Tokyo Calling: A New Bulgari Hotel Brings Italian Luxury to the Heart of Japan
In the beginning of April, Bulgari launched the eighth project in its line of hotels and resorts, right in the middle of Japan’s bustling capital. The Bulgari Tokyo Hotel takes up the 40th and 45th floors of the Tokyo Midtown Yaesu building – the tenth tallest building in the country and fourth tallest in the city – a glittering, glassy skyscraper towering over the busy Tokyo railway station like an enormous computer part.
The building is located in Tokyo’s Chiyoda district, a special ward containing the Imperial Palace as well as numerous parks and museums, making the location convenient for tourists and sightseers. The opulent Ginza and historic Nihonbashi shopping districts are also located nearby.
The two floors of the hotel are filled with many familiar cornerstones of Bulgari luxury – a 1,500-metre spa where visitors can indulge in the latest trending treatments and therapies, the signature Bulgari vitality pool, a fireplace lounge and outdoor terrace, the Bulgari Bar, and two different restaurants. Also present are two ballrooms and a wedding salon, for guests who’d like to host their events and celebrations in the hotel, as well as 98 different rooms and suites – all of it healthily doused in the warm, refined sophistication that the brand is known for.
The interior design was handled by Antonio Citterio and Patricia Viel of APCV Architects, who have worked on all Bulgari’s other hotels. “All Bulgari hotels have in common a reinterpretation of luxury based on a new perception of quality — quality that passes from the choice of materials to the design of each piece of furniture,” Viel says of what unites their work. Luxury doesn’t need to mean a brash lavishness; it can mean the simple opulence of an intentionally designed, high-quality space.
This idea of quality-based luxury is obvious within all of the hotel’s spaces. Inside a long ballroom, warm, earthy tones cover the panelled walls, carpeted floors, and pleated curtains. Strategically placed slim mirrors, along with lines of dark colour criss-crossing the windows and ceiling, make the room seem like it stretches on endlessly. Elegant golden patterns across the floor and curtains inject a definitive Bulgari tone into the room. “The aesthetic identity that distinguishes Bulgari is design that’s not interested in creating trophies — instead, it aims to create unique experiences,” says Viel.
The rooms and suites are populated by furniture from well-known Italian luxury brands like Flexform, B&B Italia, and Maxalto. Select other items are crafted by local Japanese artisans. The furniture is effortlessly tasteful, at once contemporary and timeless — round end tables with slim legs triangulating outwards, pine-toned cabinets that blend into the wall, discreet armchairs and couches in appealing grey tones. The furnishings, rather than popping out aggressively, melt into the tones of the room and become seamless parts of the space’s luxurious flow.
“We wanted to create a place of elegance where guests can find not just comfort and luxury, but also a sense of warm homeliness,” Viel explains. “Comfort is not only a physical sensation, but also an atmosphere — a sensation of being in the right place and the desire to stay there.”
The bathrooms of the suites are designed to dazzle. Sand-coloured tiles cover much of the walls and floors, presenting a bit of a lighter, refreshing contrast to the rooms. Two sinks are set side-by-side like marble pillars, spiderwebbed by beautiful dark veins. Giant mirrors that stretch across nearly an entire wall reflect a segment of the opposite wall, where abstract geometric patterns over off-white marble look simultaneously like stone seams and Rorschach tests, at once natural and artistic. The entire room brings to mind feats of classical Italian art as well as the Mediterranean coast — a perfect place to begin the day.
Both of the hotel’s restaurants are staples of the Bulgari hotel empire: Il Ristorante Niko Romito, present in all of their hotels, and Sushi Hoseki, which started at their Dubai resort. Three-time Michelin Star-winning chef Kenji Gyoten will be overseeing the latter, an intimate gastronomy-focused concept restaurant with only eight seats that look onto a private Japanese rock garden. After dinner, guests can relax in the vitality pool, held in one of the hotel’s most modernist rooms; the pool’s glimmering green waters are surrounded by dark-toned stones and woods, while bright white massage beds and candles line the floor – all of it speaking to relaxation and rejuvenation.
To bring Bulgari’s signature style to international locations, the designers think it’s paramount to “establish harmonies and dialogues with the urban surroundings and local culture,” says Viel. In this case, that meant integrating aspects of Japanese aesthetics by using materials like elm and hinoki woods, and sourcing artisanal fabrics from Kyoto textile company Hosoo.
Though Bulgari’s hotels may incorporate aspects of the local culture, all of their locations are driven by the idea of Italian luxury. Viel says what this means is simple: “elegance, comfort, and gioia di vivere.” In the Bulgari Hotel Tokyo, it’s clear that all three qualities abound.