Tokyo’s first skyscraper hotel still stands tall

We stayed at The Keio Plaza Hotel in Tokyo to give you a sneak-peak at what it’s like to stay in a hotel with nearly 1,500 rooms and 15 restaurants in the shadow of the world’s busiest train station.

Keio Plaza Hotel is just a stone's throw away from the busy Sinjuku station. Image credit:

Tokyo is one of the most baffling and exhilarating places you can visit in the world. The buildings crowd in on each other, creating narrow neon-strewn passageways. Japanese kanji announce names of streets and restaurants, bearing no resemblance to the English in your guidebook, and everywhere video screens, flashing lights, and posters advertise products you’ve never heard of.

The district seemingly at the center of this swirl is Shinjuku, where karaoke bars, restaurants, and shops compete for attention. Shinjuku station is the busiest in the world, according to, with 3.6 million people passing through each day. Looming just a stone’s throw away is the Keio Plaza hotel.

A 1970s icon

The Keio Plaza was Japan’s first skyscraper hotel when it was built in 1971 and crowds flocked to the upper floors to get the first bird’s eye view of Tokyo. Since then, more than 29 million guests have stayed at the hotel and 36,000 couples have celebrated their weddings.

Of course it is no longer the only skyscraper hotel in the city, but it continues to stay ahead of the game. Last year, in preparation for the 2020 Paralympic Games, they refurbished their 13 barrier-free universal rooms to a very high standard. They also created a Premier Grand floor with it’s own private lounge, allowing discerning business guests to feel removed from the comings and goings of other guests in this 1,435-room hotel.

In many places, the hotel still retains its 1970s features, particularly in the architecture, with chunky pillars and geometric stairwells. Lovers of G-Plan furniture should ask to see their Imperial Suite Room, which still has some of the original furniture that was in place when Muhammad Ali came to stay in 1976.

Brilliant is Keio Plaza's main bar. Image credit: Keio Plaza Hotel
Brilliant is Keio Plaza’s main bar. Image credit: Keio Plaza Hotel

The lobby is huge, with polished marble, chandeliers, and a separate area set aside for a regularly changing display of Japanese art and culture including paintings of Mount Fuji, perhaps, or elaborately embroidered Kabuki costumes. Performing arts lovers should find out when the complimentary live performances are on to get a chance to see some traditional art-forms. There’s an entire floor of shops where you can buy handmade leather goods, fashion, shoes, accessories, and Japanese souvenirs, with a convenience store for those essentials you may have forgotten to pack. At the very top of the hotel on 47th-floor you can hire out a karaoke room to sing over the skyline.

Where to lay your head

There’s a staggering number of rooms in this hotel at varying levels of luxury. The standard rooms, at entry price, are adequate for short stays. They are small by European standards, but not by Japanese; you can walk around the bed and there is a good sized desk, however the bathrooms could do with a refurb.

The Club Room King suite at Keio Plaza Hotel. Image credit: Keio Plaza Hotel
The Club Room King on the Premier Grand floor at Keio Plaza Hotel. Image credit: Keio Plaza Hotel

If you want a real Japanese experience, then opt for the Japanese rooms which have beautiful tatami mats on the floor and a futon, which is laid out each night for sleeping. All rooms come with sleeping kimonos so you can feel part of the Japanese culture even without sleeping on the floor.

However, if you are traveling for business, it is worth paying the extra for the Club rooms on the Premier Grand floors. These rooms on the upper floors are top-notch, with superb views of the city skyline. Expect tubs and showers, an extensive toiletry selection including moisturizers, toothbrushes, hairbrushes, razors, and L’Occitane bath products and large beds with Sealy mattresses made up with 300-thread count Antoinette sheets.

All rooms come with access to the spacious modern club lounge on the 45th floor, where you have all-day access to soft drinks, complimentary afternoon tea, and evening aperitifs. You can also use the meeting room and take breakfast here away from the busy buffets downstairs. Club rooms also get free access to the rooftop pool, which is otherwise charged at JPY2,000.

What’s on your plate?

With 15 restaurants and seven bars to pick from, you could eat in a different place each night of your stay and still not explore them all. You should definitely try the kaiseki cuisine in the traditional Soujuan restaurant. Kaiseki is a traditional multi-course meal, which balances color, texture, and taste. The courses come served on decorative china and lacquerware and there is a ritual slowness to the meal.

A course menu offering at Soujuan. Image credit: Keio Plaza Hotel
A course menu offering at Soujuan. Image credit: Keio Plaza Hotel

Meat-lovers should head to the Korean restaurant, Gokoku-Tei, which serves Korean barbecued wagyu beef. If you want that stunning Tokyo skyline view with your meal then try the Aurora Sky Lounge on the 45th floor, which serves a modern European menu of salads, pasta, pizza, and grilled meats. Elsewhere you can indulge in Chinese food, Italian, French, and several other kinds of Japanese cuisine, including sushi soba noodles, tempura, and teppan-yaki (food cooked on an iron griddle). For breakfast, there’s a choice of two buffet rooms serving a wide range of international breakfast options, or you can opt for a Japanese breakfast of rice and fish.

Pro tips

Turn off your roaming

Leave your phone in airplane mode and pick up the complimentary smartphone from your room which allows you to make local and international calls free of charge and will give you access to data – including your email and maps – while you are out and about.

Get a taste of Japanese culture

You don’t need to plan time-consuming trips out of town to experience Japanese culture during your stay at Keio Plaza. Instead, opt for one of the traditional offerings within the hotel. Learn about the ritual Japanese tea ceremony in a room transformed into a traditional teahouse on the 10th floor, or take an Ikebana flower arranging workshop, where you’ll learn about the beauty of asymmetry.

Learn about the ritual Japanese tea ceremony on the 10th floor of the hotel. Keio Plaza Hotel
Learn about the ritual Japanese tea ceremony on the 10th floor of the hotel. Image credit: Keio Plaza Hotel

The nitty-gritty

A Club Room Premier Grand room starts from JPY 45,000 per room per night, based on double occupancy, including use of the Club Lounge, breakfast, service charges and taxes.

The 45th floor Premier Grand Club Lounge is open 7am – 10pm daily, serving breakfast, beverages and afternoon tea.

Telephone: +81 3 3344 0111


Antonia Windsor

Antonia Windsor is a member of the British Guild of Travel Writers and writes widely for publications such as the Telegraph, The Guardian, The Financial Times, and South China Morning Post.