Review: Kimpton Shinjuku Tokyo, unpretentious luxury close to the action
This box-fresh five-star entrant brings a splash of New York style to downtown Tokyo.
Kimpton Shinjuku Tokyo
Premier Suite King
- Roomy suite with high-quality fit-out
- Friendly vibe
- A little far from the station for walkers
- No dedicated workspaces
- Exceptional restaurant dining
Repeat visitors to Japan’s capital will be familiar with the groundhog-day of Tokyo hotels, where charmless lobbies, narrow corridors and small rooms are often the norm. But, a few blocks from Shinjuku station is a hotel that feels atypical for the city: Kimpton Shinjuku Tokyo.
Open since late 2020, the 151-room IHG hotel is still a relatively fresh addition to the Tokyo skyline, yet even more so for foreign travellers, who have only recently returned to the country after the Japanese government relaxed border restrictions late last year.
More Manhattan than Tokyo in a multitude of ways – all of them good – this boutique newcomer is well worth checking into.
Location & Impressions
Located about 750m west of Shinjuku Station and positioned across the road from the Park Hyatt Tokyo, the Kimpton is situated in a more sedate quarter of Shinjuku.
Though the neighbourhood may be known as a nightlife hub, the Kimpton’s slice of it puts the louder and more boisterous parts of Shinjuku at arm’s length and is comparatively quiet once the sun goes down.
However, this distance is a double-edged sword. If you’re travelling to the hotel by train, the walk from the station is just that little bit too long to be comfortably done on foot – especially if you’re towing plenty of luggage and/or the weather is grim.
If that’s the case, perhaps make the taxi rank at the west-exit concourse your first stop after getting off the train and get one of Tokyo’s helpful cabbies to take you the rest of the way.
But whether you arrive on foot, by cab or by car, the Kimpton’s façade is impressive.
Housed in a bespoke tower on an acute corner block that only opened in 2019, the exterior is styled after the Art Deco skyscrapers of New York City and takes its design cues from structures like the Empire State Building and American Stock Exchange.
It might be small compared to the hulking glass and concrete towers that surround it, but the Kimpton certainly stands out through its architecture
If you’re likely to be spending a fair bit of time sequestered in your room, then the Premier Suite King is arguably the best option.
Feeling more like an apartment than a typical suite, the door from the corridor opens into a spacious living room area with a sizable L-shaped couch and huge wall-mounted TV, flooded with plenty of light thanks to its south-facing aspect.
The minibar is located within an arm’s reach of the couch, and a few steps beyond that puts you into the bedroom where a huge king-size bed faces another wall-mounted flatscreen that’s inset to the wood panels covering each wall.
With 52 sqm of floor space this isn’t on the large size for a hotel suite in Tokyo, however the way the hotel’s architects deployed that footprint makes it feel larger and more apartment-like than the numbers suggest.
The Premier Suite occupies a roughly S-shaped corner of the level, with the lounge area pinched off from the bed area by the position of the walk-in wardrobe, which also creates a mini hallway from the door to the lounge.
Beyond the bed is another smaller lounging space, with a small table and a two-person couch under a west-facing window.
The spacious bathroom with its separate free-standing bath and waterfall shower lies beyond a sliding door next to this mini-lounge, with a Japanese washlet toilet in its own room to the side.
A granite sink and gleaming white enamel tub are presented beautifully, with plenty of room for two to get ready without getting in each other’s way. There are also ample toiletries and amenities discreetly tucked away in the drawers.
Hardwood floors are a great change from the hotel norm of carpet, though a tatami-like mat in the lounge space and a deep-pile rug under the bed add some under-foot softness that’s appreciated.
The wood-panelled walls are also a pleasing alternative to paint or wallpaper, and the quality of cabinetry and stone-topped dark wood minibar (which is well-stocked with artisanal fare) is exceptional.
There are other nice touches: a comfy yukata robe and slippers are hung up right next to the door, inviting you to slip into them and get settled in Japanese-style, while a portable Bluetooth speaker on the nightstand cranks out a surprising level of decibels.
The whole room can be lit entirely from the indirect mood lighting in the ceiling, giving a warm and cosy feel, while there are plenty of lamps throughout to augment the overhead downlights.
However, the best feature by far is the floor-to-ceiling windows which fill the room with daylight and offer a ripper view out over nearby Yoyogi park, through to Shibuya and beyond.
