It’s adamantine to apperceive what Jeeves would accomplish of Lee-san, the butler continuing in advanced of me, ninja-like in his atramentous Yohji Yamamoto compatible and split-toe trainers. One minute he is admiration on a tatami-mat floor, rhythmically whisking matcha, and waxing agreeable about the attentive adorableness in accurately accession the teacup. The next, he is advancement me to ‘go crazy!’ while confined airheaded affair in mirrorball cups below aflame lights in a tiny choice disco afore assuming me his rapping videos on YouTube.
Even added hasty is the actuality that multi-talented Lee-san is not alone. He is one of four (yes, four) consummately avant-garde butlers – all as adeptness and hip as they are accessible – who are on alarm about the alarm to abetment with every whim and desire.
My appointment took abode at Trunk (House). One of Tokyo’s best beautiful (and playful) openings in contempo years, the new one-bedroom auberge is set in a 70-year-old aloft geisha abode in Kagurazaka, a neighbourhood continued dubbed Little Kyoto due to its atmospheric ambagious lanes and acceptable heritage.
Inspired by the abstraction of a modern-day artistic salon, it’s the new little sister of Trunk (Hotel), a 15-room architecture auberge that has become a allurement for DJ parties and appearance pop-ups back aperture in Harajuku two years ago. The two hotels may allotment the aforementioned artistic DNA and appearance for accidental punctuation but they adverse berserk in size. Designed by its centralized architecture aggregation Trunk Atelier additional Tokyo-based flat Tripster, Trunk (House)’s exclusivity is reflected in its diminutive proportions: with aloof one bedroom, it sleeps up to four.
It’s nirvana for avant-garde architecture and art lovers: there are not, I imagine, abounding Tokyo homes that mix tatami mat tearooms, Japanese breadth and a board hinoki bathtub with a Tom Sachs’ installation, mid-century architecture abstract and – the icing on the block – the World’s Aboriginal Disco, a tiny neon-lit amplitude with advanced karaoke and affair on tap.
Putting its exclusivity (and accepted family-friendly credentials) to the test, I visited with my bedmate and two adolescent daughters. The access is as alert as centuries-old ryokan inns: a white breach curtain, with a baby Trunk logo, hangs alongside the aboriginal Japanese signage.
Two butlers appear, as if by magic, abutting to the ache timberline in the baby advanced garden. With admirable smiles, a bow of the arch and the double-handed presentation of business cards, Lee-san and Mori-san calmly acquaint themselves – absorption a avant-garde ability of Japan’s ancestry of omotenashi (that untranslatable chat acclimated to call the art of automatic service).
In the aboriginal stone genkan entrance – complete with a ample moon-like window – we bandy shoes for covering slippers handcrafted by east Tokyo cast Hender Scheme. A quick bout follows: the arena attic has an open-plan kitchen and dining area, a air-conditioned assortment of aphotic woods, blah adhesive walls, terrazzo floors and apparent beams, with assumption lights by New Light Pottery dark aloft a continued oak table, overlooking a baby but altogether coiffed Japanese garden.
A axial metal access (beneath which sits Tom Sach’s tea accoutrement artwork) leads admiral to the active area. Under the aerial board beam are walls of sliding windows, caramel covering basement on metal frames by Stephen Kenn and the angular atramentous curve of a 1950 Jean Prouvé ‘Potence’ bank lamp. Nearby is a small tatami-mat bistro with a alveolate address additional a George Nelson cardboard attic lamp and affiliated annal artwork by Chiaki Hirano.
Just about the bend is the bedroom, a avant-garde booty on the artlessness of Japanese inns: below an ice cream-toned Alex Dodge painting there is a low white bed on a board platform, a bank of metal wardrobes ambuscade gourmet treats (boxes of Higashiya candy amid them) additional an old-school atramentous buzz (my accouchement bleat in contentment at the annular dialling, authoritative me feel actual old).
The accouchement analyze the ablution afore me – and I acquisition them continuing almighty silent, staring at the amplitude aloft the large hinoki cypress copse ablution big abundant to bathe in – at a bold, bright, sexually clear painting by ukiyo-e woodblock book artisan Masumi Ishikawa (staff bound back a rattan dark to adumbrate it).
After a brief, airy check-in (during which the butlers acquaint me of a aggregation of thoroughly avant-garde means to break affiliated with them: WhatsApp, Line, WeChat…), it’s tea commemoration time. With accessible windows framing close rain, Lee-san silently bows on the tatami, afore advancing forest-green matcha (the girls are additionally advised to baby blush teacups of aerated Calpis – a accepted Japanese bendable drink).
As the rain clears up, Mori-san, butler cardinal two, takes us on a airing about Kagurazaka. It’s a languorously boiling Saturday afternoon and we aberrate accomplished Japanese candied makers, tiny French restaurants and ceramics shops. We alike bolt accouchement practising dancing for the local matsuri festival at a temple, below festoons of red lanterns.
When we acknowledgment to Trunk (House), it’s time for dinner. Adamantine at assignment in the kitchen is accomplished chef Masashi Okamoto additional his smiling, tattooed sous-chef. Banquet is as adorable as it’s indulgent: about 10 courses of playful, avant-garde Japanese cuisine. An complete highlight.
The black is crowned by a appointment to the World’s Aboriginal Disco: a allowance accessed via two abundant doors on the arena floor, with a bar, neon signage, bedlam white seats and a behemothic mirrorball, additional buttons to change the lighting, an aflame attic and a hi-tech karaoke machine. Lee-san segues calmly into disco-mode, giving the girls mirrorball ‘cocktails’ of grape abstract as they jump on the daybed to Taylor Swift afore agreement a developed mirrorball popcorn-flavoured cocktail in my hands.
Later, afterwards extricating the girls from karaoke, putting them in the ablution and accepting them to bed, we ascertain addition advantage of so abounding butlers: centralized babysitting. Mori-san takes my bedmate and me about the bend to Fingal, a old-school bar run by Motohiro Tanishima, the buyer of the Trunk (House) building, who mixes impeccably crafted affair from abaft a continued copse counter.
The afterward morning, we adore a final aftertaste of chef Okamoto’s cuisine, with a commonly aggressive breakfast advance – afore accedence to the girls’ argumentation for added karaoke (we were beneath able to accede with their afresh requests to pleeease live in the abode for ever). So at 10am on a Sunday morning, we acquisition ourselves already afresh cocooned central Tokyo’s soon-to-be-hippest affair spot, our ever-smiling butlers not batting an eyelid at the odd hour, and Wham! actuality played on a loop. And it’s accessible that Jeeves would accept thoroughly approved.
Trunk (House) costs from £4,350 per night for up to two people, including clandestine butler, clandestine chef and breakfast. Each added being costs £435.
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