First 'French style' 5-star hotel launched in Tokyo
New interior design complements unique Japanese architecture
One of Tokyo's most distinctive hotels - the 'Christmas Tree' shaped Sofitel Tokyo in Ueno - has been relaunched following a US$6.8 million upgrade, courtesy of renowned French designer Pierre-Yves Rochon.
Rochon was responsible for the classic transformation of the Sofitel Paris Le Faubourg as well as the sophisticated interior design of two new Sofitel properties in Philadelphia and New York. Rochon is giving the Sofitel Tokyo a similar European ambience, with a restful atmosphere that offers a perfect contrast to Tokyo's bustling pace.
The Sofitel Tokyo, the city's only French-branded hotel, was opened originally in 1994 and is a landmark building in the centre of Ueno. The hotel was designed by world-renowned architect, Kiyonori Kikutake, who pioneered a range of projects that integrated tradition with modernity. In the 1960s he was employed for the grand Tokyo new town development program, and through till the end of the century he led the industry in Japan with innovative "tree shaped housing" and high-rise office complexes that still managed to incorporate traditional Japanese architecture.
One of these projects was the Sofitel Tokyo. Shaped like a Japanese pagoda - many of which are located in Ueno Park, opposite the Sofitel - the hotel also resembled a 'Christmas tree', which earned the building such international recognition. Designed specifically to reflect traditional Japanese influences, the hotel's appearance was also due to the installation of the most revolutionary system to prevent damage from earthquakes. Water tanks on the top of the Sofitel are programmed to react to any tremors, so that the hotel automatically 'balances' if an earthquake strikes.
Another feature of the hotel is its spaciousness. On some floors, there are just two guest rooms, which are all uncommonly large by Tokyo standards. And across from the hotel (with most rooms enjoying stunning city or park views) is Ueno Park, Tokyo's largest. The Park features a vast lake, historical monuments, art galleries, museums, a zoological park, running track, and abundant cherry-blossom trees.
For business travellers the hotel is one of the city's most convenient. A direct train service connects Ueno with Narita Airport, and three subway and railway stations are within minutes of the Sofitel to provide easy connections to business and entertainment areas such as Ginza, Marunouchi, Otemachi, Roppongi and Akihabara "Electric Town" for the latest in electronic gadgets.
The Sofitel boasts the most modern communications systems, multi-lingual staff, extensive conference and function facilities and full concierge services.
Accor, the parent company of Sofitel, acquired the hotel in March last year, becoming the first foreign company to purchase an international hotel in Tokyo. It previously operated the hotel under a franchise agreement.
Sofitel Hotels & Resorts has 145 hotels in 48 countries. Accor, with 130,000 associates in 140 countries around the world, is the European leader and worldwide group present in travel, tourism and services with two major international businesses:
- Hotels (more than 3,500 hotels) in 90 countries and travel agencies, restaurants and casinos;
- Services (cards and vouchers) with Accor Corporate Services.