With three properties across Tokyo it’s safe to say that, as far as high-end accommodation goes, the InterContinental brand is a dominant force in one of the world’s most famously vibrant cities. All three have had their fair share of awards and nominations, no less The Strings by InterContinental Tokyo which is positioned a stone’s throw from Shinagawa Station. Anchored in the chaotic surrounds of a major business district while defining the property as a peaceful oasis presents quite a challenge but, occupying the top seven floors of a skyscraper accessible from the station (Konan exit) via a pedestrian bridge, Strings is to be more than capable of providing the kind of calm, quiet and class that may seem surprising to some, given how endlessly busy Shinagawa is.
The fact that they have three different jazz sessions every Friday night (8:20pm, 9:20pm and 10:20pm) in the central 26th floor atrium, which is where reception is, speaks to a push in a much more playful direction than one would expect from the location. This is in addition to the recently built Bubbles Bar which sits opposite the main restaurant (The Dining Room), positioned on a see-through floor over a small pond, that which spills underneath a futuristic bridge. The open-plan atrium is very much styled as an indoor garden, adding stunning theatrics to the whole check-in process and offering a central area for guests to mingle.
At 206 rooms, The Strings is certainly the smaller of the InterContinental properties in Tokyo (by means of comparison, ANA InterContinental Tokyo in Minato has 844). Though it’s sense of intimacy certainly benefits from the smaller scale, and it’s calm centre echoes the type of relaxed atmosphere one would often find in a hotel’s exclusive Club Lounge.
The convenience of the location cannot be overstated here. Having such a major station nearby offers the best network for those looking to travel across and outside of Tokyo, and if you’re spending more a few nights in the city without taking a day trip to the likes of Nikko, Yokohama or Hakone then you’re missing some of the greatest experiences in the country. Luckily the Shinkansen bullet train heads through Shinagawa station, as does one of the lines most frequented by tourists: the JR Yamanote line. There’s also the very close proximity to Haneda airport and the easy access, via limo bus or rail, to Narita.
Then you’ve got the dining, and though Shinagawa is nowhere near as exciting as somewhere like Shibuya or Shinjuku, The Strings is very close to some of the best. For the expensive palates there’s Quintessence, the famous Michelin 3-star Japanese-French restaurant, or for low-cost and reliable there’s Ramen Fujin opposite the station (west side) with excellent ramen and gyozo well into the night. You’ve also got access to the modest retail options in the station, including an Atré shopping mall.
Having the lobby on the 26th floor does give you some grand perspectives of Tokyo, one of which defines the stylish, light-filled 24-hour fitness centre, which is located nearby the lobby. Tall glass windows all around offer a beautiful panoramic of the city, smartly utilised so all cardio machines face the inspiring vista.
The Dining Room is where you will find the generous breakfast buffet each morning. Being a restaurant that balances Asian with European dining, the breakfast is very much a comprehensive blend, leaning neither towards Western or local palates but finding a nice middle with a wide range complemented by a la carte options. Afternoon tea packages are available by day, but come 10pm The Dining Room becomes this alluring cocktail bar that, again, echoes the hotel’s defining trait of tranquility, an atmosphere helped along by flickering candlelight mirrored in the crystal clear pond.
Though my personal favourite would be the opposite Bubbles Bar, a decidedly darker space but beautifully designed with seating both at the bar and spread across a small area, all well lit with displays of empty Champagne bottles. This is a champagne bar through and through but there’s also a nice, small selection of up-scale bar snacks whiskies and signature cocktails. One such signature cocktail is “The Pop of Blue” which (as you can see below) looks a bit like a lava lamp. It gets it’s incredibly smooth and silky flavour from a balance of tequila, apple juice and sparkling sake; the kicker is that there’s plenty of pop rocks floating around inside, giving the palate an interesting and lively texture while the beautifully balanced – and generous – pour goes down a treat.
Bubbles Bar is also worthwhile for the bar snacks. The “Truffle Spring Roll Stick” is incredible and quite large, while the “Lollipop Appetizers” are a unique and inventive pairing with your drink of choice. They’re small bites sitting upright on the edge of individual skewers, with very interesting flavours like foie gras & cherry, or apricot & gorgonzola. It’s the perfect experience if you time it for a relaxed Friday evening, when those aforementioned Jazz performances gently change the atmosphere to something livelier.
A pricier but awarded traditional Chinese restaurant named China Shadow sits as the hotel’s more up-scale dining option, it’s beautiful space making full use of the impressive Tokyo views.
To get to the rooms, simply ride an all-glass elevator between levels 27 and 32. This is where all the guestrooms are located, and if you’ve got the cash I would highly suggest grabbing a Premier. The view from here is exceptional, and with Tokyo Tower in the vista – looking like a golden beacon at night – it’s as enviable as the hotel’s location. Either a comfortable king or two doubles feature across a 35-40 square metre space accented with notes of wood and beige, where the main features are an enormous walk-in wardrobe, elegant working desk (right next to the window of course) and a good amount of connectivity. A nice little detail is that the included electrical sockets nearby the bed are international adapters, a very considered approach to the technology side of the room which also extends to a loud-enough Bose bluetooth speaker and the expected high-speed WiFi.
The bathroom is quite spacious as well. A separate tub and rain shower sit behind a glass door while there’s plenty of room around the basin and nearby bidet toilet. It’s as you’d expect from a luxury hotel, pushing away from the characteristically cramped mid-range that Japan is notorious amongst foreigners for. While traditional accents float through the hotel and it’s rooms, this is very much a place built to ease tourists and business travelers into the often overwhelming sensory experience that is Tokyo.
It’s clear why The Strings is one of the top picks for higher-range Tokyo hotels. The location may be off-putting to the more party-going tourists at first, but having all that access at your doorstep really does prove to be essential and incredibly efficient. This combined with the light, dulcet tones plucked from The Strings should easily make for an excellent stay.
Bookings are available from around $380 AUD per night. A night in a Premier room is priced from around $550 AUD per night.
The Strings by InterContinental Tokyo
Address: Shinagawa East One Tower; 2-16-1 Konan, Minato-ku, Tokyo 108-8282 Japan
Contact: +81 3-5783-1111
Feature images supplied.
The writer stayed one night as a guest of The Strings by InterContinental Tokyo.