INTRODUCTION

The Hotel Nikko Tokyo in Odaiba was rebranded as the Hilton Tokyo Odaiba on 1 October 2015, which provides an alternative to Hilton stays in the Japanese capital, which was previously primarily served by the Hilton Tokyo in Shinjuku and the Conrad Tokyo in Shiodome.

On review of the Hilton website, the property has a large variety of rooms and suites. There are a whopping 9 different suite types, all of which have terrace whirlpool jacuzzis.

Having stayed at the Shinjuku and Shiodome on numerous occasions, I was excited to try the Odaiba property and stayed there for one night on 24 Dec 2015 with my partner.

Christmas Eve is not a public holiday in Japan, and is rather a couples’ day, not dissimilar to Valentine’s Day in the west. All king-bedded rooms were booked out on the day of my stay, with myself having booked a King Deluxe Room. There were however many twin-bedded rooms and suites.

The standard rooms look out onto the port area of Odaiba, while the King Deluxe rooms look out onto Tokyo Bay. However, for both of these room configurations, I do not think Rainbow Bridge is visible from the room. However, the bridge can be viewed from these rooms after stepping out onto the balcony.

Now, onto the actual review…


CHECK-IN

I arrived at the hotel at about 2:30pm on check-in day. After a long red-eye flight, including a transit, I was hoping to check-in immediately and freshen up. However, I was bitterly let down by concierge who informed me before I even got to the front desk that check-in commences at 3:00pm and that I would have to wait. Not a big deal I thought, as it was only 30 minutes.

At 3:00pm sharp, I proceeded to check-in. The front desk has both a standard queue and an HHonors Priority Queue. I joined the HHonors queue, which was empty, while the standard queue had about 6 people waiting. The check-in desk was staffed by about five people.

Upon joining the queue, a staff member approached me and asked me whether or not I was an HHonors member. I replied that I was, and was then requested to show my HHonors card. Now, I do not carry around my physical card and I would have to connect to the WiFi network to show my card on my phone. While perhaps some people might appreciate them enforcing use of the priority queue, I thought the approach taken by staff was unnecessary and demeaning.

Upon check-in, I requested an upgrade hoping to get lucky and snag a suite upgrade (wanted to try the jacuzzi). However, I was offered an upgrade to a Twin Executive room a view of the Rainbow Bridge from the room. I accepted the room upgrade/change, and was informed that I could change back to my King Deluxe room if I didn’t like the room.


THE ROOM

The room itself is fairly spacious at about 40m2. The beds were firm, which I prefer, but there was no pillow menu available to change to a firmer pillow. However, the furniture is starting to look a little dated, with chips on chair legs and rips on leather furniture.

The Rainbow Bridge is visible from the room, and there is a small balcony from which the replica Statue of Liberty can be seen.

Lights, drapes and air conditioning could all be controlled from a bed-side controller, which looked like something from the 90s (you can probably start seeing a common theme here….). The air conditioning in the room was also not very strong, even when set to the lowest temperature and high fan speed. I’m not sure if this is common across all of the hotel’s rooms, but I’ve seen a review in the past stating issues with their A/C.

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The work-desk was perfectly functional, if not a little on the small side. There are two wall-charge sockets, an ethernet as well as audio-visual wall ports. However, if I was here on business, I wouldn’t appreciate the massive mirror in front of me while I do my work. After all, I wouldn’t want to see myself staring back at me every time I look up (not a reflection of how I look).

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I also stumbled across a box which suggested I had won something and that I should contact the front desk. This was probably part of a promotion for the hotel’s rebranding. Upon asking service staff, I was told that the box just meant that I should call concierge/front desk if I had any issues or complaints. While not a diva, I certainly don’t need to be told that I can complain – the fact that I pay money to stay gives me that right. I suspect that the promotion had probably already finished and that housekeeping wasn’t aware and placed the box in the room. The staff should have provided some sort of material benefit/coupon, instead of saying what they did.

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The mini-bar was also lacking, but the prices were fairly reasonable. For a resort-esque hotel, I think they need to increase their mini-bar selection, especially regarding hard liquor.

I happened to also need to mend my trousers (holiday season and all…) but could not find the standard mending kit with pre-threaded needle, which I have found to be standard at the Hiltons I have stayed at. The Hilton Tokyo also provides this without asking.

There is an in-room safe, ironing board, iron and shoe bar for convenience. However, the iron was wireless which needed charging before use. This was a real PITA as it needed to be charged for about 30 minutes just to iron one shirt. A wired iron would be much more useful so not sure why they went down the wireless path.

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BATHROOM

The bathroom was fairly small, with a separate section for shower / bath. The bath section had double doors which could be folded out into the room. Rainbow Bridge could also be viewed from the bath with the doors open. The shower had both a rainforest head and a regular detachable head.

 

Two bathrobes and a few towels were also provided. Two sets of the standard Peter Thomas Roth bath amenities were also provided, which was appreciated. The Hilton Tokyo can be a little tight regarding amenities. However, there was a little rust in the sink ring, which shows the age / upkeep of the property.

