After four days in Suzhou, we took the high-speed train to Shanghai in order to catch our Japan Airlines business class flight to Tokyo Haneda.
I had originally planned on providing a full review of this flight, but the lighting in the cabin turned out to be a little wonky, and since I’ve already done a review of JAL’s regional business class (albeit a different seat type), I’ll save the next one for another time.
We had four days in Tokyo, and I have to say I felt a little disappointed by the range of hotel options as a Marriott/Starwood loyalist. In my mind I place Tokyo on par with New York and London as one of the world’s foremost global cities, but it doesn’t quite have the same vast selection of luxury or even mid-tier properties as its peers.
Moreover, hotel availability was pretty sparse during peak summer travel season, so properties like the Prince Gallery Tokyo Kioicho and the Marriott Tokyo had already sold out for my dates. I considered splurging on The Ritz-Carlton, but the absence of elite benefits at Ritz-Carlton hotels meant that I couldn’t quite justify the splurge.
In the end, I decided on The Prince Sakura Tower, part of Marriott’s Autograph Collection brand. Because the Marriott Travel Packages were such a good deal at the time, I redeemed a seven-night certificate for the stay despite only needing to stay for four nights – I could use the extra elite qualifying nights anyway.
Nowadays, the Prince Sakura Tower is a Category 6 hotel in the new loyalty program and costs 50,000 Marriott points a night.
The Prince Sakura Tower is located a short walk away from Shinagawa Railway Station, which is relatively close to Haneda Airport via the Keio train line. The Shinagawa district isn’t really close to the major attractions, and is instead more of a local transport hub on the south side of Tokyo. However, Tokyo’s effective rail transport means that you can get to virtually anywhere you need to go by taking the JR Rail from Shinagawa station, so the location didn’t pose much of a challenge either.
From Shinagawa station, take a few steps north, head across the footbridge, and you’ll arrive at the road sloping uphill that brings you to the doorstep of the Prince Sakura Tower. There’s quite a few high-rise hotels clustered in this area all known as “the Prince something something”, so be sure you’ve found the right one.
An unassuming gate welcomes you to the hotel, and you take a few more steps up the hill before arriving at the lobby entrance.
The lobby consists of a large square room designed in a beautiful modern Japanese style, with woodgrain and stone setting the mood.
The check-in staff was kind and efficient, letting us know that my Marriott Gold Elite status entitled us to Executive Lounge access and daily breakfast in the mornings from 6am to 10am. I had previously emailed the hotel to enquire about the chances of a suite upgrade as well, but alas we were told we’d merely been upgraded to a “nice room on a higher floor”.
The elevators are located down a long hallway, and we took it up to the 12th floor, where we had been assigned Room 5210.
While the lobby and public areas of the hotel are quite stunning, the guest room floors are in need of some renovations. Don’t get me wrong, they’re in good condition and aren’t run-down in any way, but the decor just seems to harken back to a bygone era and could certainly use a bit of a refresh.
The numbering convention of the rooms was also a little confusing – Room 5210 on the 12th floor, what’s up with that?
My guess is that this is because the Prince Sakura Tower is almost fully integrated with its neighbouring Prince-branded hotels. There are covered walkways connecting the hotels and they share the green spaces and various amenities, so perhaps the rooms are all numbered so as to not overlap with their neighbours as well.
Anyway, the room was decently spacious, and the understated finishes were appreciated after spending four nights at the extravagant W Suzhou. In keeping with the name of the hotel, the carpet was decorated with an aesthetically pleasing sakura (cherry-blossom) pattern.
The king bed occupied one side of the room, furnished with a simple wood panel backboard.
The far side of the room played host to a set of comfortable chairs and a small table. Jessica and I spent much of our time in the hotel room at this table, snacking on the delicious food that we had bought from the 7/11 right opposite the hotel.
(In my mind, there’s simply no way to avoid overeating when you’re in Japan – even after gorging on incredible food for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, I simply could not resist going to the 7/11 to buy some pre-packaged udon that tasted better than anything I’d ever find back home in Canada.)
The countertop-and-desk combo ran along the opposite side. You’d find in-room amenities such as the minibar, bottled water, a coffee maker, and a tea kit located here. I thought the desk was decent for getting work done, although it could’ve been a little more spacious.
Over to the bathroom. As is commonplace in Japan, the toilet (with bidet of course) is in a separate room from the main bathroom itself. The toilet room is on your left as you enter the room, and includes a small washbasin as well.
Meanwhile, the main bathroom is on your right, and consists of a double sink together with a shower and bathtub. Rather oddly, the bathtub is “sunken” to a lower level than the ground itself.
There was also a small marble countertop in the corner, which was useful for storing toiletries and loose items. I liked the marble accents in the bathroom, although I did notice a few first signs of wear and tear that were beginning to creep in.
