Winston Aldworth stays at the Gate Hotel, Asakusa, Tokyo.
Asakusa train station is one of the seemingly limitless number of major train stations servicing the people of Tokyo, so easily reached from either airport. The hotel is little more than a five-minute walk from there.
Check-in: The street-level entry is pretty much anonymous; we hop into a lift and whoosh upwards. Out in these Tokyo suburbs, there are few high-rise buildings, so the Gate Hotel wisely does all of their business higher up — reception is on the 13th floor, where wide windows offer panoramic views.
The room: A compact 24sq m suite, ideal for a couple with a busy itinerary of Tokyo sites to see. There are 134 rooms in a variety of sizes.
In the neighbourhood:
The Gate Hotel is an excellent base for exploring the Ueno and Asakusa areas. Across the road from the hotel and down a little, you'll walk right into Asakusa's main attraction: Sensoji and the impressive gate that stands before it (from which the hotel gets its name). This Buddhist temple was built in the 7th century and today you'll find yourself in a queue behind a stylish millennial wearing headphones as women walk past in full traditional kimono. The temple is a crazy, wonderful mix, and despite being a massive drawcard (particularly for Japanese visitors) it's a bit of a sanctuary from the exhausting sensory overload that so much of Tokyo can bring.
Ueno is further away, probably not walkable, and it's home to the splendid Tokyo National Museum, home of the most impressive collection of samurai swords you're likely to see.
With the trainline so handy, the hotel also worked well for us in our explorations of wider Tokyo.
Room with a view: Our sixth-floor suite had a fairly nondescript view of the city's skyline — you can pay more for windows with better vantage points. But the prudent guest will get their viewing thrill from the foyer and rooftop bar. On the top floor, an open rooftop bar looks straight out at the Tokyo Skytree, the tallest structure in Japan (which, at 634 metres is almost twice the height of the Skytower).
Up there, you'll find a stylish bar open late serving great Japanese single malt. From the couches outside, the lights of the city and the Skytree are really something else. It's a truly magic spot.
Food and drink: We started each day in the hotel's 13th-floor dining room with a smart, Western-style cooked breakfast. A young woman was hard at work making freshly squeezed orange juice for us and the hotel's own bees provided honey from honeycomb.
A lovely touch.
For dinner, there are some great ramen bars within a short walk of the hotel door.
The final word: An excellent base for exploring one of the world's most fascinating cities. Be sure to take some time to relax on that amazing rooftop.