Neil Porten checks into Hotel Villa Fontaine Tokyo — Shiodome.

Getting there:

If you are arriving from Narita airport, the Narita Express train takes you directly to Tokyo Station. From there, the hotel is a 10-minute taxi ride (on an early Saturday evening) or, if you take the metro, a minute's walk from Shiodome station. Or there is a shuttle bus from the airport to the Conrad hotel

next door.


Check-in experience: Straightforward, once the self-check-in screen found me by my first name. Check-in 3pm, check-out 11am.

Location: Shiodome is a smart area of offices, shops and restaurants close to the Ginza district.

The room: A Superior room on the 6th floor. Not particularly large, but I had a view of the rail tracks, which was great for watching both the boxy metro trains and the sleek Shinkansen bullet trains.

Bed: A firm, very comfortable queen.

Facilities: You can book smoking rooms. Impressive vaulted lobby with bar, fitness room, laundrette.

Wi-Fi: Free in the lobby and in the rooms.

The bathroom: Bog-standard — for Japan — "Washlet" toilet with all the bidet and bum-warming functions you'll ever need. Shower hot and strong.

Food and drink: The breakfast buffet, served in the lobby, was a generous spread of hot and cold, Asian and Western options. There's a vending machine in an alcove on each floor. No restaurant, but there are plenty of nearby options for lunch and dinner.

Noise: No clickety-clack from the railroad tracks, and a silent air-conditioning unit.

Toiletries: Bath fizz, toothbrush, folding hairbrush and slippers — all souvenired. I neither used nor souvenired the "shirt-style pyjamas" provided.

What's in the neighbourhood: The hotel is part of a complex which includes the Conrad Hotel and the Shiodome Sumitomo Building. There's an underpass arcade to the metro station with a convenience store (adaptor plugs stocked), shops and a small number of restaurants which all appeared to be taking their last orders at 9pm. A 400m walk takes you to the Hamarikyu Gardens with its teahouse set in one of the tidal ponds, which are fed by the adjacent Tokyo Bay. Stroll for about another kilometre and you arrive at the famous Tsukiji Fish Market. The fish auction has moved elsewhere but the street-facing stalls offering food and souvenirs are worth an extended visit.

What we loved: Gawping from a sixth-floor corridor window into the cavernous lobby, which clearly takes its architectural cues from a docking bay on the Death Star from Star Wars. Where did I park the Millennium Falcon?

Perfect for: A comfortable, quiet stopover close to transport and central to all the action in Tokyo.

Would I return? Yes. Lobby aside, character is not the strong point, but it's a quiet place to recharge after a hectic day in the big city.

Bottomline: A good business option, especially if you expect to entertain in the lobby, and convenient for the glitzy Ginza shops and jaunts elsewhere via the Metro.