The military sent you to Japan, and you’re planning your trip to Tokyo — because if you lived in Japan and never visited Tokyo, did you really live in Japan? You do the typical hotel search and think, “Man, I know the prices are in yen, but that’s a lot of numbers. What is that equivalent to, like $280, $300, $530 per night?” Don’t give up on Tokyo just yet, the New Sanno Hotel is here to salvage your dreams of Insta-worthy pics in Japan’s biggest city.
Rates, Rooms, and Reservations
It doesn’t look like much from the street — it’s a whole lot of brown brick. But, beyond the gate, the New Sanno boasts 149 guest rooms of various styles and sizes. The size of your family or travel party (and availability, obviously) will dictate what type of room you reserve, and your service member’s rank or grade will determine your nightly rate. The higher the grade, the more you pay. An O4 would pay $105 per night for a family room, for example, and an E1 would pay $80 for the same room. You can pay more ($120 for senior grade and civilians and $95 for junior grade) to sleep in a traditional Japanese suite, which is futon bedding, but if you’re being kind to your back (’cause, you know you’ll feel that in the morning), the maximum you’ll spend for any grade is $105 per night for a western-style room (including TDY). You can find a complete breakdown of rates on the New Sanno Hotel website.
You can make reservations up to six months in advance, and it’s recommended you do that, especially during peak travel times — ahem, cherry blossoms or the Tokyo Olympics. If your travel plans change, you can always cancel without a late fee, as long as you cancel at least seven days prior to your stay.
Now, about those digs — here are your options, starting with the smallest and cheapest option and climbing from there:
- Single room
- Double room
- Twin room
- King suite
- Twin suite
- Family room
- Japanese suite
Because Japanese hotels are a little different than what you might encounter in the states and we can already hear you saying, “What’s the difference between a single room and a twin room,” let’s dive a little deeper into the sleeping arrangements. The twin room is two twin beds and sleeps a max of two adults, but a single room is one queen bed.
OK, so then what’s a twin suite? A twin suite is, again, two twin beds, but with a sleeper sofa and a little more room and a bathtub (making it easier to bathe the littlest travelers). A double room is the exact same, just a queen bed instead of the two twins. The king suite upgrades you to a king bed from a queen.
Last, but certainly not least, the family room is — appropriately enough — only for families of up to five people. It’s essentially two adjoining rooms — one room has a queen bed and a shower, and the other has two twin beds and a bathtub. Each room has a door to the hallway. So, for families with young kiddos who know how to work doorknobs and locks, you might sleep easier in a suite where you’re all in the same room. For older kids who need a break from mom and dad (*eyeroll*), spring for the family room.
Now that you have an idea of what kind of room you’re after, you’re ready to make a reservation. You can call 03-3440-7871, extension 7121 from Japan or 81-3-3440-7871, extension 7121 from outside Japan. The staff is English-speaking of varying degrees, so have no fear when you call.
If you prefer to make reservations online, you can do that — it might even be easier than calling if you’re a visual person. You can see current availability on the New Sanno Hotel website and fill out a reservation request form that includes your desired travel dates, first and second choice of room, contact information, traveler information, and eligibility confirmation (branch of service, rank, on leave or TDY, etc.). After you submit your request, you’ll receive a reply with the room offer (based on availability), and you’ll be asked to confirm.
Now, no one in this circle is going to blame you for thinking that a hotel that much cheaper than neighboring options must be like the last TLF you stayed in that desperately needed some Clorox and a reno. But the New Sanno Hotel is like tier one on the fancy-pants scale of military lodging. It’s right up there with the Dragon Hill Lodge in Seoul (which, by the way, is their sister site), the Marine Memorial Hotel in San Francisco, and Edelweiss in Germany (guessing on the latter, but this writer will travel…seriously…please…pretty please).
The hotel grounds include limited basement parking (but, who really wants to drive in Tokyo), a fitness center, an indoor, heated pool on the second floor (with a nice shallow end for the kiddos), hot tub, and saunas.
Also on the second floor is a small Navy exchange. Here you’ll find souvenirs (but there are more and often cheaper souvenirs in the gift shop on the first floor), plenty of swimsuits, a vast men’s department, a few snacks and toiletries, jewelry, and the exchange staple, Coach purses. What you won’t find is a bottle of wine for your hotel room. Just down the hall from the NEX, a seven-day is being added (as of early 2018), but if you’re staying before that opens and you just need some wine for the room, you can buy it by the bottle at Hero’s Deli across the hall from the NEX. They’ll even pop the cork for you and give you a couple of glasses. You can also get food to-go from Hero’s if you’ve done enough people-ing for the day.
The restaurants on the grounds include Hero’s, which we’ve mentioned. It’s a typical American-style deli with sandwiches, salads, and pizzas. There are TVs that always have some sort of game on. You’ll also find the Sunrise Café just off the lobby that has you covered for coffee and a quick bite; you can just grab some pastries and Starbucks coffee from the counter. If you aren’t in a rush, you can have a full breakfast at Emporium. They offer a buffet and menu ordering, and they’re open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Speaking of dinner, you’ll find the dinner options of Kikuya (teppanyaki) and Wellingtons (an upscale choice). If you’re traveling kid-less, you can grab more than Hero’s to-go wine at Fair Winds cocktail lounge on the first floor.
New Sanno also hosts a weekly Sunday brunch in the Empire Room on the first floor. This is a popular choice among guests, so reservations are suggested.
Location, Location, Location
The dining options at the hotel are great and all, but you’re in Tokyo! You didn’t come all this way to stay in the hotel. So, what’s around the New Sanno Hotel? The hotel is in the heart of the Embassy District. If you’re an international affairs nerd (ahem…guilty), then this neighborhood might as well be Disneyland. You can walk the blocks behind the hotel and find beautiful streets full of culture. With embassies representing countries from all over the world, you’ll find an amazing mix of restaurants, including La Jolla Mexican food, French patisseries, plenty of Japanese cuisine — of course, delicious Indian curry at Priya, burgers, lobster rolls — you name it. If it’s a Western breakfast you want, hit Jade 5 early because the restaurant only seats about 10-12 people, but you won’t want to miss it.
If you’re staying a while, walk to the National Azabu supermarket for a diverse food and beverage selection. Across the street from Azabu is Arisugawa-no-miya Memorial Park. It’s a perfect spot to enjoy your pastry breakfast and coffee and stroll around while you wait for shops in Hiroo to open, and you could spend an entire day in Hiroo if you tried. The area between New Sanno and Hiroo is full of upscale shopping, mostly golf-related, but it’s still a pleasant walk even if you aren’t a golfer or independently wealthy.
If your crew is feeling energetic, Tokyo Tower is about a 35-minute walk one way. But, for most other must-see sites, like Shibuya Crossing (site of the busiest intersection you’ll ever see and that rainbow cotton candy the size of your toddler), Cat Street, Tokyo Skytree, Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden, Senso-ji and Hozomon Gate, and the Shinagawa area, take the train.
The New Sanno is an easy cab ride away from the airports and train stations, and the concierge will gladly flag down a cab for you, even in the pouring rain. If that doesn’t convince you that the New Sanno Hotel is the tip of the hospitality sword, nothing will.
Photo Credits: Kristi Stolzenberg