Tower plugged into Tokyo’s buzzing vibe
THE cool cat on the drums lets fly with his solo while the rest of the band nod and stroke their goatees. A bow to the left and a bow to the right and a lady in red ascends the stage to sing a peculiarly Japanese version of SmokeGetsin YourEyes.
Welcome to Melody Line, the dark and moody jazz joint at the Prince Park Tower Hotel Tokyo. My room is just a short elevator ride up to the 26th floor, so why not order another whisky and settle in for the late shift?
The Prince Park Tower is the luxurious flagship of the Japanese-owned Prince Hotels group. With 33 storeys, 673 guestrooms, 14 restaurants and lounges, two ballrooms and 14 banquet rooms, it’s one of Tokyo’s grand-scale hotels.
In the heart of the city, in lovely Shiba Park, this is where the action is; it’s a short distance to the shopping and nightlife districts of Ginza and Roppongi.
Tokyo is studded with skyscrapers and fully wired with the latest technology, yet still nature makes its presence felt. There are parks everywhere, beautiful even at night. When darkness falls, the park at the Tokyo Midtown complex in Roppongi becomes an electric meadow, with a field of lights like neon bluebells rippling across the plain.
By night I stroll among Roppongi’s fabulous fashionistas, passing late-night pet shops with $15,000 doggies in the window. By day I do the department stores of Ginza, where a cornucopia of gorgeous leather boots (all on sale; all too small) transports me to new heights of retail giddiness.
Time for a bath to bring me down to earth. In the basement of the Prince Park Tower, a traditional Japanese bath, or onsen , steams with volcanic spring water. But the enormous supersonic, space-age jacuzzi in my bathroom is too good to resist. Then there’s the hi-tech toilet with its warmed seat and auto flush. How many functions can a simple toilet have? But toilets aren’t simple in Japan. Guestrooms are spacious and comfortable and behind the curtains a wall of windows reveals a classic Tokyo panorama. Views take in Tokyo Tower and Odaiba Bay or stretch towards Mt Fuji.
Though I’m on the wrong side of the building for Fuji, I do get a window framing a peach-tinged dawn skyline.
A peek at the sunrise is more than enough; this big bed is so comfortable I’m not going anywhere just yet. The 5am auction at the Tsukiji fish market will have to wait until tomorrow: I’m paying now for those whiskies in the Melody.
Tokyo is the New York of the East, or is New York the Tokyo of the West? This big, buzzing city rivals any for its cosmopolitan vibe. Like New York it’s a city that never sleeps, and not just because of the ridiculous Japanese work ethic.
But for visitors who do sleep, the Prince Park Tower offers a luxurious place to rest your head. Nellie Blundell was a guest of Japan National Tourist Organisation.
All rooms and restaurants are accessed by lifts from the ground floor. Bedtime reading: AfterDark by Haruki Marakumi. Stepping out: For fabulous city views by night, Tokyo Tower is minutes away on foot. Restaurants and bars of Roppongi are nearby, as is the Ginza shopping hub. Brickbats: If you don’t like being steamed like a dumpling under your doona, you could find the heating a bit enthusiastic. The controls are accessible but the rooms take a while to cool. Bouquets: The sweet-tempered service, fabulous views of the city skyline and the basement onsen .