There was also a standard Japanese washlet with two rolls of toilet paper.


EXECUTIVE LOUNGE

At the time of my stay, the executive lounge was not yet open. However, this is slated to open on 31 December 2015. It looks quite nice though, with great views over Tokyo Bay / Rainbow Bridge. There will be both an outdoor and indoor section.

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ROOM SERVICE

I ordered room service for dinner, comprising a 3-course meal, extra appetiser, cocktail and raspberry sherbert. This was probably one of my worst room-service experiences. Apologies as I did not take photos.

Firstly, there was no in-room dining book in the room. I called the concierge to get one sent up, but was told that they didn’t have one, and that I could view the menu from the TV. For a hotel that had rebranded for almost 3 months, I don’t think this is acceptable. The menu from the TV was also not very intuitive, so I opted to looking it up on my phone instead.

It took around 2 hours from the time of my order to receive the food. After waiting that long, I tried calling to cancel the order, but just as I had the assistant on the phone, the food arrived. It was around 10:00pm when I got the food.

The food was pretty lacklustre without enough seasoning. The fish main I ordered was undercooked and I was given a massive plate of rice which did not fit in with the course at all.

The cocktail was called an ‘Edo cocktail’ which is a shochu mix, resembling a mojito, but which was undrinkable.

The raspberry sherbert I ordered was also not provided, which I had to call to cancel. It took about 30 minutes to get through to room service to cancel the order, which was perpetually busy/engaged.

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BREAKFAST

At check in, I was given two breakfast coupons, which were good in the ‘Ocean Dining’ or ‘Taronga’ restaurants. I had breakfast in Ocean Dining, which is a full buffet, so cannot speak to Taronga. However, I believe Taronga is an Australian-inspired grill / steakhouse of some sort. Apologies as I also did not take photos.

The breakfast coupon had ‘B S G D’ at the top, denoting the HHonors tiers. As a gold member, the ‘G’ was circled on my coupons. I’m not sure whether being a diamond provides additional benefits over the gold, as there was nothing at Ocean Dining which indicated so, but there may be in Taronga, as I don’t think that is a buffet affair.

There was a decent spread at Ocean Dining, with cold cuts, Japanese, Chinese and Western breakfast selections. Anyone familiar with the breakfast at the Hilton Tokyo will feel that they are comparable, but I would still prefer the Hilton Tokyo’s.

I had breakfast at 6:30am as I had an early flight, and there were not many people around. There was an HHonors priority queue to get into the restaurant, which would be useful during busier times.

The restaurant itself is quite calm and relaxing, at least at the time I visited, with great views over Tokyo Bay and Rainbow Bridge. It has a lounge-style atmosphere, as against the hustle and bustle at the Hilton Tokyo. Service was good, but cannot comment further as I could only stay for about 5 to 10 minutes.

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LOCATION

The property is located in Odaiba, an artificial island in Tokyo Bay. It is about a 2 minute walk from ‘Daiba’ station.

I accessed the property from Haneda Airport by riding the Keikyu line from the airport to Shinbashi Station. I then transferred to the Yurikamome line to Daiba Station. The whole commute took about 45 minutes, but could take longer if you don’t take express trains from the airport. However, you can also take the Rinkai line from the airport to Odaiba, which I’m not too familiar with. The cost and commute time of both methods is comparable.

Staying in Odaiba means riding the Yurikamome line, which is quite expensive, being around a $7.00 round trip to/from Shinbashi station. From Shinbashi station, it will be another $6-$10 round trip to wherever you want to go in Tokyo. Those JR, metro, Yurikamome and other train line fares will really add up over the course of a few trips. It cost me about $50 on the first day, just going to the hotel from the airport, then going out for the night and coming back to the hotel again.

Staying at this property also means adding an extra 20 minutes or so to a one way commute. The Yurikamome line is a bit of a pain to get to, as you need to go up numerous escalators at Shinbashi station, before a 15 minute ride to Daiba station.

The free shuttle bus at Shinjuku station for the Hilton Tokyo was sorely missed, as well as the more central location. Moreoever, staying in Shinjuku means you can focus your travel more on JR trains, which reduces the cost of transfers to the metro systems, etc.

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OVERALL

I have to say that I was really quite disappointed with my stay. Given previous TripAdvisor reviews of the Nikko properties, I thought that the hotel would have had gotten its act together by 3 months after the rebranding, and especially on Christmas Eve, which is a couple’s day in Japan.

While I think elite recognition at the property is good (HHonors queues and 2+ category upgrade), it is still a little rough around the edges with a lack of staff training about how to approach elites (asking for my HHonors card).

There is also a clear miscommunication about internal practices. I don’t think waiting over 2 hours for room service, being told that I ‘found’ a gift giving me the privilege of making complaints is acceptable.

However, for those looking for an alternative to the Hilton and Conrad Tokyo, the Odaiba property is just ok – nothing special and in need of room updates. Hopefully after the dust settles even more, it will improve. However for now, I’ll definitely be sticking with the Hilton and Conrad Tokyo.

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