The Kimpton Shinjuku is, like most boutique hotels, geared more toward leisure travellers than those visiting for business – Kimpton’s ‘pets welcome’ policy is clear evidence of that – but it nevertheless makes sense as an executive-level accommodation option.
For one, it’s an easy stroll from Shinjuku’s endless entertainment options, meaning you can stay out as late as you want in Shinjuku and not have to worry about grabbing the last train home.
There’s no work desk in the room and I tried working at the small dining table near the bed but it only offered just enough space for my computer and not much else – and also didn’t have a powerpoint nearby.
Instead, the lounge served as a better workstation once I plugged my computer into the TV via a HDMI cable (never travel without one, folks), with the big couch and coffee table providing plenty of room for documents and gear to be spread out.
Being able to enjoy a gorgeous vista of Tokyo as I worked was also a nice quality-of-life improvement.
In-room WiFi delivered respectable speeds of 46.4Mbps down and 97.54Mbps up.
There are three places to eat within the hotel: the Jones Café on the ground floor for more casual fare, District Brasserie on the second floor for a proper sit-down, and bar 86 up on the 17th floor for drinks and small plates (though drinks are obviously the focus).
Breakfast is a banquet-style affair served at District, and over two days we enjoyed a spread of fresh fruit, eggs benedict, a cheese omelette with sausage and bacon, and a bread basket with several bread and pastry varieties.
The second-floor terrace garden, which is part of District, is a gorgeous place to have breakfast. However those seeking peace and quiet should know that there’s plenty of traffic noise from the main road below.
Breakfast was indeed delicious, but the greatest demonstration of Kimpton’s culinary offerings is to be found at dinner time.
District offers an a la carte menu with plenty of enticing dinnertime meals, but we opted for one of its two banquet options to get a broad idea of what the hotel’s kitchen – headed by Executive Chef Thomas, an Indonesian expat who learned much of his craft in Sydney – is capable of.
From the first appetiser, it’s obvious that the food here is a cut above. The first plate to arrive carried what looked to be a river pebble, or perhaps a piece of rough-hewn black marble.
Biting into it revealed it to be a pillow of wheat with a filling of delicious salmon tartare.
Following it was a pair of meaty Hokkaido scallops with slices of delicately pickled turnip to offset the umami flavours, then the first main of baked Grouper with barley risotto and a tamarind/vanilla butter.
With such rich flavours from all of its elements, the fish main would be difficult to top.
When in Japan it’s always tempting to sample Wagyu beef whenever the opportunity presents itself, and I selected the grilled A5 Wagyu tenderloin for my second main.
It was, as you’d expect, a flavour-packed and expertly-cooked chunk of beef, complemented nicely by Japanese carrots, a potato gratin, truffle sauce and roasted garlic aioli, but to be honest it was outshone by the fish that preceded it.
A muscat cheesecake and mulled wine ice cream chased it all down, capping off one of the tastiest and most creative meals I’ve had in Japan.
Kimpton encourages its guests to be social, and the hotel hosts a daily pre-dinner social hour where everyone is invited to hang out, have a drink and make new friends before their evening kicks off.
Coupled with the hotel’s embrace of pet owners (primarily dogs, though a pet pig has been a guest), the social hours make for a surprisingly fun opportunity.
Keen to kick on? The rooftop bar on the 17th floor provides amazing skyline views, an open-air terrace as well as a speakeasy vibe and Prohibition-era style cocktails for a further touch of Gatsby-esque glam.
Loaner bikes are also available from the hotel’s driveway if you’d like to burn some kilojoules outside of the hotel’s fitness centre.
Walking back toward Shinjuku Station also puts you within reach with all of the fun stuff that the ward has to offer, such as the old-town charm of Omoide Yokocho, the many clubs, bars and eateries of the Kabukicho district, and the ultra-cosy standing bars of Golden Gai.
The insertion of Kimpton’s Manhattan style and attitude into one of the most active and cosmopolitan parts of Tokyo results in the successful fusion of two metropolises.
From the restaurant to the room, Kimpton Shinjuku Tokyo feels rather unique in a city that’s flooded with accommodation - no surprise given the brand’s ethos of delivering unpretentious luxury.
The writer stayed as a guest of IHG Hotels.
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Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards
09 Aug 2016
Total posts 30
Love Tokyo, been multiple time. But, I've never been as overwhelmed as a traveller as my first time trying to naviagte myself in and out of Shinjuku station. Crazy.