Yes, I really do think that title is justified -- this hotel has now replaced my previous choice for that title (The Yokohama Royal Park Hotel, the Landmark Tower, in Yokohama) which I like for the same reasons as I do The Cerulean, this hotel manages to do it even better.
Okay, I'd better justify that high praise so, from the top...
This is of course a luxury hotel so at the very least, it has to do the essential things properly. And so it does. The building exterior is smart and modern, the entrances and lobbyies spacious and elegantly decorated with clear signposting and a logical, intuitive guest journey through check in and onto your room. The rooms themselves (I stated in the slightly larger rooms on the 30th+ floor but I don't doubt that this is true for all rooms) are very good with a stylish, neutral decor and an understated opulence. There standards of maintenance and cleaning are excellent too, as are the in-room facilities. The free WiFi is very easy to set up and extremely fast. The air conditioning is quiet and effective.
The hotel is very well located a short walk from Shibuya station. By the way, If you're not familiar with Tokyo, I'd always recommend that you find a hotel adjacent to a station on the Yamanote line (as is Shibuya) at whatever price point you are interested in. 80% of Tokyo can be reached from the Yamanote line with just one change and 90+% with two changes so really will help with your travel arrangements. Connecting with the Yamanote is what all other metro stations like to do ideally so being near the line is so much more convenient. Just my tip, hope it helps.
What Makes Good into Superb
Having established this hotel gets the basics right (even allowing for price and the fact that this is of course Japan we're talking about here so you'd expect everything to "just work") what did it do to a) surprise and delight in ways you didn't expect and b) differentiate itself from the huge competition in the central Tokyo upscale hotel market ? Well, let's start with what I said about location. Shibuya is an exciting and vibrant district which is great fun to visit but you probably wouldn't want to live there. So what you'd really like in a hotel is to feel that when you enter it, suddenly the noise and chaos of the hussle and bussel of the outside world has magically disappeared. The Cerulean manages to do that. The building lacks the drama and verve of the Shinjuku Park Tower's Hyatt Hotel but instead has a restrained opulence and quiet understated feel of a London private club. But it isn't stuffy or pretentious.Not being any sort of foodie, I didn't visit the showcase restaurants so if you're the foodie type I'm sorry that I can't help -- but I did go to the informal cafes on the ground floor and use room service which if the main restaurants match the standard of these, you shouldn't be disappointed. What really sets this hotel apart though is the staff. And this is the hardest things to get right. Too much drilling and rote learning means you've got curteous automatons rather than warm and friendly human beings. The staff at this hotel are nothing short of a delight. Polite and professional, of course, but there's a rare quality of seemingly genuine charm that pervades the entire team and lifts the atmosphere of the whole place. You can't put your finger on it, but you know when it is there or when it isn't. The lobby clark guy who made sense of my complicated reservation. The room service lady who made sure that everything was perfect. The endlessly patient woman at the porter's desk who politely and flawlessly sorted out when I left my room card in the room (and didn't mind at all me having the temerity to say that she might have inadvertently kept it when I reserved a limousine bus to the airport when in fact I'd mistakenly locked myself out of my room -- and in the process turned what could have been a toe curlingly embarrassing incident for me into an enjoyable whizz up and down in the lifts, turning the room upside down to find the key card and, all-in-all probably the high point of my stay. The ability to do that is little short of magical.
It isn't always down to how much you're paying. There is a hotel in the Home Coutnies of England (I won't name names but it's where the English national football squad stay) where the is no lack of blingy swank. The staff are neat, scrubbed and polished and will do whatever you ask, but you can feel them assessing your net worth when you enter the building and bigging up the haughty attitude if they don't think you're worthy enough of staying there. And that isn't the only hotel where the management and staff mistake condescension for what is actually required - care for their guests. That comes across in everything about the Cerulean.
Best hotel in Japan? A big claim, but I'll stick to it. No, you can't compare, say, a $1000 a night ryokan with a western style hotel like this and it would be silly to do so. And a $150 a night airport hotel that is quiet, pleasant and restful can seem like Heaven maybe because it is just the right place at the right time. But no, I genuinely think that, this hotel is in a class of its own.
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- Also Known As:
- Cerulean Hotel Tokyu
- Cerulean Tower Tokyu Hotel Shibuya, Tokyo