By Jeremy Yap
My love affair with the Hotel Chinzanso Tokyo started on arrival. It could have begun badly due to the hotel's location. With bags, it's almost imperative to take a taxi from the closest train station, the not-very-well-situated Mejiro station on the JR Yamanote line, or the even less used Edogawabashi station on the Yurakucho line. Add to that the rain we encountered, and the mood could have turned south quickly.
But the gorgeous arrangement of yaezakura, a type of bushy pink sakura, that dominated the entrance hall certainly helped to lighten the mood. Check in was quick and efficient and the staff even had a free plush stuffed animal for my four-year-old. Our bags were whisked up to our room on the sixth floor, where the gracious staff member kindly answered any questions we might have thought of on the short elevator ride up.
I would have been content to just revel in the apartment-sized room with the soft king bed. Or soak in the massive tub using bath products from L'Occitane (always a treat). But I got to do both of those things while munching on my chocolate (thoughtfully provided, along with a bottle of water, during the nightly turn down service) as well as soak up the views of the hotel's traditional garden from the pictures windows of my room.
The garden itself deserves a closer look, and it's free to visit from 6 am until 11 pm. The garden actually predates the hotel, and has been here since the mid 1800s. A stroll along the paths reveals stone deities (you can challenge yourself to find all seven gods of good fortune), a waterfall, a pagoda that has been relocated here from the Kansai area and - in the spring only - a stunning weeping cherry tree. Should you find yourself feeling peckish while you're on the grounds, you can also pop into one of three restaurants - a kaiseki establishment, a beef restaurant or a soba eatery. Or, dine on lighter fare at Le Jardin back up in the hotel, where you can enjoy stunning views over the garden through which you just ambled. At night, parts of the garden are atmospherically lit up with colored lights.
As a former member of the Four Seasons chain, Hotel Chinzanso is not cheap. But good deals can be found online and in special promotions and if you want to spoil yourself in Tokyo, this is certainly a top contender at which to do so.
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