The vibe: A Japan-meets-Scandinavia-style retreat in a leafy corner of Shibuya
Location: 1-15-2 Tomigaya Shibuya-ku Tokyo 151-0063 | View on Google Maps
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The AFAR take
In contrast to the dazzling skyline vistas that the city’s ever-proliferating skyscraper hotels look over, views at the low-slung Trunk(Hotel) Yoyogi Park frame the canopy of Yoyogi Park, one of the city’s largest green spaces. Located across the street from the hotel, the park unfurls in a patchwork of cypress and camphor trees, with only a handful of towers peeking above its tree line—a rare oasis in this sprawling city of close to 14 million people.
For this new addition to the homegrown hotel collection, Trunk(Hotel) teamed up with Tokyo-based architecture firm Keiji Ashizawa Design and Danish design studio Norm Architects. The result, a Japanese Scandinavian mash-up of washi paper lights and curvy furniture in muted hues, only adds to the Zen-like vibe. But it’s not all hush-hush: The rooftop features a park-facing infinity pool and clubby pool lounge where you might brush shoulders with the who’s-who of Tokyo’s creative scene.
Who’s it for?
Trunk(Hotel) Yoyogi Park offers a Japandi (Japanese Scandinavian) inspired aesthetic that design lovers will appreciate. The intimate hideaway is a welcome retreat after a day exploring Tokyo’s more hectic corners, making it a tranquil base for those who want to tap into the city’s buzz on their own terms. Travelers who prefer to embed themselves in Tokyo’s shopping and nightlife scenes should opt for the hotel’s sister property, the original Trunk(Hotel), on boutique-lined Cat Street nearby. It’s just as cool, but thanks to its popular co-working space and lobby bar, it’s a lot livelier. Trunk(Hotel) Yoyogi Park welcomes kids, and you’ll find plenty of littles splashing about in the pool, but given the snug size of the rooms, the hotel is better suited for couples and solo travelers.
The hotel has a Shibuya postcode, but don’t let that fool you. Shibuya’s low-slung Tomigaya neighborhood, where the hotel is located, couldn’t feel farther away from the neon signs and tourist-trampled crosswalks associated with the district. This is Tokyo in the slow lane, a maze of traffic-free alleys packed with hidden sake bars, pint-size izakayas, and dozens of hip concept stores. (The Tokyo outpost of lifestyle bible Monocle is around the corner.)
Then there’s Yoyogi Park. Its walking trails are a 10-minute stroll from the hotel lobby, while the Meiji Shrine is a 20-minute walk away. And if Tomigaya and Yoyogi start to become too quiet for your liking, the organized chaos of downtown Shibuya lies about 15 minutes away on foot.
The intimate hideaway is a tranquil base for those who want to tap into the city’s buzz on their own terms.
With only 25 rooms and suites spread over five floors, the hotel is a snug affair. Every accommodation is all straight lines and clad from floor to ceiling in a soothing palette of cream and ash-blond woods, with licks of copper and grit-blasted concrete. Most rooms have a balcony covered in plants (needless to say, the 20 rooms facing Yoyogi Park are the ones to angle for), while all offer spacious showers and open-plan bathrooms. The suites, with their additional living area and an extra balcony, offer a lot more space, while the penthouse-like Owner’s Suite on the rooftop offers an unbeatable combination of private rooftop nooks, a light-flooded living room, and an indoor-outdoor bathroom area.
Amenities are of the wish-I-could-steal-'em kind. Trunk(Hotel) teamed up with Japanese creatives to customize everything from the bespoke leather shoehorns by Fabric, a long-standing leatherwork studio in Tokyo’s Shitamachi district, to the DND door tags with illustrations by Akina Haga. Admirable ecofriendly touches include silk-soft wool blankets on the beds made with yarn spun from discarded clothing, and cups and coasters in the bathrooms made from leftover tile scraps.
The food and drink
Pizzeria e Trattoria L’Ombelico, the hotel’s all-day restaurant, takes over most of the building’s breezy ground floor. The menu, spearheaded by chef Yu Inoue of popular Tokyo trattoria L’Arte in Sangenjaya, is pan-Italian, so expect seafood platters, salumi (Italian meats), and mozzarella-topped Neapolitan pizzas baked in a copper-clad oven. The restaurant is already popular with locals, which in a food-mad city like Tokyo, whose culinary scene excels in the pizza category, is always a good sign. That means it does get busy, though, so book ahead if you’re after one of the tables on the outdoor terrace, which is especially lovely for people-watching in the morning.
Breakfast is served here too. The menu covers most of the classics (think scrambled eggs, salmon Benedict, and vanilla-speckled French toast) alongside health-focused mains such as kale and quinoa salads and granola yogurt bowls. Guests can opt to order their breakfast at the poolside lounge upstairs, which later in the day turns into a sultry seafood spot with Japanese and imported oysters, and crab and lobster on ice. They’re paired with creative drinks from such unconventional ingredients as aquafaba (chickpea water), fuji apple puree, and vodka infused with cucumber, basil, and olive oil. As a sipper who likes to keep his alcohol intake to a minimum, I loved that the nonalcoholic drinks come with equal flair—they include mixes from kombucha, tonic, and ginger ale.
Staff and service
The clued-in staff is a mix of stylish locals and young expatriates from across the globe. Their friendly and unfussy service reflected the laid-back vibe of the hotel, though sometimes it could’ve been a little more assertive—especially in the restaurant, where on both days of my stay I had to wait a good 30 minutes for my breakfast order to arrive.
There are no steps to the lobby and ground-floor restaurant, and an elevator reaches every floor. However, no rooms are adapted specifically for travelers with disabilities.
Sip and dip
Bring your swimsuit—and plenty of sunscreen. There’s no gym, but the rooftop pool is long enough for laps (or a lazy poolside afternoon with a good book). For a more intensive workout, the staff can point you toward the best jogging routes around Yoyogi Park, which a sign on the hotel’s elevator control panel cheekily refers to as a “BIG GYM.”