Tower plugged into Tokyo’s buzzing vibe

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - News -

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 .

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