is a wealth of handy amenities, including a number of restaurants, a pharmacy, flower shop and convenience store.
What the hotel lacks in immediate positioning is its connections to the rest of the city. Asakusa-Mitsuke and Nagatacho metro stations are a very short walk away (three or four minutes). With a decent tailwind, you can get from your hotel room to the Shibuya crossing in around 15 minutes.
I arrived into Tokyo Narita Airport (NRT), a veritable shlep to anywhere in central Tokyo, but I opted for the JR Narita Express, available for 4,000 yen (£31) for a return ticket, to Tokyo station, and then an Uber to the hotel, which took around 15 minutes.
The Uber pulled up to the covered entrance of the hotel, seemingly used for car arrivals only, and I was met by two waiting staff who opened the door, took my bags and gave me a warm welcome.
The hotel was between floors 30 and 36 of the tower block it occupied, with reception on the highest of these floors.
We rode the lift up to the lobby, the staff took my passport, and I was invited to take a seat and enjoy the views whilst check-in formalities were completed.
The lobby was beautiful and calm, with a gorgeous vista and modern, wide fireplace.
The process took about 30 minutes in the end, due to a computer error. It seemed the hotel were unable to track available or ready rooms, so at 2pm, and after almost a whole day of travelling, I was asked to go to the spa to freshen up and wait around an hour or two for a room. In my tired state, I put a little pressure on and begged for a room straight away, and they came up with the goods pretty quickly. Bonvoy Gold elite status apparently afforded me the right to a view in the direction of Tokyo Tower, although I wouldn’t get too excited — a large skyscraper stood in the way of all but the top 10% of it!
My room was 3046, a deluxe king room with a Tokyo Tower “view.” The room was fresh, bright, clean and modern.
A welcome gift of macarons had been left, along with a welcome note.
The king bed was comfortable, with gorgeous, crisp, white bedding. The mental struggle of not hopping straight in after such a long journey was real.
There was a desk and chair, and a wide and comfortable soft bench in the window, set up with cushions to sit and enjoy the views, which were expansive looking out across the city.
The room included usual amenities: a hair dryer, robes, slippers, safe and an ironing board.
There were USB ports and electrical sockets by the bed, a real must now in any modern hotel.
The room took tech to the next level, however. A smart control pad next to the bed controlled all lights, air conditioning, blinds and curtains, along with “Do Not Disturb” and “Make Up Room” signs (I usually forget about this and can’t be bothered to switch on the DND sign in bed, and end up getting woken up unnecessarily early in the morning, so I was very appreciative of this!).
All of the above could be controlled from the bedside tablet, which also provided extra services such as room service, newspapers and local and hotel information.
There was a Nespresso machine and a kettle. The minibar was well-stocked, and free water was provided and replenished every day.
The bathroom was average size but luxurious. There was bath and walk-in shower, which was hot with firm water pressure. The toilet was Japanese-style, with all the bells and whistles.
The glass walls separating the bathroom from the bedroom could be made opaque at the touch of a button.
There was a huge array of goodies on offer, including Byredo Le Chemin products, toothbrush, hairbrush, razors and bath salts.
A turndown service was provided at night, and chocolates, slippers and Japanese pyjamas were set out when I returned to the room.
Food and Beverage
Breakfast was served in the Oasis Garden restaurant from 7am until 10am and was where the hotel truly faltered. The space itself was a beauty, but beyond that, the experience was a joke.
I was made to queue for around 10 minutes before getting into the restaurant. It was rather late on (only 20 or so minutes before breakfast closed), so I was surprised to see a queue. In fact, I can’t remember ever having to wait to be seated at a five-star hotel for breakfast. To make matters worse, the area where we were asked to wait was extremely hot and crowded, with six or seven others also waiting for breakfast.
I was finally led to a table with lovely city views (can you sense a theme in this hotel?), had my order taken from the menu (pancakes and a cappuccino) and swiftly set off for the buffet.
The buffet had a decent selection and looked good from afar, but up close, nothing really hit the spot, “fit from far, far from fit” felt like the appropriate summary. Most of the hot offerings were lukewarm, some of the veggies were not ripe, and the options were random. They seemed to have only gone halfway on a huge array of food types.
When I returned from the buffet, I found that my table had been given away. All my belongings were still on the table, right there in middle, surrounded by someone else’s breakfast as they happily munched away.
There were no other free clean tables, and so the staff scrambled around trying to find me somewhere to sit. It took around five minutes to locate a table and clean it up. Not a big deal usually, but I was starving, hangry and had waited almost half an hour to even get to this stage. Now I was standing like a lemon in the middle of the restaurant holding my food, which was now going cold.
Confusion continued as the staff tried to deliver my pancakes to my original table and couldn’t quite process what had happened. The pancakes arrived looking pretty but stone cold. At least they were consistent on temperature.
The cappuccino finally arrived after a push of the staff, and this wasn’t great either. All in all, an incredibly frustrating and disappointing morning. Especially in light of what my expectations were for such a supposedly luxury hotel.
Would room service be any better? In room dining, available via the bedside table or over the phone was quick and nice. I ordered an afternoon apple crumble and cafe au lait, which arrived in around 20 minutes and was hot, delicious and presented very well. The bill came to £16.50 in total.
Along with Oasis Garden, the hotel also had a number of other dining and drinking options including Souten (Japanese) and Illumiid (bar). On entering the hotel, I saw Levita, the Sky Gallery Lounge, right in front of me down a spiral staircase. The views were fantastic, and this was a vibey spot to grab a nighttime cocktail.
The gym was well-equipped and modern.
There was also an indoor pool with city views. Beyond the pool was also a spa offering a full menu of treatments, but what was really wonderful was the area connected to the men’s changing rooms. There was a traditional Japanese trio of sauna and hot and cold plunge pools. The plunge pools had large windows with beautiful vistas to be enjoyed alongside the mandatory nudity in this area!
Except for breakfast, which went some way to ruin my time, I enjoyed my stay very much at the Prince Gallery. The relaxing vibe and exceptional gym really made the experience particularly enjoyable.
Being such a huge city, if I needed to be in a certain area, I might think harder about my choice, but this time round, without being tied to a specific place, and with the decent public transport connections, I was very happy here.
I’d happily come back again on my next Tokyo trip if the price were right, perhaps next time trying out Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts and aiming to snag an upgrade to take the experience to the next level, but I would definitely rethink my breakfast options!
All photos by the author for The Points Guy.
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