Suite Life: Radiant vistas and Japanese finesse up high at Four Seasons Otemachi

Pigneto, where breakfast and city views are served in the morning. PHOTO: FOUR SEASONS HOTEL TOKYO AT OTEMACHI

TOKYO – Those who love Tokyo for its hustle and bustle as much as its peaceful pockets of greenery and nooks and crannies teeming with history will enjoy staying at the newest Four Seasons hotel in Japan. 

Opened in September 2020, the Four Seasons Hotel Tokyo At Otemachi is a 20-minute walk from the Four Seasons Hotel Tokyo At Marunouchi, which opened in 2002. The two sister properties are located in the same neighbourhood – in Tokyo’s central business district in Chiyoda. 

But the new Four Seasons Otemachi offers different experiences, as I learnt during a trip in autumn. The 190-key hotel is as spectacular and glitzy as the 57-key Four Seasons Marunouchi is bijou and intimate. 

To use a Singapore analogy, the Marunouchi area where the older hotel stands next to the neoclassical Tokyo Station is like the Raffles City and the City Hall area. Otemachi would then be the Marina Bay area.

In the past, Otemachi was the site of Shibazaki village, where wealthy samurais and merchants lived and conducted business during the Edo period (1603 to 1868).  

Today, Otemachi is home to the headquarters of many multinational corporations, including Mitsui & Co, owner of Otemachi One, the multi-use behemoth which houses the hotel. 

Commanding bird’s-eye views of the metropolis from the top six floors – levels 34 to 39 – the Four Seasons Otemachi now towers above the historic neighbourhood. 

Culture and commerce in central Tokyo 

Beneath the swanky Otemachi One lies a wholly different world – a subterranean realm chock-a-block with shops, restaurants and frenzied commuters who ply the five subway lines that run through the Otemachi station, Tokyo’s most connected.

This means the hotel is a good base for exploring Tokyo, or outside of it. From Otemachi station, it takes 10 minutes at a brisk pace to walk to the Tokyo station that serves the Shinkansen.

For resplendent views in spring or autumn, stop by Chidorigafuchi, a moat around the Imperial Palace located next to the Four Seasons Hotel Tokyo At Otemachi. PHOTO: FOUR SEASONS HOTEL TOKYO AT OTEMACHI

Beyond the ultra-modern face of Otemachi, reminders of the neighbourhood’s past abound.

The gardens and grounds of the Imperial Palace, where the reigning Emperor of Japan resides and the remnants of Edo Castle remain, are a hop and skip from the hotel. Guests have nature, history and culture at their doorstep. 

Views galore

Design aficionados will be thrilled to spot the subtle homage paid to Japan’s past and present in the cool decor by award-winning Belgian architect and interior designer Jean-Michel Gathy.

To start, the vermilion timber-framed entrance to the hotel on the ground floor of Otemachi One references the torii gates at Shinto shrines.

In the rooms, large pictures of fabrics in motion by photographer Namiko Kitaura hang over the beds – a tribute to the late Issey Miyake, one of Japan’s most famous designers who is known for his technology-driven designs. 

But for me, the winning design feature of the Four Seasons Otemachi has to be the views that greet guests all around.  

Wraparound windows in a suite gives you all-round views of the city. PHOTO: FOUR SEASONS HOTEL TOKYO AT OTEMACHI

Standard rooms come with a choice of Imperial Garden or city view. With the latter, you can see the Tokyo Skytree.

Tip: If you have the budget and companions to fill a two-bedroom suite, book one of the Panoramic Suites. Their position at a corner of the building frames both views for you.

While the bedroom that starts at a spacious 527 sq ft with an expansive bathroom anchored by a deep bathtub (next to floor-to-ceiling views, of course), may entreat you to stay in, most of the action takes place on the 39th floor. It is where the hotel’s spa and fitness facilities, two restaurants, check-in lobby, lounge and bar are.

It was a clear day when I checked in on the 39th floor, and I could see the snow-capped Mount Fuji some 140km away. 

I also had breakfast with great views daily at Pigneto, the restaurant on the same floor.

Zen amid a megalopolis 

Astounding views of the city await guests at every turn. The radiant morning light that filtered through the glass-to-ceiling wall and bounced off the water in the 20m pool where I did my laps gave me an energising start to the day. 

