One of the best things about London is that there are always hidden gems to discover. Even after living in the city for more than 10 years, I’m often surprised by tucked away streets or venues I never knew existed.
One of my latest discoveries is the Prince Akatoki hotel (the name name meaning ‘dawn’ or ‘sunrise’), which is located around the corner from Portman Square and serves as a tranquil retreat blending Japanese and Scandinavian influences.
Despite its historic guise from the outside, the cosy property has a cool contemporary feel once you step inside.
I checked into the hotel on a Friday afternoon and it was almost at full capacity come the weekend given its prime location around the corner from Oxford Street and various other points of interest.
The friendly receptionist kindly showed me to my room, number 318, which she said was one of her favourite suites, as it sits on the corner of the property and is generously proportioned given its centre-of-town location.
As with the rest of the 82-room hotel, the Executive Junior Suite had a calm feel, with muted tones, light wood flooring and soft lighting.
Features included a large bed with a small lounge area, a flatscreen TV, a desk space complete with a terrarium and a stand decked out with a coffee maker and kettle.
On walking into the spacious marble-clad bathroom I had quite a fright as the toilet seat lid started lifting up. On further inspection, I realised it was an all-singing, all-dancing Toto toilet. A TV in the bathtub was another novel feature, along with rum scented body wash courtesy of high-end brand Malin + Goetz.
After spending a few hours working on the high-speed wifi and slipping into one of the kimono-style robes, I got changed and headed to the ground floor to meet my friend in the TOKii restaurant for dinner.
TOKii is an intimate low lit space that makes for a great place to catch up with friends or pop to on a date. We took a seat in one of the cosy booth-style seating areas and I could just catch a glimpse of the open kitchen area with the chefs in action.
In terms of the menu, TOKii has a fantastic selection of artfully presented Japanese-inspired dishes, with a reasonable price point for the quality of cuisine.
We opted for an assortment of things to share, with our selection comprising spiced edamame, hijiki salad(shiitake, daikon radish, miso), a heritage beetroot salad (yuzu miso, caramelized walnuts), Miso glazed black cod with sweetcorn fried rice for main, along with the Kinoko mushroom cream stew.
While we waited for the food to arrive, we polished off a couple of drinks from the concise cocktail menu, with the absinthe-infused Sazerac recommended for those who like punchy concoctions and the Mezcal-based Ultima Palabra suited to those with slightly sweeter tastes.
Come 8 o’clock the restaurant had a great atmosphere, with fellow dinners ranging from work colleagues to first dates.
The dishes came at a good pace and our favourite picks included the moreish and wonderfully-textured hijiki salad and the melt-in-the-mouth miso cod.
Feeling amply full after our fill we decided to skip dessert and head to the Malt Lounge & Bar. This is a hotel drinking hole I highly recommend and somewhere I would definitely return to for its intimate, low key yet smart atmosphere.
The well-lit back bar features a great selection of tipples and sprigs of cherry blossom hanging from the ceiling adds to the allure.
I opted for a dry vodka martini with an olive garnish. Running on the Asian theme, the bartender used Haku vodka which made for one of the best martinis I’d had in a while, with a clean yet buttery finish.
After hitting another bar in the neighbourhood – there are lots of options on the doorstep! – I returned to the hotel to settle in for the night. I slept like a dream in the large bed and the quiet location of the hotel meant there was no outside disturbance.
I kicked the day off with a quick stint in the basement gym, which has a great little selection of equipment and then ventured back to the restaurant for a buffet breakfast.
The morning selection ranges from noddles to fresh fruit and the a la carte options include the hearty Akatoki Breakfast which consists of tamale omelette, miso soup, rice, steamed vegetables, grilled salmon and egg tofu.
On checking out of the hotel there were people queuing to check-in. My friend the evening before, who is pretty clued up with London, said she had also never heard of the Prince Akatoki.
But it’s clear that this place is quickly gaining momentum as a place to sleep, sip and savour.
I’ll certainly be back to enjoy a dose of its princely charm.
To book a stay or dining experience at the Prince Akatoki visit www.theprinceakatokilondon.com