Japan is top of my travel list. It has been for a few years, but I’m yet to see the neon-lit skyscrapers of Tokyo, Yayoi Kusama iconic pumpkin on Naoshima Island or the cherry blossom of Hirosaki.
I’ll put my tiny violin away, I have been on holiday, I’ve just yet to explore Japan. So when I heard there was a Japanese-inspired hotel opening in London, I had to know more.
Once the Arch Hotel on Great Cumberland Place, the Prince Akatoki opened this September after an extensive refurbishment to turn the classic London town house hotel into a serene space that embodies the calm, considered, cool energy of Japan. And when I say extensive refurb, I mean this place has gone through some tardis-like transformation. The outside very much still says ‘London’ but the interior screams ‘Japan’.
Walking through the doors, it was the smell that hit me. Pure spa-like indulgence – this was a place that smelt expensive, tasteful and I wanted my home to replicate it. I immediately asked the concierge how they scented the hotel and they kindly printed me out a list of some dozen scents. The speed and casualness that they presented this list – which read like a stock check of an Aromatherapy Associates store – told me I wasn’t the first person to ask.
Smells aside, the interiors are just as impressive. To the left of reception, the most gorgeous seating area – all soft tones, stripped back natural elements, glowing bamboo lanterns and a flickering open fire with flames licking through stone pebbles. I felt like I’d been transported to a luxury boutique hotel in the heart of Kyoto or a seriously chic editorial from the pages of Elle Décor. Warm towels and a glass of sparkling sake accompanied my swift check-in.
The team kindly bumped me up to a suite, much to my delight. Hidden in the basement with not a huge amount of windows, it should have felt dingy and dark. It was anything but. Taking cues from the hotel’s name which means ‘sunrise’ or ‘dawn,’ the room was a mix of peachy, pink tones, bleached out wood and a sprawling white cotton covered bed that sat beneath a sunrise -inspired mural. An invitation to pause, stretch out and fully relax, it is honestly one of the most serene rooms I’ve ever stayed in.
Everything in the rooms at the Prince Akatoki serve a purpose, from the stunning leather chair and foot stool I desperately wanted to pack up and take home to the sweet Japanese tea set they left with fresh bowls of camomile before bed. It was like the room had been through a rigorous School of Marie Kondo screening.
Beyond the floor to ceiling sliding doors was a private (heated) terrace, with a somewhat tongue in cheek mural of a Japanese landscape. Weirdly it kind of worked against the impossibly chic interiors of the suite and, really, what a treat it is to have a private terrace in the middle of Central London – a heated one at that.
Against the 82 light, bright rooms of the hotel is the restaurant, TOKii. Decked out in sexy black panelled walls, dim lighting and cosy banquette seating, the vibe was far more after-hours than mindful retreat and the menu an example of some of Japan’s best-loved dishes, well, in London anyway. From hand rolled sushi to crispy tempura, flame grilled teriyaki skewers to the more decadent wagyu beef and black cod, the food isn’t daring by Japanese standards, but it was delicious. Saying that, the poached nasi pear with hot chocolate sauce dessert was outstanding and one of the best Asian sweets I’ve tried in the capital.
Come morning, I ordered the traditional Japanese breakfast amidst the usual scrambled eggs, full English and avo on toasts. I’d definitely recommend it for a real taste of Japan – a packed tray of rice, tofu omelettes, miso soup and sticky salmon that set me up for the day.
Come bedtime and back in my suite, the team had laid out two beautiful Japanese kimonos on the bed– a nice touch that beats the fluffy slippers and a chocolate on the pillow.
No gimmicks, no naffness, just authentic, thought out design and service, The Prince Akatoki is really changing the landscape of London’s small luxury hotels. It’s a hotel that offers so much more than fluffy bathrobes and a good restaurant, it offers a whole MOT for the mind. It’s impossible to come away from this hotel not feeling brighter, well-rested and with an even stronger hankering to book that 12 hour flight.
The Prince Akatoki London, 50 Great Cumberland Pl, Marble Arch, Marylebone, London W1H 7FD
Rooms from £240 including VAT (low season) and £300 including VAT (high season).
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