[Tokyo] Review: HOSHINOYA Tokyo - Luxurious Ryokan in the City

I was back in Japan for one last trip this year and what better way to commence that than with a marvelous stay at HOSHINOYA Tokyo - a luxurious ryokan in the heart of the capital! Usually ryokans (traditional Japanese inns) are found in the more rural parts of Japan so it's a rare treat to be able to experience that right in the city. With 17 floors and 84 rooms, the hotel is a perfect embodiment of traditional Japanese architecture and contemporary design. The building looked understated on the outside - even the entrance was hard to find at first - but once we stepped inside, we felt like we were whisked away to another world. The enormous genkan entrance was immediately captivating and like most ryokans, we were asked to take off our shoes which were then stored in bamboo lockers lining the hallway. At the end of the entrance is a beautiful ikebana display which changes seasonally. After admiring the details, we were escorted up directly to our room by a staff member to complete the check-in process.


Each floor contains 6 rooms and is only accessible to guests staying on that floor. There are three room types at the hotel - Kiku (Executive Triple), Yuri (Deluxe King) and Sakura (Deluxe Twin). We stayed in a Kiku which are corner rooms that are twice as large as the other room types. Our room was spacious with a living room, dining table, work desk, sofa and walk-in closet. The bed is tatami-style and therefore closer to the floor than western style; the futons and sheets were so comfortable, it was like sleeping on clouds!

Smart controls for the lights and window screens are located on the bed stands, but I couldn't find any USB sockets for phone charging in the room though.

All the windows are hidden behind shoji screens which can be opened to reveal the metal lattice encasing the entire building; the pattern is based on a traditional Japanese kimono design and is especially beautiful when the sunlight hits the paper screens and casts intricate shadows into the room.

The wide sofa faces the TV which is cleverly hidden in the opposite wall.

The bathroom features dual vanity sinks, a standing shower and a deep bathtub for soaking your worries away.

A set of his and hers kimono can be found in the walk-in closet where guests can wear them throughout the entire hotel if they wish to do so.


Every floor has a Ochonoma - a communal lounge with a wide selection of complimentary refreshments for guests to enjoy at any time. The snacks will change depending on the time of day and guests are encouraged to use the space as their own living room.

One of the biggest draw of the hotel is the onsen (hot spring) located on the top floor. Fed by hot spring waters drawn from 1,500 meters below the ground, each communal onsen (separated by gender) contains an indoor and outdoor bath where the outdoor portion is located under an open skylight with a full view of the sky. Spa treatments are offered on the same floor as well.


Most of the activities offered at the hotel take place on the 2nd floor Reception / Lounge area. Some are complimentary while others require advance booking and fee.

The complimentary Sake Lounge is opened everyday from 5pm to 7pm with a few Japanese wines and sake for tasting along with simple snacks.

Also happening at the same time is the Grand Kagura performance where we watched an entertaining Japanese juggling show and even got to try juggling a ball on an umbrella ourselves!

One of the paid activities we experienced during our stay is the Japanese Tea Ceremony which is held daily at the hotel. Beyond just drinking tea, the ceremony allows the guests to get a sense of Japanese culture and hospitality. The featured tea bowls and whisks have been created exclusively for the hotel by an artist and participating guests are allowed to keep them afterwards. Other exciting activities offered include an Evening River Cruise, Rickshaw Tour, Helicopter Cruise and more.


I was most excited to try the "Nippon Cuisine" dinner at HOSHINOYA Tokyo with Executive Chef Noriyuki Hamada at the helm. He was the youngest winner of the Bocuse d'Or Japan competition in 2004 and went on to win Bronze at the 2013 Bocuse d'Or finale. The cuisine is French with seasonal Japanese ingredients - with a focus especially on fish. With only 10 tables, the restaurant is only open to hotel guests and after the impressive dinner, I want to say it's worth it to stay at the hotel just to try the food by Chef Hamada.

Each of the 10 tables are located in a private room or a semi-private area. Advance reservations is highly encouraged due to the limited number of seats.

We started the meal with a few amuse bouche - crackers made from fish bones and fried shirako from cod fish.

The first course arrived in a dramatic fashion as a paper lantern which was then flattened to reveal the Ankimo (monkfish liver) with kumquat and yuzu meringue inside.

The second dish is the chef's signature dish named Five Flavors of Delight where each dish represents one of the five flavors of Japanese cuisine - sourness, saltiness, bitterness, spiciness and sweetness. Sourness is represented by kohada (Japanese shad fish) wrapped with cucumber and radish. Saltiness is Russian borscht soup with mekajiki (swordfish), sour cream and beetroot. Bitterness is chestnut water with shijimi clam croquette covered with jasmine powder. Spiciness is shrimp sausage with carrot and vegetables topped with tobiko (flying fish roe). Sweetness is chestnut with herring fish and port wine. The five bites also represent French cooking techniques and can be enjoyed as a French course with appetizer, soup, fish, main and dessert.

The third course is Kinmedai with horse meat tartare, pickled turnip, daikon and wasabi. Not only did the ingredients work beautifully together, the plating was also impressive especially when we unfurled the daikon to reveal a row of pressed edible flowers.

Next up was the Kobako-gani (female snow crab) with uchiko (crab eggs), mushroom and rice flakes which was the chef's rendition of chawanmushi (Japanese egg custard).

The fifth course was the Lily Bulb with Japanese yurine from Hokkaido, brown butter and bearnaise sauce. It was my first time seeing a lily bulb this big in size and the texture was almost like a potato.

The main dish was the Cold Smoked Sawara with watercress, chicken sauce and yuzu salt presented in the shape of the Hoshinoya symbol.

My absolute favorite of the meal was the Soup de Poisson made with the head and neck of cod fish plus curry spices. We were presented with a bowl of the soothing soup first and then followed with Yukiwakamaru rice from Yamagata to be eaten together.

The first dessert was a refreshing Basil Sorbet with mandarin and shiso flowers.

Followed by the Strawberry Powder Mousse with condensed milk, crumble and ginger ice cream where we had fun cracking open the sugar candy ball.

Finally ending our meal with a series of colorful Petit Fours and matcha tea.

While the ochanoma lounge provides complimentary rice balls and miso soup for breakfast, we opted for the full breakfast served in-room instead. We had the choice of Japanese or Western breakfast so we got one of each. The Japanese breakfast came with grilled fish, four small dishes, salad, rice, miso soup and green tea while the Western breakfast consisted of an omelette, bread, salad and dessert with coffee and choice of juice. What a great way to start our day!

Thank you to the team at HOSHINOYA Tokyo for the wonderful stay and hospitality - all of the staff were friendly and spoke English very well. I cannot wait to explore the other properties of HOSHINOYA - especially the one in Fuji which is a glamping resort!

*By Invitation


1 Chome-9-1 Ōtemachi, Chiyoda City, Tokyo 100-0004, Japan
Tel: +81 3 6214 5151

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