Part hotel, part restaurant, part event space and part design shop, this hip and quirky boutique hotel delivers an unexpected dose of design culture in Tokyo’s off-the-beaten path Meguro neighborhood.
Written by Caroline Hughes
n the buzzing metropolis of the world’s largest city, you’ll find plenty of big, famous – and expensive – five-star hotels. The Claska Hotel is something else entirely. One of a few boutique hotels in Tokyo, the Claska is filled with quirky, authentic character and a decidedly cool jet-set vibes, setting it (very far) apart from cookie-cutter chain hotels.
The hotel was remodeled from the old business hotel New Meguro Hotel in 2003 as a collaboration between the English design firm Tomato and up and coming Japanese designers. The minimalist aesthetic of the space is thoughtful and well designed, but still retains the energy and slightly rough-around-the-edges feel from a past time. Not all rooms are created equal at the Claska, and the hotel is often booked months in advance. Each room is completely distinct, so guests often do their research and reserve a specific room. This unique approach gives the hotel an especially personalized touch.
The hotel’s 20 rooms are divided into four categories – “Modern”, “Tatami”, “Contemporary” and “DIY”. “Modern” is a mix of Japanese and Scandinavian style, with clean lines and plenty of space. “Tatami” rooms highlight the traditional Japanese way of living, simple tatami mats and beds infuse these rooms with a feeling of zen. The “Contemporary” rooms were the most recently renovated, no frills, but comfortable and simple. The “DIY” rooms have been created by up and coming Japanese designers, with each piece of furniture doubling as art.
Claska’s restaurant Kiokuh is situated right in the lobby, ideal for people watching over a pot of tea or cocktail and a relaxed and easy gathering place for visitors. The restaurant’s French-based menu serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. There are two options for breakfast – either a Japanese or an American meal. While simplicity is the name of the game, each meal is served with plenty of well-made, delicious food.
Once guests have made the trip out there, plenty of noteworthy activities onsite and in the neighborhood will keep you busy. With gallery and rooftop terrace available for rent, there are often events or exhibits happening, adding to the buzz in the lobby. From the couches and tables in the restaurant, you can peek into the neighboring upscale pet grooming salon called Dogman – an entertaining and unexpected touch. Claska’s fantastic shop “DO” sells a well-curated mix of Japanese clothing and housewares. Certainly not your traditional souvenir shop, this is a destination in itself, where ceramics, artisan fabrics, and trendy clothes abound.
Take advantage of the hotel’s complimentary bikes to explore the many interior design shops and restaurants sprinkled throughout this low-key neighborhood. Meguro is slightly off-the-beaten path, allowing the Claska to be an entirely different hotel from the Lost in Translation experience at the hotels in Shinjuku, Shibuya and Roppongi Hills. But anyone who makes the trip will be well rewarded for the extra effort it takes to get there.