What are the top first class awards to Tokyo, and best luxury hotels to stay at? TravelSort client Jonathan writes “We are planning a 10th year wedding anniversary trip to Japan in Spring 2017 and would love to travel first class. What are the best first class awards, and which Tokyo luxury hotels do you most recommend?”
Prior to the 2016 AAdvantage award chart devaluation, JAL First Class was a terrific value, at just 62,500 AAdvantage miles each way. Post-devaluation, these are what I consider the best first class awards from the U.S., and the frequent flyer miles you need for them:
1. Singapore Suites on the A380, LAX to Tokyo NRT: 74,375 KrisFlyer miles
Singapore Suites on the A380 remains my favorite first class product, even above Etihad First Apartment, due to the greater privacy of the suite (higher walls) and most importantly, the more comfortable bed, thanks to the thick memory foam like mattress. Unfortunately this nonstop to Tokyo is only available from Los Angeles LAX, and it can be very challenging to find a saver level award on many days, let alone two on the same flight. But if you do, this would be my top pick for getting to Tokyo in first class. Note that while the price is 87,500 KrisFlyer miles each way for a saver level award, you enjoy a 15% discount when reserving online, bringing the cost to just 74,375 KrisFlyer miles plus taxes.
2. JAL First Class 777-300ER: 80,000 AAdvantage miles
After Singapore Suites on the A380, my favorite first class bed is JAL First Class, which offers a thick, comfortable airweave mattress pad that even offers a choice of soft or firm. Meal quality is also much better in JAL First Class than in JAL Business Class, so even with the increased AAdvantage miles required for this award, I’d suggest saving up for JAL First Class for a special anniversary or romantic trip, even though JAL Business Class, which is 60,000 AAdvantage miles each way post-devaluation, is an excellent product if traveling solo.
3. ANA First Class 777-300: 100,000 KrisFlyer miles
ANA First Class isn’t much talked about, although I hope to fly it and review the product sometime next year. There are 8 open suites in a 1-2-1 configuration of two rows on the 777-300ER. While it’s possible to reserve it with any Star Alliance miles, it costs 110,000 United miles and 105,000 Aeroplan miles, so I recommend instead booking with 100,000 KrisFlyer miles, especially as KrisFlyer offers lower change and cancellation/redeposit fees than United MileagePlus and Aeroplan.
4. Asiana A380 First Class Suites via Seoul: 100,000 KrisFlyer miles
All of the above awards are nonstop flights from the U.S. to Tokyo, but if you don’t mind a connection in Seoul, you could use 100,000 KrisFlyer miles to fly Asiana First Class Suites on the A380 from JFK to Seoul, then Asiana Business Class on the short flight between Seoul and Tokyo. While I don’t find the Asiana First Class bed as comfortable as Singapore Suites or JAL First Class, due to Asiana’s rather then mattress pad, it is a suite product with closing doors, excellent Korean cuisine (including a preorder service on flights departing from Seoul), very polite service, and Bulgari amenity kits.
Best Tokyo Luxury Hotels
1. Aman Tokyo
If price is no object, Aman Tokyo is my top pick for Tokyo, as a gorgeous new property with spacious Deluxe Rooms (the largest entry-level rooms in Tokyo, at 764 square feet) with traditional o-furo soaking tubs, Tokyo’s loveliest hotel swimming pool with panoramic city views, a tranquil atmosphere that is a welcome respite from Tokyo’s hustle and bustle, and attentive service. The weakest aspect is perhaps the restaurant, which sometimes disappoints, but Tokyo abounds in incredible foodie experiences and it would be a crime not to dine outside the hotel during your stay.
Aman Tokyo Virtuoso amenities for TravelSort Clients include:
- Upgrade at time of arrival, subject to availability
- Complimentary Full American Breakfast at The Restaurant by Aman for two daily for duration of the stay
- $100 USD equivalent Food & Beverage credit to be utilized during stay (not combinable, not valid on room rate, no cash value if not redeemed in full)
- Early Check-in/Late Check-out (subject to availability)
2. Mandarin Oriental Tokyo
If your budget doesn’t quite stretch to Aman Tokyo, my next recommendation would be the Mandarin Oriental Tokyo, which is located in Nihonbashi, near boutiques and restaurants, about a 15 minute walk from Tokyo Station, and a 20 minute walk to the Imperial Palace East Garden. The hotel offers offers excellent and attentive service, one of Tokyo's best spas, and the acclaimed Sushi Sora sushi bar on the 38th floor–be sure to make reservations in advance, as it has just 8 seats.
Mandarin Oriental Tokyo FAN Club amenities for TravelSort Clients include:
- USD 100 Food & Beverage or Spa Credit, per room per stay
- Daily full breakfast for two persons
- Complimentary High Speed Internet Access during stay
- Personalized welcome amenity
- One category room upgrade, subject to availability at time of check-in
3. The Peninsula Tokyo
At the Peninsula Tokyo, I recommend reserving at least a Deluxe Park View Room so as to enjoy a view of the Imperial Gardens. While the hotel doesn’t have much in the way of a lobby, this isn’t an issue if you reserve it as a TravelSort Client with PenClub and Virtuoso amenities, since a great PenClub benefit is flexible check-in and check-out times.
This means that if you have an early arrival into Tokyo or a late departure into Tokyo, you are guaranteed to either be able to check-in early or check-out late from your reserved room, or to have an alternate room until your reserved room is ready for check-in or a courtesy room after you have to depart your reserved room. This way you can still have a shower or sleep without having to book the night before your arrival or the night after your departure.
PenClub and Virtuoso amenities include:
- Upgrade on arrival, subject to availability
- American Breakfast for up to two in-room guests daily
- $100 USD Equivalent Food & Beverage credit, to be utilized during stay (not combinable, not valid on room rate, no cash value if not redeemed in full)
- PenClub PenTime flexible check-in and check-out times
- Complimentary 30 minute extension on any 50-minute body or facial spa treatment (excluding manicure and/or pedicure) when booked in advance
4. Four Seasons Tokyo at Marunouchi
The Four Seasons Tokyo is usually my top recommendation for families, since Four Seasons has truly mastered the art of extending luxury touches to younger guests, as well as parents. But it’s also an incredibly convenient choice in Tokyo, since it is right by Tokyo Station, so it’s easy to take the Narita Express to and from the hotel, or for that matter the shinkansen to Kyoto or elsewhere in Japan, and kids who enjoy trains will love having a view of the comings and goings of Japanese trains. The Four Seasons Tokyo is also small, with just 57 rooms and suites, so perfect for a more boutique experience than at the larger Mandarin Oriental and Peninsula, and even smaller than Aman Tokyo, which has over 80 rooms and suites.
Four Seasons Preferred Partner benefits include:
- Daily full American breakfast for two people per bedroom, served through In-Room Dining or in the hotel restaurant (including buffets)
- Food and beverage credit of USD100
- Upgrade of one category, based on availability at time of check-in (excluding signature suites and villas)
- Welcome note at check-in acknowledging you and your travel agency and the amenities that are being extended
- Complimentary basic Internet in all guest rooms, complimentary premium Internet in all suites.
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