Dynamic and heady, Tokyo can sometimes make a visitor feel drained. To give guests the zen that Japan is known for, Four Seasons Otemachi goes a step further than offering spa treatments and meditation classes. Through the most subtle ways, guests are reminded to slow down and be present.

Enjoy wabi sabi, the Japanese aesthetic of imperfection and impermanence, with tea at the spa. PHOTO: MAVIS TEO

Tea before my Yakusugi massage – a 60-minute session costs 36,700 yen (S$375) – which uses Japanese cedar wood oil to “transport” me to ancient woods for forest bathing, was served on a beautifully chipped coffee table. I took a moment to savour wabi sabi, the Japanese aesthetic of imperfection and impermanence.

A tip for frazzled city folks who need to relax: Soak in the ofuro, the huge bath in the changing areas. Breathtaking views are included. 

Great nosh, heady tipples

At est, a dessert of Peau de Soja is made with tofu instead of dairy cheese. PHOTO: FOUR SEASONS HOTEL TOKYO AT OTEMACHI

The streets of Tokyo might be paved with good food, but the dining options in Four Seasons Otemachi should not be missed. Especially when the staff work with a “shokunin spirit”, putting in their best. And the results reflect that well-known Japanese dedication. 

At est, chef de cuisine Guillaume Bracaval reinterprets French classics with Japanese ingredients, with finesse. The menu is based on Japan’s concept of micro-seasons, known as nijisseiki, which has its roots in the ancient Chinese Farmer’s Almanac. A five-course lunch starts at 15,000 yen a person.

Up to 95 per cent of the seasonal produce is sourced from small producers in the country. Even knives and glassware are local. 

While reducing carbon footprint and keeping small family businesses alive may be the motivation behind this locavore leaning, diners benefit when chefs think out of the box. Instead of butter, a moreish soya hummus dusted with savoury kinako powder (made from the dregs of soya sauce-making) is served.

If you have room for more hotel grub, Italian restaurant Pigneto where breakfast is served, also dishes out comforting Italian pizzas and pastas. Feast on the work-of-art sweets created by award-winning executive pastry Yusuke Aoki during afternoon tea at the Lounge. 

Virtu, at Four Seasons Otemachi, is headed by Mr Keith Motsi, who last led the World’s Best Bar List fixture Charles H at the Four Seasons’ Seoul. PHOTO: FOUR SEASONS HOTEL TOKYO AT OTEMACHI

Look no further than Virtu for drinks, where cocktails start at 3,000 yen. The “Tokyo-meets-Paris” bar celebrates the global status of the two cities as style capitals. Paris in the roaring 1920s is channelled through an Art Deco theme that incorporates Japanese brocade murals and stained glass. 

Mr Keith Motsi, who last led the World’s Best Bar List fixture, Charles H at the Four Seasons’ Seoul outpost, holds the fort here as head bartender and head of beverage operations. 

Ask for a tour of the “ageing room” where Mr Motsi’s team performs alchemy and stores the spoils –  the distilled spirits, and the rarest cognacs and whiskies. You might just be given a taste of the housemade plum brandy used in one of the signatures: the Smoked Ume Fashioned, a blend with Japanese whisky and Hinoki bitters. 

Virtu also does a special menu that celebrates Japan’s micro-seasons. In November, one of the seasonal drinks was the fig cognac and spices with clarified milk. It was smooth and deliciously creamy sans the fats – perfection in a glass.

Hot Tips

Tap the well-informed concierge. Besides less trodden walking tracks with scenic discoveries, I learnt that the oldest sushi restaurant in Otemachi, founded in 1957, is a five-minute walk away.

And that Kagari Ramen, a Michelin-mentioned ramen eatery known for its snaking queues in Ginza, has a branch in Otemachi One. 

The hotel is also able to organise, on request, immersive experiences such as a Japanese ink wash painting workshop with a celebrated artist or a visit to a sumo “stable”, where professional wrestlers train. 

If you prefer to discover the neighbourhood by serendipity, the hotel provides free use of bicycles.

Four Seasons Hotel Tokyo at Otemachi

Where: 1 Chome-2-1 Otemachi, Chiyoda City, Tokyo 100-0004, Japan
Rooms: 190, including six suites
Rates: For December, rooms for two adults and two children (below age 18) start at 135,000+++ yen (S$1,370)

  • A former journalist, Mavis Teo is the founder of a media outreach consultancy and a freelance travel writer.
  • The writer was hosted by Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts.
  • Suite Life is a series on destination hotels and their locales.

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