City Guide Tokyo – Where to Stay – Luxury
The Peninsula Tokyo (with or without kids…)
Mostly, I love travelling with my kids, showing them the world, watching their faces register wonder with each new experience.
Yet you might be mistaken for thinking the opposite – given the spring in my step and smile on my face as I navigate peak hour Tokyo streets during a recent visit, sans kids.
It’s good for the soul – travelling as I did before I was ‘Mum’ – the freedom to go where I like, at a pace I choose. Without senses on constant alert: are the kids safe, fed, provided with adequate rest and bathroom stops?
I see more and notice the little details.
Then there is morning tea at my favourite, The Peninsula Tokyo a luxury hotel. The first few moments feel strange; I’m not counting heads as I sweep through the entrance, shaking my head at the constant pleading for more chocolate from the boutique (as I have on previous visits).
Instead, I’m sitting in the Lobby, coffee in hand – enjoying an adult conversation and learning what is new in Tokyo (and of equal importance, what a Frequent Flyer Hotel General Manager carries in her hand luggage).
The Urban Mum – Interview “Chat with a General Manager” Ms. Sonja Vodusek
I love that I have loads in common with Ms Vodusek – a fellow Australian, keen beach lover and leisure travel ‘junkie’ – although I do wish I had her succession of ‘homes’. Her successful career has meant she has lived overseas for many years, taking over the helm at The Peninsula Tokyo in 2015 after previous roles at The Peninsula Manila and The Peninsula New York.
The Urban Mum: Tell us about your local favourites;
Ms Vodusek: On weekends I enjoy a nice relaxing stroll with my dog Larry in my neighborhood and I like to sit outside at a café called CrissCross located in Omotesando – an all-day café that serves fresh bakeries that can be enjoyed in an open terrace environment.
Not to be missed Tokyo food experience?
Ms. Vodusek: Sushi, tempura and ramen are well-known and popular Japanese dishes, but there are other Japanese comfort food such as okonomiyaki (Japanese-style savory pancakes), tonkatsu (breaded and deep-fried pork cutlet) and yakitori (grilled chicken on skewers), all of which are enjoyed by Japanese locals.
Where in Tokyo should we go with kids?
Ms. Vodusek: The Peninsula Tokyo offers the perfect adventure for children…
Our Pokemon Adventure is an interactive luxury hotel experience exclusively designed for The Peninsula Tokyo by The Pokémon Company. Guests from age five don a Pikachu hat and, equipped with a Poké Ball, set forth on an imaginative hotel-wide quest to seek out Pokémon characters!
We also offer activities that children can enjoy such as visiting a family-run business with a 60-year history making deliciously real-looking wax and plastic samples for the food industry and creating your own faux food of sushi, tempura, and tartlets.
Another fun activity that children enjoy is furin-making. Participants in this programme will visit Shinohara Furin Honpo, a family-owned glass studio established in Tokyo in 1915, where they will make their very own furin wind chime by blowing the glass and painting the bell. A drink and snack and a personalised furin made by the shop are included in this academy.
Best Tokyo shopping secret (shhh I won’t tell)?
Ms. Vodusek: I am always amazed by Japanese artistry and craftsmanship, and one of my favorite streets that I like to walk through in Tokyo is Kotto Dori (Antique Avenue) in the Aoyama district.
A quiet and quaint little street with small antique shops that carry pottery and glassware.
The street also has high-end retail shops, stylish boutiques, cafes, and restaurants. Close by is the Nezu Museum, a beautiful Japanese museum reconstructed by renowned Japanese architect Kengo Kuma. I think there is a little bit of everything that visitors can enjoy.
Tell me about Tokyo, how its culture reflects in The Peninsula Hotel?
Ms. Vodusek: Tokyo is a bustling cosmopolitan city that is sophisticated, safe, very accessible and with high standards for products and services.
The rich history and culture can be appreciated throughout the city where new meets history and tradition; and The Peninsula Tokyo also reflects these Japanese aesthetics. Our hotel is designed by a Japanese designer, Yukio Hashimoto, and the hotel assembles an art collection comprising approximately 1,000 pieces created by more than 85 artists, most of them Japanese.
The Japanese have very high expectations towards the level of products and services and have a sense where excellence and perfection lie in attention to detail. We strive to offer the highest standards of hospitality and luxury.
Japan is a fascinating destination for the majority of my readers; several locations (Tokyo & Kyoto) are popular and well visited. What is a little-known location people should consider for their next Japan holiday?
Ms. Vodusek: There are many attractive destinations in Japan close to Tokyo such as Hakone, Kamakura, and Nikko.
Although visitors need to take a few train rides and hop on a ferry, one place I visited is Naoshima (also on The Urban Mum’s list…), otherwise known as the “art island”, a quaint island off mainland Japan by Okayama. This tiny fishing island is home to renowned architect Tadao Ando’s architecture, world-class museums, and artwork that are exhibited around the island. For travellers who have a love for art and nature, and looking for a unique experience, Naoshima may be a fascinating destination to discover.
Tips for travel packing (what is in your hand luggage)?
Ms. Vodusek: Apart from the basics (passport, iPhone, wallet, etc…) – I cannot travel without my Chanel accessories like my favorite lipstick, powder, and moisturiser. My Apple Mac always travels with me. Also, a must have are my Ricola breath mints.
Thus ended a very satisfying time – a day of exploration, sharing secrets – complete and utter selfish indulgence (I managed to squeeze in some shopping hours in Ginza).
Oh and bathroom stops without being bothered (there was even time to take a selfie)!
Tell me, when did you last indulge yourself?
Have you stayed at The Peninsula Tokyo?