A few moments walk from the formidable marble archyou will find an unassuming townhouse with signage ‘Prince Akatoki‘. It’s only when you glance to your right at the impressive selection of plaques and honors that you’ll realize the opulent experience that awaits you at this japanese inspired hotel – and boy, be prepared to be impressed. One of the world’s small luxury hotels and boasting a five-star rating in the Forbes Travel Guide, Prince Akatoki is a quiet escape in the heart of our bustling city. Alongside 82 exquisite rooms, the five-star pad also offers the enticing Restaurant TOKii and old fashioned Malt bar and lounge, open to hotel guests and non-guests. We took a tour and here’s what we found.
When you enter the hotel, the first thing that hits you is an alluring aroma: think chamomile, cedarwood, and those kind of tranquil smells. Then, as you walk towards the entrance of the restaurant on the ground floor, a new smell invades you: that of the appetizing dishes which escape from the open kitchen. The atmosphere changes slightly from that of the hotel lobby: at TOKii, there’s upbeat music, dimmer lighting, and a generally livelier feel. The welcoming staff welcomes you with a smile and is ready to take you on a culinary journey of tasty and well-presented dishes.
A big draw at this Japanese restaurant is the private, but not lonely, seating: the space uses dark wood dividers between different tables to give a feeling of privacy, while still being open enough not to feel hidden – and so you can see the delicious plates Japanese cuisine as they make their way to your table. The menu offers a selection of appetizers, skewersside dishes, hot and cold dishes, and Sushi. The focus is on sharing plates at TOKii, and the staff recommend at least about six dishes.
First to arrive was the shrimp tempura, selected from the hot food section. The prawns were big, juicy and soft, wrapped in a satisfying crispy batter. And the ginger sauce it’s served with? The smell and taste were enchanting. Similar to the opposite textures of the shrimp, the buttermilk fried chicken also boasted a crispy coating enveloping soft meat. TOKii also offers a wide selection of sashimi, nigiri and maki rolls, each expertly sliced and prepared in the open kitchen; Given how delicious the shrimp tempura hot dish was, I chose the shrimp tempura for my sushi choice and was not disappointed.
I highly recommend the pork belly skewers, served teriyaki style. The meat, again, is so juicy and well cooked, while the grilled flavor accompanies the delicious sweet sauce. The caramelized black cod is also divine – the flesh of the fish melts in your mouth and the charred sweetness is truly something special. You also won’t be able to hold back corn rice; using chopsticks was the only thing stopping me from quickly putting it in my mouth. For something a little different, rump of lamb is a solid choice; like all the meats served at TOKii, it is tender and flavorful, and the green miso goes very well. All dishes are elegantly presented, and this is even more true with the lamb as the crispy noodles create an eye-catching, almost artistic statement.
Finally, there is a selection of carefully selected desserts. I opted for the chocolate fondant, served with matcha ice cream. Like the rest of the meal, the the flavors worked in harmonyand the silky hot chocolate was a suitably indulgent end to a meal.
At the restaurant, the only drinks available are wine, sake and beer (served in a chilled glass each time); But don’t worry, a whole bar dedicated to signature cocktails awaits you a few steps away…
The malt bar and lounge
Take a short walk down the hall and you’ll find yourself in the intimate Malt Bar and Lounge. The unbridled luxury continues in this space, this time transporting you to an older world type bar. The focal point of the space is the bar itself, supported by a wall of unique spirits, used to create a series of totally tailor-made cocktails.
Now I’ll get to the drinks in a second, but the menu itself is something to savor. It is presented like a real book: the look, the feel, the image of the hero ingredient. Hidden between the pages is a postcard, with specialty cocktails – like the rest of the bespoke cocktails weren’t already impressive enough – themed around their Traveler series. We tried one of these travel-themed cocktails, the Kyoto margarita, and we can vouch for it, it really packs a punch. Not only is the liquor strong, but the salt on the rim is replaced with senchua pepper, giving it a real kick. Other cocktails we highly recommend include the sweet and bubbly Momo (it even comes with a macaron!); the tangy rum-based Yuzo and the refreshing Shiso, accompanied by an edible sweet leaf on the glass.
If you anticipate that all the food and drink will keep you from venturing far from the hotel afterwards, why not treat yourself to a stay at Prince Akatoki? The seductive aromas continue past the restaurant and hotel lobby; every hallway in the building smells divine, including the one leading to the bedrooms. Behind closed doors, the incredible hospitality continues and you honestly won’t miss a thing – and if you do, the staff will be forced to sort it out for you.
Prince Akatoki takes pride in anticipating the needs of guests before they even know it themselves; traditional Japanese hospitality. All the expected five-star amenities are available in the room, and more. There is even a TV in the bath!! Room service orders, however, are placed via the TV in the main room. Another nice touch is the yukata (Japanese bathrobe) available alongside other bathrobes. There are even instructions on how to wear it correctly.
Akatoki means ‘dawn’ and symbolizes a new beginning, which is exactly what the hotel, restaurant and bar aspire to. They bring together spaces for quiet mindfulness, while simultaneously sharing the best of Japanese cuisine, hospitality and style with the rest of the world.