Upon arriving at Narita, I purchased tickets for the airport limousine to the Sheraton Miyako Tokyo which is close to the JR Meguro Station. The journey to the hotel takes around 2 hours and stops at numerous other hotels leaving me to be one of the last travellers to be alighted. The Sheraton in Tokyo is located in a residential enclave, albeit an upper middle class neighbourhood. The surroundings are clean and the lobby is quiet in the afternoon when I arrived, though it can get busy as this hotel is popular amongst tour companies. As a service for guests, the hotel offers complimentary shuttle services to the JR Meguro station and the JR Shinagawa station, but the latter is only for the morning departures until 10am.
There was a separate check-in for elite SPG members though no suite upgrades seemed available as I would stay in this hotel for a second time later in my trip. The receptionist did not mention any Platinum upgrades but I was assigned a room in the high floor facing the gardens, and breakfast coupons were included with the keys. In lieu of a club lounge, the hotel also offers drinks at the lobby lounge at certain times though I did not utilize this perk. Coming from the excellent Sheraton D-Cube in Seoul, the Sheraton Miyako in Tokyo is a bit more like those Sheratons in North America. Basic room providing clean lodging but nothing more. The bathroom was a bit dated, so were the furnitures in the room. It was lacklustre at best but the room rates are amongst the cheapest in town and I will just make do for this one night. In addition, the hotel was only able to provide me a room with 2 beds as the King rooms would mean it would be those of the standard category.
Breakfast is served in the Shisen restaurant in the lobby, and it was a full buffet breakfast though the quality of the offerings leave much to be desired. Again another average breakfast which is more than the usual Sheraton Club offerings in North America, but definitely falling short of the usual expectations in Asia. I was able to get a 4 pm check-out of this property and also store my snowboard bag with the hotel until my next stopover here for my trip to Sapporo.
The highlight of the stay in this hotel has got to be their Japanese garden on site which is nice for an early morning stroll, especially since Tokyo has much milder winter weather than Seoul. The weather was averaging around 9 to 12 degree Celcius during my stay and it was wonderful to walk about in the garden, after experiencing the bitter cold of Seoul. I moved to the Westin Tokyo after one night, and took a short cab ride to the Westin which is located just beside the JR Ebisu station.
The Westin is on a totally different level than the Sheraton. It is definitely grander in every sense. The gleaming skyscraper shows the hotel is built more recently and the marbled lobby creates a more opulent ambience. Initially I was hesitant to stay here due to its gaudy looking photos of European furnitures inside the room. However, this hotel was more convenient for me to get to Yokohama as they have a direct local train service, and I was able to score a Starpicks rate for my stay, making it more affordable.
Checking in at the lobby, I find the staff at the Westin to be far more friendly which could be attributed to their confidence and fluency in speaking English. This meant there was a far more comprehensive overview of the property. However, no upgrades again this time, but the property does have a club lounge and I was given the option to have breakfast in the restaurant at the lobby-level restaurant or the club lounge.
My room was located on the 17th floor, on the same floor as the club lounge so it was convenient to walk to get some refreshments. The rooms at the Westin Tokyo are definitely more spacious and they provided a King bedroom with a dressing table on the side. There was a sofa and armchair with a table by the window, with the work desk and TV on the other end of the wall. It felt more like a Junior Suite than a Executive room so I was definitely pleased with the decision to switch to the Westin from the Sheraton. I liked the Westin so much I wanted to switch my stay when I returned to Tokyo to this property that I searched for availability upon settling down in the room, but didn’t manage to find availability for the date I would return.
Another thumbs up for the Westin would be the nice bathroom which had both a walk-in shower and a bathtub. The layout of the bathroom is similar to the Sheraton on the Park in Sydney and in fact the room size seems similar as well. As I relaxed in my room after a day of sightseeing, I was also able to enjoy the sunset behind the Yebisu Garden Place which my room faces. As I mentioned earlier the Westin is located opposite the JR Ebisu Station. However to get to the station, we need to pass through the Yebisu Garden Place which houses restaurants including a branch of Robuchon’s restaurant in the chateau. The Yebisu Garden Place used to be home to a brewery, but it is a well developed high-end commercial area today. It is worth spending an hour or two just walking around this area if staying at the Westin Tokyo.
Evening snacks in the club lounge at the Westin was adequate though nothing spectacular. The lounge, however provided a very scenic view of the city of Tokyo and one could really appreciate the size of this metropolis from here. For breakfast, the lounge is perhaps not the best place to head to since it has limited daily selections. Which is why I prefer the lobby restaurant below which offers a very wide selection including a whole area to Japanese congee, pickles and miso soup. Having a local breakfast is something I value in hotel stays as eating the same croissant and eggs over and over can get pretty boring over several weeks of travel, and it was here that the Westin shines compared to the Sheraton in Tokyo.