THE BEST WAY Fly from LAX to Tokyo nonstop on American Airlines, United Airlines, Japan Airlines, All Nippon Airways, Northwest Airlines, Korean Air and Singapore Airlines. To get to Kyoto, fly from LAX to Osaka, 23 miles away. Nippon Airways and Japan Airlines offer connecting service (change of planes). Restricted round-trip fares for either destination begin at $740.
WHERE TO STAY:
Broppongi, 3-9-8 Roppongi, Minato-ku; 011-81-3-5412-0451, www.ishinhotels.com/theb-roppongi/en. This new boutique hotel in the Roppongi nightclub district is a great value, if you don't mind staying in a tiny room. Doubles range from 161 to 323 square feet. The "b" stands for "good breakfast, comfortable bed, balance in your life." It's definitely not for "bathroom"; these are plasticky and cheap. The staff understands very little English. Doubles from $100.
Grand Hyatt Tokyo, 6-10-3 Roppongi, Minato-ku; 011-81-3-4333-1234 or (800) 233-1234, www.grandhyatttokyo.com. In the heart of the fashionable Roppongi Hills district. (a huge development, with cinemas, shopping, restaurants, the Mori Art Museum, residential towers and office buildings) The 389-room, 21-floor hotel is stylish and chic, with a collection of its own destination-worthy restaurants and bars, including the Oak Door steakhouse and bar and Shunbou, a kaiseki and kappou restaurant, plus a well-appointed spa and fitness club with a beautiful red granite indoor pool. Standard rooms are well-designed, with a plush linens, flat-screen TVs in the bedroom and the large bathroom, which has a soaking tub that overflows into a limestone shower. Service throughout the hotel is excellent. The breakfast buffet at the French Kitchen Brasserie & Bar is pricey ($31) but impressive (or stop for good coffee and a croissant at the French Kitchen's bar); another attractive bar, Maduro, features live music every night. Doubles from $481.
Ritz-Carlton Tokyo, Tokyo Midtown 9-7-1 Akasaka, Minato-ku; 011-81-3-3423-8000 or (800) 241-3333, www.ritzcarlton.com. Tokyo's newest hotel manages to avoid feeling too much like a Ritz-Carlton. The 248-room hotel is tall and splashy (the tower is the tallest in Tokyo); the impressive lobby, with its huge Sam Francis paintings, waterfall and lobby bar, is on the 45th floor. Standard rooms are 560 square feet and as luxurious as you would expect from a Ritz, with magnificent city views (from one side, you can see Mt. Fuji on a clear day) and Bulgari amenities. Where else would you find a $420 bottle of Rémy Martin Louis XIII Cognac in the mini-bar? Doubles from $569.