Have you ever seen that movie Lost In Translation? It’s set in vibrant Tokyo and features a swanky 5-star hotel in Shibuya. The standout feature of the hotel is its top floor bar with breathtaking views of the city. Not to mention – if the film is anything to go by – it’s the place to fall into a quiet romance, and befriend Bill Murray or Scarlet Johansen. However, that rather famous hotel is one of the most expensive in the city. While central, popular Shibuya doesn’t quite capture the mix of traditional & new that is Tokyo’s heart.
Enter THE GATE HOTEL KARINARIMON
This boutique hotel offers its visitors comfort, style, and gorgeous design – not to mention amazing views – without the price tag of 5-star competitors. Located in beautiful Asakusa on the doorstep of Kaminarimon, the grand entrance gates to Senso-Ji Temple. The hotel is just minutes walk from Asakusa Station, with direct trains from both Narita and Haneda Airports.
It Has a Baller Lobby
The reception lobby is located on the 15th floor – unlike most hotels – and is STUNNING. An enormous chandelier immediately grabs your attention, pointing you towards panoramic glass windows. These frame gorgeous sweeping views of the Asakusa area and Senso-Ji Temple, with Tokyo Skytree taking pride of place. It’s the kind of lobby that makes you want to
have to wait for your room so you can take in the scene from one of the perfectly placed couches. The extremely friendly and helpful concierge speak perfect English, which makes things easy if your Japanese isn’t the best…or you know…existent.
And Luxe Rooms
The gorgeous-yet-cozy rooms are immediately relaxing, furnished in dark, moody colors with warm lighting. In them, you’ll find a Nespresso machine, free wifi and comfy two-piece pajamas unique to THE GATE. In addition to regular hotel fare like a desk, stationary, mini fridge and TV. Bathrooms are modern and well appointed, including the must-have Japanese washlet toilet, decked out with all the mod cons. A rain-style shower head – though slightly undersized – is a welcome addition, as is the good water pressure. And premium bathroom amenities come from an all-natural Japanese cosmetics brand. Overall, design and use of space are incredibly clever in the smaller rooms, making them a tranquil retreat from hectic Tokyo.
THE GATE’s boutique good looks come courtesy of one of Japan’s leading designers, Shigeru Uchida. He also designed packaging for the hotel’s original products, which include – among other things – scent sticks. See, upon entering your beautifully appointed room, you’re greeted by a delicate and intoxicating scent. They even leave a bottle of the stuff out so you can spritz till your heart’s content. I can’t describe the scent of this linen spray, other than to say it was heavenly. Which makes the sticks a good reminder of your stay.
There are 6 different room types at the hotel, I stayed in a basic ‘Modest’ room and was very happy. Though many of the other room styles have city views, this one does not. That wasn’t a problem though, because…
Eat, Drink and FEAST (on VIEWS of course)
While the hotel doesn’t have room service, it does have a restaurant and bar – appropriately named R Restaurant and Bar – which is open 24hrs for hotel guests. Here you can get a breathtaking up-close view of Tokyo Skytree from seating at the bar counter, tables, or on the terrace. If you aren’t staying at the hotel but want to check it out, R Restaurant and Bar is open to non-guests from 6:30am-12am. And you can catch a live jazz band there at the end of every month!
It’s worth mentioning breakfast. 2160 JPY gets you a choice of fusion-style main – their curry eggs benedict are a favorite – and use of the buffet station with cereal, fruit, etc.
My absolute favorite part of the hotel though? Head upstairs to B Bar – exclusive to guests – for a more intimate atmosphere. Take a moment, relax in the 11-seat bar, enjoy a chat with your bartender and select from a fantastic choice of cocktails. Then level up your stay, by heading out onto the gorgeous roof terrace – day or night – to take in the city and fabulous views of Asakusa against the backdrop of Tokyo Skytree.
Should You Stay?
Friends, couples or solo travelers should absolutely consider staying at THE GATE HOTEL. While it’s not the cheapest option for a long visit – rooms start at around 16,632 JPY – I’d recommend it as a splurge. It’s also a great option on the first or last day of a trip, so you can settle from a flight into Japan, or are refreshed for a flight out. I especially recommend this hotel if you’re a creative person. Opportunities for amazing and unique photos are aplenty. There are some phenomenal pieces of art in the lobby and restaurant, which were curated by professor Katsuhiko Hibino from Tokyo University’s Faculty of Art. And interior-loving design nerds will appreciate how the entire hotel’s boutique design – from the ground floor entrance hall, to lobby, rooms, and even the hallways – had great thought put into it. Finally, foodies, culture vultures, and history buffs will really enjoy being based in the Asakusa area.
Asakusa is a vibrant district where locals and tourists alike mingle in the organized chaos of Tokyo life. Charmingly frayed at the edges, it’s equal parts tradition and present, and great if you’re looking for a taste of old Tokyo. You can’t go past the eateries and bars with makeshift alfresco areas consisting of tiny stools and tables. Grab some yakitori, sip on a glass of sochu, or slurp up a bowl of ramen like a regular. There’s also delicious street food; fried cherry blossom mantou bun anyone? Or you can shop up a storm at Nakamise Dori. This market shopping street lines the way to Senso-Ji and is where you can buy traditional crafts, souvenirs, and snacks. Finally, the crowning jewel of Asakusa is Senso-Ji, the oldest Buddhist temple in the city. Take in the five-story pagoda, waft some incense over yourself for good health, and bask in the beauty of the temple. Don’t forget to look up!
So What’s the Verdict?
Great views from THE GATE HOTEL KARINARIMON’s lobby, restaurant, bars and terrace – and rooms if you’re lucky – render the expensive 5-star hotel I mentioned at the beginning of this post a waste of money. Why? Well, while THE GATE certainly isn’t what you’d call budget accommodation, it is for sure budget luxury. Its cinema-worthy good looks certainly seduced me enough to want to come back, and I normally stay in hostels.
THE GATE HOTEL KARINARIMON is a slice of tranquility in Tokyo. It gives you the feeling that maybe, on some fortuitous night, one really could fall into a quiet romance. Or befriend Scarlett Johansen and Bill Murray at the bar. You know. The usual.
I give my wonderful stay a 5/5
About Amelia (The Beat Of Adventure):
Amelia is an Australian graphic designer & printer by day. And travel blogger by night. A tea enthusiast, Harry Potter nerd, and all-around creative, she started The Beat of Adventure to inspire others with creative passions to explore the world and live their best life to the beat of their own drum. She’s been traveling yearly since 2013 with ten countries under her belt so far. Check out thebeatofadventure.com for more creative travel content.
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