Is there a more hushed and zen-minded hotel in London than the Prince Akatoki? I doubt it.
Tucked behind stunning Georgian houses in a crescent near Marble Arch, the quietness hits you as soon as you enter.
In the lobby there’s cool furniture designed to be both sculptural and comfortable, all in calming neutral tones, and a fire flickers in one corner. Madonna’s London home is directly opposite the hotel: her staff have been known to come here to use Prince Akatoki’s small working space, called the Sanctuary. Perhaps they need the peace.
Formerly the Arch, this privately owned establishment on Great Cumberland Place became London’s only Japanese hotel in 2019, and went straight into the five-star bracket.
Upstairs there are 82 rooms that would make TV ‘Queen of Clean’ Marie Kondo’s heart sing. There’s no extraneous design, little decor, simple leather chairs, speakers, bedside lights, white sofas and a screen with a faint outline of Mount Fuji behind the bed’s headboard.
Sarah Turner stays at Prince Atatoki (pictured), a five-star bolthole that’s known as London’s only Japanese hotel
Soothing: Above is one of the 82 rooms, complete with an outline of Mount Fuji behind the bed
‘Is there a more hushed and zen-minded hotel in London than the Prince Akatoki?’ wonders Sarah
The hotel is tucked behind stunning Georgian houses in a crescent near Marble Arch
Madonna’s London home is directly opposite the Prince Akatoki hotel: her staff have been known to go there to use its small working space, called the Sanctuary
In the bathroom, things get a little more high-tech – the toilet seat has a remote control that lets you heat it up. It also has lights and the ability to blow warm air, in a helpful way.
Although I could have simply admired our room for ages, we force ourselves downstairs. The bar, Malt, is where the hotel’s trademark calm is accessorised with cocktails in a clubby, wood-panelled room. I enjoy a tasty drink with citrusy yuzu, rum and Japanese tea bitters, my companion savours a whisky with sesame oil, syrup and Angostura bitters.
One of the joys of going to a Japanese restaurant is that it’s perfectly acceptable to leave ordering in the hands of the waiters. In the Prince Akatoki restaurant, called Tokii, our waiter suggests nigiri with salmon and tuna, followed by wagyu beef. It’s all delightfully fresh, delicately spiced and – of course – beautifully presented. This includes the pudding, where yuzu and raspberry are matched with a more western concoction: a creme brulee. The sommelier had superb wine, but there was also a full collection of sake.
Back in our room, someone has laid out traditional yukatas – Japanese house coats – for us, complete with a diagram showing how to tie them. In the bathroom I laugh uproariously as I stare at the remote control for a long time, wondering how it flushes the loo, before I see a notice telling me that flushing is done in the old-fashioned, British way.
Tokii, the hotel’s restaurant (pictured), serves Japanese dishes like nigiri with salmon and tuna and wagyu beef
‘It’s all delightfully fresh, delicately spiced and – of course – beautifully presented,’ Sarah says of her food at Tokii. The restaurant has superb wine, as well as a full collection of sake. Above are the restaurant’s tasty dishes
The bar, Malt (above), is where the hotel’s trademark calm is accessorised with cocktails in a clubby, wood-panelled room
And so to bed, which is a long way from being a futon; it’s a deep mattress on a proper bedstead that overlooks Madonna’s pad – but the shutters across the road are closed.
Breakfast in the morning provides the option of British, with eggs and sausage, or Japanese. We opt for the latter, with miso soup, steamed vegetables, tofu and omelette, all served in a lacquer box.
It comes with matcha tea, but there’s a limit to how Japanese I can be before 10am and instead opt for a cappuccino.