Inside Hoshinoya Tokyo, past Hinoki Kogei’s woven bamboo shoe lockers, through the futuristic zen reception area- awash in the glow of backlit washi paper-after you’ve accepted your green tea and
settled into your room- a minimalist melange of tatami matting, shoji sliding doors, sleek bentwood chairs and high concept glass bathroom walls that can be darkened for privacy, it’s easy to forget that you are smack in the middle of Tokyo. In contrast to the blockbuster five stars blooming atop office buildings, this is the city’s lone luxury ryokan, it’s 84 rooms and rooftop onsen (thermal hot spring) conceived as a supremely upscale version of the classic, serenity-inducing Japanese inns that pepper the countryside. Explains architect Rie Azuma “this tranquil space is a contrast to Tokyo’s kinetic Otemachi district. Traditional materials, muted lighting and furnishings that encourage floor-level relaxation reflect the Japanese lifestyle.” Even the exterior of the building stands out. Metal lattice overlay forms a decorative “double skin”, both a design feature and nod to Edo period merchants’ custom of camouflaging their wealth from the Samurai. Breakfast is a highlight: kimono -clad staff noiselessly pad into your room bearing tray after tray of umami-forward fish, miso soup, seasoned rice balls and fermented vegetables.
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