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Chinzanso
Tokyo

The Chinzanso has the most illustrious history of any hotel in Tokyo. The land and garden were painted by Hiroshige in the 17th century and owned by an elder statesman around the turn of the 19th century then subsequently developed as a free-standing hotel. The garden is without doubt one of the finest in Tokyo with cherry blossom trees, a pagoda and meandering paths around the central pond creating a sublime environment especially in blossom season.

The garden is by no means the only highlight of the property. It impresses on arrival with a beautifully curated lobby with lounge sofas, chandeliers and artworks that look as if they have been transported from a penthouse in Europe. This style was very much in vogue after the war and is still appreciated by the largely Japanese clientele. This does put it at risk of becoming a museum piece, but the Chinzanso feels fresh, unlike some of the other heritage hotels which feel rather musty and dated now.

The rooms are a delight. King beds with sweeping garden views through floor-to-ceiling windows, some of the most spacious bathrooms of any hotel in Japan, and little touches like fresh fruit and English-language newspapers each morning. The Chinzanso boasts half a dozen restaurants - French, Italian and Japanese - where guests are bound to dine as the hotel's only disadvantage is its location. It is a taxi or train ride to dining areas such as Shinjuku or Ikebukuro, but this distance does add to the sense of an oasis of luxury that is neither halfway up a skyscraper nor bustling with people like the downtown hotels.

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There are no foreign lands. It is the traveller only who is foreign.
Robert Louis Stevenson