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Saturday, Feb. 19, 2011

Akasaka Prince hotel starts nostalgic farewell

Kyodo News

Ahead of its closure at the end of March, Tokyo's once ultra-chic Grand Prince Hotel Akasaka is hosting a series of farewell events, some of them a throwback to the 1980s, when the nation was indulging in the excesses of the bubble economy.

News photo
End of an era: The Grand Prince Hotel Akasaka towers over Tokyo's Akasaka district. The 40-story bubble era icon will close at the end of March. KYODO PHOTO

Better known as the Akasaka Prince, or "Aka Puri," the top-of-the-line hotel was one of the trendiest dating scenes in the bubble days.

As its closure approaches, the hotel in Chiyoda Ward's trendy Akasaka district has been attracting those with nostalgic memories of time spent there.

The hotel opened in 1955 with about 30 guest rooms, and the original two-story building remains intact as the old Guest House today. The hotel added a 40-story annex designed by the late architect Kenzo Tange in 1983.

Until it closes, the hotel is featuring a nightly dessert buffet at a cocktail lounge on the top floor, where people once formed long lines to enjoy the night view of the city.

For guests nostalgic for the vibrant night life of the 1980s, the hotel is offering an accommodation package that includes a visit to the high-end disco Maharaja, one of iconic nightclubs of the time and a recent returnee to the sleepless Roppongi district, as well a visit to a club with live performances of music from the bubble era.

In the lobby, a photo exhibit recalls the hotel's heyday, when its swimming pool was packed and its restaurants filled with couples decked out in the latest fashions.

The hotel is also asking people to send in messages and photos of their memories of the hotel, such as weddings and first stays in Tokyo, it said. Some of the messages have already been posted on its web page.

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