There’s one Tokyo hotel bar that every guidebook and every traveler will tell you to visit: the New York Bar, suspended fifty-two stories high, in the Park Hyatt Tokyo. Where Scarlett Johansson brooded over a cocktail in Lost In Translation, where jazz music entertains each night, where the views are nothing short of spellbinding.
But on a recent trip to the city, the hotel bar that truly captivated me was clear across town and had no view to speak of. The ceilings low, the atmosphere clubby. Whereas so much of Tokyo, to an American, can seem hopelessly futuristic — the neon signs! the skyscrapers! the hi-tech toilets! (oh, the hi-tech toilets) — Old Imperial Bar is straight out of another era.
It sits within the Imperial Hotel, a Tokyo grande dame lovingly maintained over its 125-plus years of history. Today one of the Leading Hotels of the World, the Imperial first opened in 1890 as an official Meiji government guesthouse for Western dignitaries. In 1923, famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright unveiled the new Imperial, a building of international acclaim. And while that structure no longer stands, nowhere is Wright’s design sense more apparent than in the Old Imperial Bar.