Scotland on Sunday Travel: The Prince Akatoki, London

London’s only five-star Japanese hotel has a unique, relaxing, Eastern-influenced ambience, writes Emma Newlands.

The calming neutral hues of a studio bedroom at The Prince Akatoki hotel, London.

What’s more, the name Akatoki apparently comes from an ancient Japanese word for sunrise, representing “the feeling you get when you wake up relaxed, rejuvenated and ready for the endless possibilities of the day ahead”.

That all definitely fits the bill on what is my first trip to the Big Smoke in many months, and having only mostly travelled as far as my local cafe in the last year or so.

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Unsurprisingly it takes me longer than usual to adjust to the hordes when I get off the train at King’s Cross, and the hotel indeed offers welcome respite.

It’s just a few blocks from Marble Arch Tube station, easy to find at street level because of the coral-coloured flag bearing the hotel’s name above its doorway.

Formerly The Arch London, and spread over a series of Georgian townhouses, it’s located in trendy, high-end Marylebone, an area of London I wasn’t familiar with before this trip, but as a result fast-track it to one of my favourite parts of the city.

Its reception has a calming, spa-like feel, with a light, sandy colour scheme and wooden surfaces.

Budget or Boutique

A bedroom featuring the hotel’s trademark panels above the bed, which have been designed to “capture the essence of dawn”.

Boutique, it’s five star.

Covid precautions

Room Service

The hotel gym.

I’m staying with a friend, and our lodgings are a studio suite, a spacious and pleasingly uncluttered space that continues the neutral colour scheme.

It features the hotel’s trademark panels above the bed, which have been designed to “capture the essence of dawn”, while there is also a sofa and a kitchen area.

The bathroom, which is also sizeable, has a large bath - complete with bath pillow - separate double rain shower, and MALIN + GOETZ toiletries, as well as a Japanese-style hi-tech TOTO toilet.

There’s even a small outdoor area with two chairs, where my friend and I have a cup of tea to decompress after we’ve put down our suitcases.

The Prince Akatoki hotel at 50 Great Cumberland Place, Marble Arch, London, is the only five-star Japanese hotel in London.

Wining and dining

The hotel’s in-house TOKii restaurant has a darker colour scheme, seeming to serve as the yin to the lighter yang seen elsewhere in the hotel.

The menu is extensive - I’m not sure how it can all come out of the relatively compact-looking kitchen - and with a strong Japanese influence.

Among the dishes we sample are ultra-fresh, crispy, shrimp tempura with a daikon and ginger dashi, a highly moreish tuna tartare that is served with golden lotus root chips, and rare-centred, melt-in-the-mouth teriyaki-glazed duck breast.

There is also a sushi offering, which “has been carefully curated by a master from Japan” - the nigiri I try, including a deep red tuna, are excellent and made with evident precision - while diners with the deepest pockets can make the most of the Wagyu selection.

There is also The Malt Lounge & Bar, a glam and intimate space decorated with a cherry blossom tree until autumn - complete with cocktail menu inspired by ikigai, which apparently means "a reason for being". Each sub-section has a philosophical title and concept, such as the What You Can Be Rewarded For offerings, whose tagline is that “the purpose in life is to find your gift; the meaning of it is to give it away”. Wise, and indeed topical, words!

Some of the options are rather out there - notably one including Wagyu-fat-washed Toki whisky, but there are also alcohol-free options, such as the Kaizen, which contains Aloe vera, rhubarb and ginger jam, pineapple cordial, and basil.

Finally, there are also the weekend bottomless brunches, or the option of heading to the great outdoors, at, say, nearby Hyde Park, Kensington Gardens or Holland Park, with a picnic hamper (£100 for two people) including traditional sparkling sake or prosecco, Scotch quail eggs, chicken teriyaki buns, and Yuzu crème brûlée, for example.

Little extras

Having become much more germ-phobic I’m pleased that the hotel offers “personal PPE” kits, which include latex gloves as well as disposable masks, hand sanitiser, and disinfectant wipes, while staff in reception are quick to offer bottles of water and other soft drinks.

The hotel also has a very high-end gym, which I make use of - reminding me of one of The Malt Lounge & Bar cocktail menu’s sections stating that “only staying active will make you want to live 100 years”.

There’s also a quiet, secluded communal workspace area just off reception, should you need to fire up the laptop, while on the leisure side the hotel offers experiences such as sushi masterclasses.

Worth getting out of bed for

You could go boating on the Serpentine at nearby Hyde Park, for example, while we explore Marylebone Village, which offers an ideal combination of high-end shops and relaxed village feel. However, the busier areas of central London are also within easy reach.

Guest book comments

The Prince Akatoki London rightly says it “invites you to slow down, breathe, and re-enter the world feeling new again” - while offering a taste of Japanese culture without needing to travel abroad.

I found it to be an ideal base from which to explore London, combined with a unique, relaxing, Eastern-influenced ambience in which to decompress. Arigato!

Rooms at The Prince Akatoki London start at £229 per night., 50 Great Cumberland Place, Marble Arch, London, W1H 7FD, Tel: 0207 724 4700.

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