Also situated in the foyer was a small closet, as well as a drawer in which pajamas were provided for guests to use. I didn’t get around to using them, but it was nice to know they were there.
One thing that’s worth pointing out about the room is that it could certainly benefit from better lighting. Even with all the lights turned on, the ambience felt a bit dim, which isn’t something that leaves a positive impression.
The room overlooked the huge central green space that’s shared by all the Prince hotels in this area. We were in Tokyo in the middle of the summer heatwave, so the sunshine was naturally exceptional, and we often went down into the gardens for a morning stroll after breakfast before heading out for the day.
We also received turndown service each night, which consisted of a placard with the next day’s weather along with a few chocolates, which is always nice to savour when returning to your hotel room after a long day.
The hotel’s Executive Lounge is located on the ground floor, and eligible hotel guests are given a special keycard to swipe for access.
It’s a rather intimate space with seating for about 50 people. The kitchen and bar area was located at the front of the lounge, and the breakfast and evening food spreads were placed along these surfaces. The seating in this area mostly consisted of high-top tables and chairs.
Meanwhile the seating towards the back of the lounge was more relaxed, and some of the seats in particular enjoyed great views of the gardens outside.
Guests with lounge access can enjoy a small breakfast buffet here in the mornings. There’s also a larger buffet in the Ciliegio restaurant opposite the lounge, although you’d have to pay for that one.
The breakfast buffet consists of a fusion of Western and Japanese items, with a few oddball items thrown in the mix. There was the usual scrambled eggs, sausages, and bacon, but also assorted steamed vegetables and minestrone...
Then there were pastries, cereal, and a charcuterie selection.
My favourite part of the breakfast buffet was the make-your-own-rice-bowl station, where you could combine freshly cooked Japanese rice with a variety of accoutrements, such as nori, cod roe, pickled plum, and dried fish.
The Executive Lounge also offers an evening spread of cheese bites, desserts, and complimentary wine and spirits. The evening service ends at 9pm, so we had limited use for this given that we were pretty busy exploring Tokyo on most nights. Nevertheless, when we did return to the hotel before 9pm, it was nice to dip into the lounge for a snack and a nightcap.
The hotel has a central staircase, which leads to its various amenities as well as the other Prince hotels. (There’s a helpful map of the grounds positioned near the staircase to guide you around the massive hotel complex; as you can see, the Prince Sakura Tower is but one of four Prince hotels on this block.)
Take the staircase up a level from the ground floor, and you arrive at the doorway to the green space. The classical Japanese gardens are gorgeously maintained, with the highlight being the beautiful koi pond in the middle of it all.
The green space also boasts plenty of interesting shrines and pavilions, so there’s plenty to look at as you wander around. I didn’t get a chance to check out the other Prince-branded hotels (which are all accessible via the courtyard), but my sense is that they’re about on par with the Sakura Tower – very comfortable high-end hotels but not quite at the highest echelons of luxury. Note, however, that only the Prince Sakura Tower is a part of Marriott’s Autograph Collection and can therefore be booked on points.
In terms of the hotel’s other features, there’s a small business centre located on the ground floor adjacent to the Executive Lounge and Ciliegio restaurant.
Then if you take the spiral staircase down a level, you’ll arrive at the spa and gym.
While there’s a whirlpool and sauna here at the Prince Sakura Tower, there’s no full-sized swimming pool; instead, we had been told upon check-in that we could use the swimming pool over at the Grand Prince Hotel Takanawa, although we’d have to pay a fee to access it. (Naturally, we never did.)
Since we had dedicated our time in Tokyo to being good tourists and exploring as much of the city as possible, I also couldn’t really fit in the time to go for a workout at the hotel gym, so I just popped downstairs to take some pictures.
Unfortunately there were no less than three gym attendants who immediately instructed me not to take pictures, so I just grabbed a few quick shots through the windows! It was a very nice hotel gym with a wealth of fitness equipment, and I’m a little sad I didn’t manage to make use of it.
After four nights at the hotel, we had a morning departure from Tokyo Haneda back to Beijing, so we grabbed a quick early breakfast in the Executive Lounge before packing our bags and heading out to Shinagawa station for our train to the airport.
The Prince Sakura Tower Tokyo is a solid mid-range hotel choice for visitors to Tokyo. While the location isn’t ideal, it also doesn’t matter too much given the efficiency of rail transport throughout the city. Meanwhile, while the decor and ambience of the public areas are befitting of a stylish luxury hotel, the guest rooms and hallways are more dated, and I’d imagine that a round of renovations ought to be happening in the near future.
All things considered, I enjoyed my stay at the Prince Sakura Tower, but I’d probably want to try out some of the city’s other properties the next time I’m in Tokyo.