***This is part 4 of my “Fat and Furious” trip report detailing a recent trip to Japan which included stops in Tokyo, Kyoto, and Matsuyama***
2. Star Alliance First Class Lounge at LAX
3. Singapore Airlines Suites Class Los Angeles to Tokyo
4. Conrad Tokyo
5. Eating Tokyo Part 1 – Department Store Hopping in Ginza
6. Funaya Ryokan In Matsuyama
7. Living The Onsen Life In Matsuyama
8. The Ritz-Carlton Kyoto
9. Eating Kyoto – The Search for Matcha and Geisha
10. Kaiseki Dinner at 3-Michelin Star Kikunoi Honten
11. The Peninsula Tokyo
12. Eating Tokyo Part 2 – Maids, Robots, and Cosplay
13. Eating Tokyo Part 3 – Cherry Blossoms and THE BEST STEAK EVER
14. ANA Business Class Lounge at NRT
15. ANA Business Class Tokyo to San Jose
Since I rarely travel for business, I only have entry-level hotel status through credit cards and relatively small account balances, as my points-earning efforts are concentrated on airline miles. So while I’m not always able to leverage hotel status for free breakfasts and suite upgrades, on the flip side, it means that I don’t feel obligated to stay at a certain hotel in order to receive free breakfasts and suite upgrades.
So without the chains of loyalty forcing me to a particular property, as a hotel free agent I’ll simply stay where I want to. But when “where I want to stay” happens to intersect with “where I have points and status”, well that makes me one happy camper.
Within Hilton’s array of brands, my favorite of the bunch is the Conrad. We’ve enjoyed recent stays at the amazing Conrad Maldives Rangali Island, as well as the Conrad properties in Hong Kong, Macau and Dubai. Our first 2 nights in Tokyo were booked at the Conrad Tokyo and as an added bonus our stay was gratis, courtesy of the free nights from the Citi Hilton Reserve card which I applied for specifically for this trip.
We jumped onto the Narita Airport Express (NEX) train which took about an hour to reach Tokyo station from Narita airport. From there, we could have walked to the hotel but it was late and we had our luggage with us so instead we jumped in a taxi, and the short 10-minute ride cost about $15.
The taxi pulled into the Conrad’s covered rotunda and we got our first taste of the amazing Japanese hospitality that we subsequently enjoyed throughout the trip. As soon as we jumped out the taxi, a bellman ran over to collect our bags, and another hotel attendant greeted us. She asked for our name, which was then relayed to the lobby upstairs so that all of the paperwork and room keys would be ready by the time we arrived a few minutes later.
These bad boys were stationed outside where they seemed to stay parked for the entire duration of our stay. Perhaps they were on display for some sort of Fast and Furious convention.
The Conrad Tokyo occupies the 28th to 37th floors of the building, which means that you need to take 2 sets of elevators to go from ground level to your room. On the ground floor we got our first glance at the beautiful cherry blossoms that were starting to bloom all over the country.
The lobby is located on the 28th floor, along with the hotel’s main restaurant and lobby bar/lounge which featured great city views.
Check-in was a breeze since our paperwork and room keys were already waiting for us and even as a lowly Hilton Gold, we were upgraded to an Executive room on the 37th floor. While Hilton Gold status may not mean much in the US and Europe, I’ve found that it’s almost always delivered when traveling in Asia. We were escorted up to our room by the same hotel attendant that greeted us downstairs.
The hotel decor was typical Conrad which I’d describe as sleek and modern.
The room was essentially a carbon copy of our room at the Conrad Hong Kong. It featured stylish yet elegant decor, along with all the technological bells and whistles such as electronic curtains, iPod-compatible stereo, and a work desk equipped with plenty of electrical outlets.
Waiting for us on the bed were a couple of stuffed animals that we could add to our collection. We were less than 24 hours into the trip, and our stuffed animal count was already at 4, counting the Singapore Airlines bears we had received on our flight.
Also on the bed were pajama shirts which is something I hadn’t seen before. I tried it on just for fun, but the material was too thick for my liking.
There was a huge double day-bed along the window, and a welcome gift of chocolates and pralines on the coffee table.
The bathroom featured double vanities, bath tub, and separate bathroom and shower stalls. I was too intimidated to use all the functions of the Japanese toilet at first, but by the end of the trip I had learned to love it.
With Aromatherapy Associates-branded toiletries, and a new duck to also add to our collection. At this point, I had more stuffed animals in my luggage than clothes.
We immediately took advantage of the Executive Lounge access and ran over to catch the tail end of cocktail hour. The lounge is on the smaller side, but featured nice city views and had a sexy fireplace in the center of the room
The spread was fine, although more on the sweet side than I’d prefer. I wouldn’t plan on making a meal out of this and besides, you’re in Japan! So you shouldn’t be taking up precious stomach capacity with cakes and finger sandwiches anyways.
OK, a couple bites never hurt anyone.
We entertained the idea of heading out for some late-night fun, but I essentially pulled an all-niter by not sleeping on the plane, so my enthusiasm was short lived and ended up passing out mid-sentence during that conversation. We did make plans to wake up early at the buttcrack of dawn to head over to Tsukiji Fish Market, but alas, a 4AM awakening was just too ambitious.
We ended up sleeping in until about 6AM, and I threw on my typical jet-lagged-hotel-breakfast-attire which consisted of a t-shirt, basketball shorts, and flip flops and headed downstairs to the restaurant. Talk about being under-dressed. I quickly learned that men in Japan really don’t wear shorts, like at all, and certainly not any footwear without socks.
The breakfast buffet contained a delicious mix of Western and Japanese options and most importantly, fresh fruit and veggies which were generally tough (and expensive) to find in Japan.
The highlight for me was the sticky rice in the bottom-left corner below which was absolutely delicious. Other than smoked salmon, fish isn’t exactly the first thing on my mind at breakfast time, but there were no less than 4-5 different fish options at the buffet and of course I had to try them all.
In addition to the buffet, there was an a la carte menu with a wide range of choices. The first day we tried the Croque Madame Conrad which was freakin’ amazing, and the next day we both ordered the Japanese breakfast. Across the 4 hotels we stayed at on this trip, the Conrad had the best breakfast of them all.
The first breakfast buffet after starting a vacation is always the worst, and I probably ate about 3 plates more than I should have. Feeling guilty, we stopped by to take a look at the fitness center facilities since watching people work out is basically the same as working out, in my opinion.
The hotel has an indoor pool that overlooks the city, and in general, we found the hotel swimming pools in Japan to be quite impressive. Another cool feature was that the hotel provided complimentary swimming gear and gym clothes. Even though we had packed our own stuff, it’s nice not having to carry your used, sweaty gym clothes in your luggage.
Another item that we found in every hotel gym we visited – we probably should have measured our blood pressure before stuffing ourselves with eggs and bacon.
On the final morning of our stay, we were departing for Haneda airport and chose to take the limousine bus which conveniently picks you up at the hotel. We had some time to kill, and wandered over wedding chapel where there seemed to be some wedding dress showcase.
The bus ended up being just 1/3 full and was a comfortable 45-minute ride to the airport.
Overall, we had a great stay at the Conrad Tokyo and are happy to add this to the list of Conrads where we walked away as satisfied customers.