Although reviewing 5-star hotels and restaurants is a pretty fun gig, I still maintain that my first ever job as a young adult was my favourite – working as a lifeguard at my local leisure centre. I could play pop-punk on the tinny stereo in the staff room next to the pool, chat to the bikini-clad women taking swimming classes (who were probably wondering why this baby-faced whistle-blower was in charge of their safety), and shout “NO HEAVY PETTING!” any time two adults swam within a few feet of each other. Ah, the glory days. As I walk to the front door of the InterContinental Tokyo Bay and look out at the magnificent, uh, Tokyo Bay – from which I just have to assume the vertiginous hotel takes its name – I half-hope to hear a cry for help so I can dive in and save the day, Blink 182 blaring in my memory. Alas, no fair maidens are shrieking for my attention (are they ever?). Ah well, I didn’t pack my trunks anyway.
We’re given a very warm reception by the staff on the ground floor who explain that we can check in on the Executive Lounge on the 20th floor. A concierge escorts us there via the elevator and we’re greeted by another clutch of friendly staff who help us complete the sign-in process over a cup of apple-flavoured tea, taken from the comprehensive self-serve open buffet.
The room is exactly what you want out of a stay in the city: king-sized bed, huge deep bath and a separate rain shower, plenty of storage space in the cupboards, large flatscreen TV and a writing bureau complete with a luxurious leather chair. Come to think of it, it’s probably what you want out of anywhere you’re staying. Oh, and the best bit? Taking in the view of the glittering metropolis afforded by the floor-to-ceiling windows out of which I stare, half-wondering whether I could nail a swan-dive into the bay below should I hear a cry for help (let it go, Hasselhoff – you’re not that guy anymore…).
Baywatch fantasies set aside once again, I tear myself away from the neon cityscape and head down to check out the ground floor that has several restaurants and high-end boutique shops dotted around the entrance, meaning that shopaholics and foodies don’t have to leave the hotel to get a fix. Talking of which, once we saw the spread at the Executive Lounge’s buffet, we cancel any plans to go out and help ourselves to the delicious array of food and drinks that span Asian and Western cuisines. The staff are all incredibly pleasant and we feel very welcome to stay until closing time, after which we retire to our room only to head straight back as soon as we wake up for a slap-up breakfast.
With a stomach full of scrambled eggs, bacon and fresh fruit, I remember that lifeguards have to stay beach body ready at all times, so I go to check out the fitness centre where there are a few elliptical machines and treadmills for any guest wanting to feel the burn. Maybe I don’t have the energy of my 16-year-old self, or, more likely, the whisky that I drank last night is more persuasive than my urge to work up a sweat and I decide that a few lunges back towards the door is quite enough of a workout.
Tempting as it might be to cancel our flight and stay another night or three in this luxurious haven on the off-chance that my aquatic skills might be called upon, I save everyone the embarrassment of witnessing an ill-timed belly flop into the bay in order to retrieve a floating crisp packet and leave InterContinental Tokyo Bay with a promise to return should a pool boy job vacancy ever open up. “Some people stand in the darkness, afraid to step into the light…”
InterContinental Tokyo Bay, 1-16-2 Kaigan, Minato-Ku, Tokyo 105-8576, Japan.
The Hotel is a five-minute walk from Takeshiba station, situated right on the edge of Tokyo bay and a 20-minute train ride from Haneda Airport.
Type of Hotel: 5-Star Hotel
Price Band: Expensive
Insider Tip: Spring for a room on the Executive Floor and enjoy a superb buffet and free bar throughout the day and into the evening in the Executive Lounge that boasts unparalleled views of Tokyo.
Reviewer’s Rating: 8/10
David Harfield is the director of PepperStorm Media and writes about his three passions: food, booze and travel.
Photographs courtesy of InterContinental Tokyo Bay