Popupla creative director Crystal Meers is not the first girl to fall for the luxury hotel in the heart of Shinjuku. And she certainly won't be the last. A love letter.
TOKYO – I miss the . Is that weird?
I know I only spent 20 hours there, and I was asleep for five of them, but I really made every moment count.
Now, it's fair to say I was in rough shape when I checked in. The few days I'd spent in surface-of-the-sun hot Shanghai had left my nerves fried, my patience shot, and my concept of personal space completely shattered. I needed cozy. And for no one to judge me by my way-too-comfortable traveling sweatpants.
It's like everyone knew I had had an excruciating, unnecessarily long day of planes, trains, taxis, a minivan — the whole congested, delayed nine yards. (See: traveling sweatpants.) What I needed was a contemporary zen-den with a sweeping view of the Tokyo skyline and a tub in which I could soak the stress away while citrusy Aesop beauty products brought me back to life so that I could go to and enjoy myself. (Which I did, right after a quick pitstop at , thank you very much.)
The hotel room itself is full of surprises. I'm not just talking about the most thoughtful assortment of bathroom amenities that I have seen. (Headbands?! That might have been a first.) It was like around every corner, inside every drawer, and stashed away in the mini bar was a delightful only-in-Tokyo treat. How about a little free-form jazz? Oh, there are some Japanese CDs in that basket under the TV. What about a fresh juice? Well, look at that: The bar is stocked with a variety made earlier that day. Maybe someone would like to put on some Japanese easy listening and drink juice while wearing a traditional, summery robe that's tucked away in the walk-in closet? Yes, maybe that someone is me.
Of course, kaiseki at is one of the prettiest meals I have ever seen. But it's important that I mention breakfast at even though I totally understand this is the sort of thing that happens a lot (technically every morning). Sitting in that beautiful room, where the tables have just enough privacy to ensure no one will spoil your coffee and newspaper time, but are also close enough to each other so the chatter and clicking china acclimates you to the new day. Calling that beautiful breakfast spread a buffet is like describing the is pretty tall: a total undersell. And the Healthy Breakfast set menu? It's so current. Chia seeds, fresh fruit and veg juices and smoothies, avocado toast: They gave it their all. And I want to give them a medal. Right after I help myself to seconds.
One thing that still has me stumped is how on earth they knew that I was leaving at exactly 11:40 a.m. the next day. No, seriously. I mean, I know I chit-chatted with the concierge about how long it would take to get to Tokyo station to catch my bullet train to the country and whether or not I should take the shuttle or a cab, or just try to roll on down the hill to the train station on my own. But I barely remembered having these conversations at check-in, so how could they?
Anyway, I don't know how they did it, but I am forever grateful they did. When I came downstairs, so sad to leave, the staff accompanied me to what I thought was going to be a mini bus. Only it turned out some angel had scheduled one of the hotel's courtesy cars to take me straight to Tokyo Station. It brought tears to my eyes. (Yes, a little of this was because I'd woken up at 5:30 a.m. in order to squeeze in the hot tub and sauna spa at 6 a.m., and wound up reading Japanese Vogue and sipping green tea in the ladies lounge until it was time for brekkie, and I was also seriously jetlagged, but still. The emotions were real.).
Even with all the good times, I need to go back. Like, immediately. I dream of my next trip when I get to swim lazy laps in the pool, explore the Delicatessen and Pastry Boutique, and spend some quality time leafing through the pages of the vintage books that line the library hall. I hope check-out never comes.
3-7-1-2 Nishi Shinjuku
Shinjuku-Ku, Tokyo, Japan 163-1055