Elegance exemplified at two Tokyo luxury hotels

The New York Grill at the Park Hyatt Tokyo has captivating views of the city.
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Tokyo is a city of fierce contrasts. Centuries-old temples sit tucked behind hologram billboards, where traditional tea is poured at owl and kitten cafes and couples can steal away for a few hours in a love hotel decorated like a subway car.

But for a city that moves at a lightning-fast pace, fueled by head-turning trends and technology, it's also a city steeped in tradition, where ceremony is comforting and the art of propriety and standards is not lost. 

For travelers looking for traditional Tokyo luxury of the highest standard, these are two hotels that fit the bill.

The restaurant Peter at the Peninsula Tokyo.
The restaurant Peter at the Peninsula Tokyo.

The Peninsula Tokyo

Minimally decorated but far from Spartan, the Peninsula Tokyo is about as refined an experience as it gets. The luxury town car pulls up to the grand entrance of the 24-story hotel in the Marunouchi financial district, fittingly opposite from the Imperial Palace. 

The grand lobby is awash in blond wood and gold, the centerpiece of which is a striking bamboo sculpture depicting a dragon lying on top of the universe. In fact, the hotel has more than 1,000 pieces of art, most of them created by Japanese artists, scattered throughout the property. 

The elevators swoop up to the elegantly understated rooms, with views of the city, the Imperial Palace Gardens and Hibiya Park.

Take advantage of the spa experience in the bathroom: With the touch of a button the bathroom turns into a minispa, complete with lighting and soft music to go along with the deep soaking tub.

A deluxe corner king room at the Peninsula, which is located opposite the Imperial Palace.
A deluxe corner king room at the Peninsula, which is located opposite the Imperial Palace.

Dining at the Peninsula Tokyo is a good example of the transitions of the city, with afternoon tea in the lobby and the traditional art of kaiseki at Kyoto Tsuruya. But diners are in for a dash of contemporary with the hotel's skyscraper options like Peter: The Bar, for its cocktails, and Peter, the adjacent restaurant, for elevated grilled fare. 

As an additional perk, all guests receive a complimentary, chauffeur-driven Mini Cooper Clubman S for three hours every day, which can be used for shopping, sightseeing, transportation to meetings or wherever else the guest might like to go. 

Still, the hotel is within walking distance of many of the highlights of Tokyo, from shopping in Ginza to the sensory-overload experience at the Tsukiji fish market. Most travelers are told to visit the fish market before 6 a.m., when the fishermen come in to sell their daily catches to local restaurants. But even if the early wake-up call is too much to bear, there is plenty to see and do at the fish market "after hours." From 6 a.m. until the late afternoon, vendors around the market are selling all sorts of edibles on the street, from perfect slices of sushi to torched oysters on the half shell and cups and cups of hot and cold sake. 

Through the end of the year, rates for the Peninsula Tokyo start at about $430. 

A deluxe room at the Park Hyatt, which occupies the top 14 floors of a 52-story building.
A deluxe room at the Park Hyatt, which occupies the top 14 floors of a 52-story building.

Park Hyatt Tokyo

Any Bill Murray geek has the Park Hyatt Tokyo on his or her bucket list: It was the setting for his epic dramedy "Lost in Translation." And any Anthony Bourdain aficionado knows that this was his favorite hotel in Japan. I count myself as both, so it was a career highlight for me to snag a stay at this Tokyo legend. 

Perched on the top 14 floors of a 52-story tower, the Park Hyatt Tokyo is legendary for its 360-degree views of the city that are particularly jaw-dropping — including, on a clear day, views of Mount Fuji. 

The hotel is an oasis of elegance in the swirling Shinjuku neighborhood. The lobby opens up to floor-to-ceiling glass windows with expansive views in all directions. Soft, emerald green carpeting leads the way to the elevators, which take guests to the 177 guestrooms, all of which are located above the 41st floor, guaranteeing stunning views.

In addition to the service and amenities, one of the primary reasons to stay at the Park Hyatt Tokyo is its signature New York Bar. Not only does it have live jazz and strong cocktails, but it has some of the most iconic views of Tokyo and was the setting for many of the most memorable scenes in "Lost in Translation."

Guests can also take advantage of Club on the Park, located on the 45th and 47th floors. There are seven treatment rooms, including wet treatment rooms with Vichy showers, facial rooms, nail care rooms, a specialty suite for two, whirlpools, wet and dry saunas, cold plunge pools, a gym and an indoor swimming pool with drinks and light snacks.

The hotel is very close to Shinjuku station, so it's easy to get out and about to explore not only this neighborhood but nearby ones, as well. Guests at the Park Hyatt Tokyo are within easy reach of the Imperial Palace, Asakusa Sensoji Temple, the Meiji Jingu Shrine and the late-night secretive bar and restaurant scene of the Golden Gai district. 

Rates begin at about $520.

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