Throughout our trip, we've heard murmurings about the city's latest hotel entry, the Peninsula Tokyo, opening this month on the southeast corner of the Imperial Palace Gardens. From the location (near the Ginza and burgeo-ning Marunouchi), to thoughtful tech touches (room phones that convert to cell phones, handy since most American phones won't work), the Peninsula may hit the sweet spot on service, authen-tically designed rooms, and more. For a culture that prizes the New, the Penin-sula is not only New but also Notable.
Still, there's no doubt that the Old has its charms. Our final stay is at Park Hyatt Tokyo, which opened in 1994, and it's clear why this hotel sets the bar for excellence. Everything, from the check-in process (a sit-down affair at a desk that has the feel of a friendly counseling session) to our room (vast, soothingly civilized) to the location (in Shinjuku, a mini city with great shopping and an over-the-top red-light scene if you're so inclined), satisfies me completely. "There will never be another Park Hyatt," the Peninsula's general manager Malcolm Thompson (formerly of Park Hyatt) acknowledges when I call him after our stay. "It was the original—something for us all to live up to."
Nina Willdorf is a senior editor at Travel + Leisure.