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Japan's hotel for royalty

by VIRGINIA LAU on Jul 23, 2012 in Interiors , Lifestyle
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After a three-year closure, the Palace Hotel Tokyo is back with a contemporary design that reflects both its heritage and its prime location facing the Imperial Palace

In 1961, 5,000 guests from Japan and abroad attended an extravagant party to celebrate the opening of the Palace Hotel in Tokyo. Located at 1-1-1 Marunouchi near the Imperial Palace, it was originally built as the forestry office of the imperial household in 1937, and became the state-run Hotel Teito after World War II. Eventually, Hotel Teito was sold to the private sector and construction of the Palace Hotel began.

The new 450-room hotel was applauded for being ultramodern for its time, while also incorporating classic and traditional aesthetics into its interiors. For the first time on a building of this type, more than 1.6 million Shigaraki-yaki tiles produced in the kilns of Shiga prefecture were used on its walls. The Palace Hotel eventually won the Architectural Industry Association Prize in 1963, for successfully harmonising modern architecture with the Japanese aesthetic. 

However, half a century after its inauguration, what was then ‘modern’ had become old world grandeur. Closed for three years from 2009, Mitsubishi’s architectural design arm MEC Design, interior designers GA Design International and master plasterer Naoki Kusumi worked together in rebuilding the hotel completely from the ground up, and the result of this ¥90 billion (US$1.2 billion) project was unveiled to public two months ago.

The hotel’s location facing the Imperial Palace gardens and moats creates a sense of serenity – and makes for stunning views. At the main entrance, Aji stone walls pay tribute the stonework that lines the imperial moats. Instead of its former 450 rooms, Palace Hotel Tokyo now houses 290 rooms and suites that are up to 255 sq-m, and the 23-storey building also houses only the second Evian Spa outside France, as well as several restaurants by Michelin star chefs.

“The client’s brief was to produce a memorable hotel that honestly reflects its surroundings and heritage,” says Terry McGinnity, managing director of GA Design International. “The intention is for Palace Hotel to become once again a home away from home in Tokyo for its loyal, discerning guests and warmly welcome a new clientele.” 

Read the full story, ‘Built for royalty’, in the August 2012 issue of Perspective magazine! 

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