[Hilltop Hotel]

The Hilltop Hotel has received news that it will be closed from February 2024 due to aging. It brought back memories of going there several years ago with a friend to eat pudding a la mode.

Located in Kanda-Surugadai, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo, a 5-minute walk from Ochanomizu Station, the Hilltop Hotel opened in 1954. The Art Deco style building was designed by American architect William Merrell Vories. Originally, when this Western-style building was first built in 1937, it was used by a foundation as a facility to educate people about Western lifestyles and manners. Later, it was commandeered by the Navy during the war, and after the war, it was confiscated by the GHQ and used as quarters for the U.S. Army Women's Corps. Then, in January 1954, Mr. Toshio Yoshida, the founder of the Hilltop Hotel, took over the building from the foundation and began operating it as a hotel.

The Hilltop Hotel is known for its location near Kanda and Jimbocho, where publishers and antiquarian bookstores gather, and for its quiet and cozy atmosphere in Tokyo, as if it were a study or a vacation home, and has been used as a regular lodging by numerous writers and cultural figures, including Kawabata Yasunari, Mishima Yukio, and Ikenami Shotaro. Writers sometimes wrote in what is called "kanzume," and in the days before e-mail and fax machines, the lobby would be filled with publishers waiting for manuscripts to be submitted before deadlines. With only 35 guest rooms, no two rooms have the same layout. The hotel's original cherry bark furniture, chandeliers, tatami mats, and beds are all in harmony with the warmth of the Japanese and Western interiors. And although it is a small hotel, it has seven unique and authentic restaurants and bars, including Tempura, Chinese, and French.

Unfortunately, I have never stayed there before, but I have fond memories of visiting the "Coffee Parlor Hilltop" in the Hilltop Hotel with friends. This parlor is located on the basement floor, but because the hotel is on top of a hill, it has large windows that allow gentle light to stream into the restaurant. The restaurant was full and we had to wait for a while, but during that time, we were told to sit in the lobby and wait. The classical lobby with its yellow-green carpet and spacious leather sofas. The time we spent sitting by the window in the lobby and chatting was the most luxurious, peaceful, and comfortable "waiting time" I have ever experienced in my life.

As we were led to our seats, I looked at the lace on the table and saw the tiny little words "HILLTOP HOTEL" all the way around. My friend and I looked at each other when we spotted it, and the attention to detail, a kind of madness, made me realize once again that the HILLTOP HOTEL is not to be outdone. I ordered the "Hilltop Hotel's Pudding a la Mode," a reissued menu item. The pudding, vanilla ice cream, seasonal fruits, and swan choux were beautifully arranged and looked like a work of art. The scene of that day, including the taste, space, and people, remains as a warm memory like sunlight filtering through trees.

The hotel has been loved by many people for a long time, so it may be difficult to make reservations for a stay before the closure. After I saw the news, I searched for availability, but the dates I wanted were already booked, so it seems unlikely that I will be able to make it. However, I would like to let you know that there are other options for "going out to eat" even if you cannot stay the night, including the coffee parlor Hilltop. I hope that just by using the stores, café, and restaurant in the lobby, you will be able to experience the unique atmosphere and architecture of that place, as if you were on a trip, while thinking about the history that has been nurtured there, and I hope to see the Hilltop Hotel in its current state in about three months.

Hilltop Hotel
Coffee Parlor Hilltop