Even before guests arrive to the check-in desk on the verdant 31st floor lobby of The Tokyo EDITION, Toranomon, they pass through several sensory indicators that they’ve entered an EDITION hotel. On the ground floor of the 38-story tower—of which the EDITION populates floors 31 to 36—there’s a dedicated pedestrian entrance dressed in pristine black marble. Then, of course, there’s the signature Le Labo scent suffusing the air. By the time guests have ascended into the heart of the hotel, designed by the internationally acclaimed Japanese architect Kengo Kuma, the world below—the Toranomon business district, a vehicle ride through Tokyo, or a transoceanic flight—all seems so far away.
On the calming 31st floor, Kuma’s signature Yamato-bari cladding (of oscillating wooden levels that lend texture to a space) couples with more than 500 plants that Ian Schrager, the legendary hotelier and former Studio 54 founder, helped to place via Zoom while at home in NYC. From the glass walls, uninterrupted views of Tokyo Tower, Shiba Park and the nearby Roppongi neighborhood often command moments of quiet observation. And yet, by night, the Lobby Bar and its constellation of low-lying tables are energized social epicenters set against the glowing Japanese capital city.
The Tokyo EDITION, Toranomon features 206 guest rooms; 22 of which are suites, 15 of which have their own private terrace. Kuma designed these minimal escapes, though anyone who has stayed in an EDITION (or seen a photo of one) will recognize the simple, luxurious design language, the soothing color palette, the luscious faux fur throw (arranged with carefully considered disorder on the bed) and the Le Labo amenities. The view is the most pronounced indicator that this isn’t any other EDITION location.
The Tokyo EDITION, Toranomon—the first EDITION to open in Tokyo, with a second coming to Ginza in 2023—began welcoming guests in October 2020. It was only this October, however, that it has been able to embrace an abundance of global travelers thanks to an ease on regulations for entering Japan. Corresponding with this influx, the Toranomon EDITION’s exhilarating food and beverage outlets are now all fully operational.
Michelin-star chef Tom Aikens—who’s also the partner restaurateur for the EDITION Abu Dhabi—guides the multi-outlet operation, from the luxe specialty restaurant, the Jade Room (with its sprawling outdoor terrace) to the all-day dining venue known as The Blue Room. On the ground floor, the EDITION even has a nightlife venue called Gold Bar. Though an exquisite Japanese menu can be ordered, Aikens developed an innovative international menu for guests.
The pandemic presented its challenges, beginning with a hindrance to early research and development, and yet Aikens knew that he needed to imagine multiple venues for various types of people. “You’re looking at serving local markets and guests, and they’re a mix of business travelers, families, foodies and the cool kids who want to go to the cool place. They all want to eat. Some are less bothered, but others come because they’re seeking out good food.”
Though there is a unifying factor to EDITION design at all 15 properties (with 17 more on the way), food is unique to each location. “The food side is very specific to each hotel,” Aikens says. “You have your own cards to play. The brand will help you in terms of nurturing your concept, but it’s really down to you.” Aikens describes his modern cuisine and his values as a chef as authentic, with integrity. “It’s about being honest and truthful to who you are,” he says.
In advance of the Tornomon EDITION, “We found that restaurants in Tokyo hotels did one of two things: menus that are 100% Japanese and others that are 100% French European,” he explains. “There hasn’t been an amalgamation of the two. So I thought, ‘What if we tie the two together in a way that is respectful of Japanese produce and cooking style?’ It’s not a fusion. I am a European-trained chef. It’s predominantly drawn from that but with Japanese influence. It’s a nice way to show my style of food with Japanese flavoring.”
Tokyo is one of the cities, as a chef, that you dream of going to
To further prepare, Aikens did his own research and cultural immersion. “I am always learning new things, whether that’s working with locals chefs or going out to eat,” he says. “I always make a huge effort to learn about the culture, the city and the country even before I put a foot into it. You need to do your homework—and Tokyo is one of the cities, as a chef, that you dream of going to.”
It’s worth mentioning that not only does Aikens excel at menu development, he also exceeds expectation with regard to desserts. Imagined in partnership with chef Richard McLellan, all desserts we tried were utterly astounding. “With dessert more than any other course, you can play on flavor, texture and temperature,” Aikens tells us. “You can do sweet, salty and sour. You can do freezing or tepid or warm. You can do soft, crumbly, crispy or squiggly.” We tried them all.
Japan is in no short supply of world-class hotels with larger-than-life reputations. And yet the EDITION delivers something unique. Though the high level of hospitality is exactly what visitors will expect, there’s a sophisticated exuberance that comes from setting the latest entry of a chic hotel group among the skyscrapers of Toranomon, Tokyo.
Hero image courtesy of Nikolas Koenig