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Japanese hotel brand makes debut in the UK

Prince Hotels has opened the first international hotel under its new five-star brand, Prince Akatoki.

TRFBLI
A suite at the new five star Prince Akatoki hotel in London
A suite at the new five star Prince Akatoki hotel in London

The 82-room hotel opened this week in London and could soon be followed by more hotels under the brand in “key target cities” such as Paris, New York, Singapore and Bangkok. The next confirmed opening will be a hotel in Guangzhou, China in 2020.

 

Outside of Japan, Prince Hotels has properties across multiple brands in Hawaii and Taiwan, but this is its first property in Europe.

 

“London is well known as one of the top three destinations for tourism and business in Europe and is a major financial centre, so this was a rare opportunity to operate a hotel here,” said Masahiko Koyama, president of Prince Hotels. “We are very honoured to be able to start our new overseas luxury brand here.”

 

In London for the launch of the hotel, Koyama told TTG he wasn’t worried about over-capacity in the capital or the impact of Brexit on the market.

 

“We believe business and tourism continue to rise in the UK and don’t believe there are any issues that will adversely affect our progress with the hotel,” he said.

 

Following a multi-million pound transformation of the former The Arch hotel to create an “urban sanctuary”, Prince Akatoki features design by London-based B3 Designers; Tokii, a seasonally Japanese-inspired restaurant; and The Malt Lounge & Bar, which will feature a large range of Japanese teas during the day and rare Japanese whiskies and sakes by night.


Akatoki comes from an old Japanese expression meaning sunrise or dawn and was selected to “represent the new era and imbed a sense of Japanese culture”, said Koyama, adding that the hotel’s general manager Ray Geotz had spent time with the company in Japan learning about Japanese culture and traditions, while a chef has been flown over from Japan to train staff at Tokii.


Koyama stressed wellbeing was also important for the hotel brand. “In Japanese culture, we always wish for success and wellbeing for other people and we reflect this in all of our hotels. As a large business generally, Seibu [which Prince is part of] takes wellness seriously.”

 

The hotel, on Great Cumberland Place near Marble Arch, has as a focal point in each room based on a fusama panel-inspired wall hanging, synonymous with traditional Japanese interior design.

 

Koyama said that in Japanese culture, hospitality is seen as representing a “once in a lifetime opportunity to welcome someone as well as you can, in case you never see them again” in a “calm, considerate and sophisticated way rather than something showy”.

 

“We very much hope that what we have created with the hotel promotes an even stronger recognition of Japanese culture and helps us become better known as a Japanese hotel brand here in the UK,” he said.

 

 

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