City Guides: Tokyo and Sydney - Wayne Arnold

Wayne Arnold, global CEO at MullenLowe Profero Global gives us his insider tips on Tokyo and Sydney.


Best hotel for pleasure?
You are spoilt for choice in Tokyo when it comes to luxury hotels. If you want to experience Japanese hospitality at its most splendid and austere, stay at the Imperial (it’s Old Imperial Bar echoes the Frank Lloyd Wright era architecture, and does killer sandwiches at lunch); at its most personalised and nuanced the Seiyo Ginza is hard to beat, and has the best bathrooms in Japan I am told, which is saying something. For all out comfort and a western, family-like atmosphere the Peninsular with it’s gorgeous pool might be the one, and their fleet of classic cars including a 1934 Rolls Royce Phantom II could chauffeur you to your morning meeting too.

Best bar for celebrating?
For celebrating in Tokyo you have to go local, and head down any backstreet and listen out for raucous laughter and the sounds of waiters shouting welcomes to their patrons to find a popular izakaya (food and drink). But for something more unique there is no better adventure than plunging into Shinjuku’s Golden-Gai district where ancient two story buildings house a plethora of atmospheric bars. Most of the bars express their owner’s penchant for an obscure subculture, lending a random theme to any celebration, often enriched through interaction with ebullient locals.

Best bar for a business drink?
All the major hotels boast excellent bars with views over the sprawling city, but if you like your business talk over hand carved balls of ice, then an authentic whisky bar is for you. Fast becoming a whisky capital in its own right thanks to Japan’s own excellent brands like Hibiki and Yamazaki, the studied oak-clad decor of bars like Hibiya Bar Whisky-S and Star Bar, both in the Ginza district, complete with bow-tied bar tenders with encyclopedic knowledge of the World’s whisky, will take you ever so respectively back to an era when business was oh-so-different. They will mix you a fine cocktail too so don’t be shy.

Best restaurant for a business lunch?
Tokyo is an epicure’s heaven, so it is hard to go wrong, but if you want to seal the deal somewhere memorable then climb to the 33rd Floor of the New Otani hotel. Built in time for the 1964 Olympics, the whole of the 33rd floor is spinning at a laconic speed, allowing you to take in a 360 view of Tokyo every 10 minutes or so. Today New Otani has upped the culinary stakes, offering a wide selection of styles, from teppanyaki steak to sushi, all prepared in front of your eyes, so however picky your business partner-to-be there will be something delicious to their liking.

How to spend an hour in-between meetings?
Although Tokyo is not known for its coffee, it should be. The new artisanal coffee stands are springing up everywhere now, but all the main districts have a few of the old style coffee bars left, where deliciously smooth coffee percolates out of glass bulb contraptions heated over a bunsen flame and is served with thick fresh cream, or black if you prefer. Look out for an old fashioned coffee sign and dark wood, and dive in, and if you are lucky it might just be a jazz coffee bar and you can settle in and enjoy some of the old greats with your coffee.

If you only have time to do one thing in this city, do this…
After 5 years of promising to go there and not making it to the fish market in Tokyo, I finally managed to get up at the requisite 4am to head to Tsukiji to see the tuna auction and enjoy the fresher-than-fresh sushi at one of it numerous sushi joints, washed down with a beer or two at 5am. It is strangely appropriate for the early start and not to be missed. Make sure you order a trio of lean, medium and fatty tuna to compare.


Best hotel for pleasure?
The Sebal Manly sits rights across from the famous Manly Beach and boasts one of the best hotel locations in Sydney. A morning swim followed by a stroll along the Manly waterfront takes in countless shops, cafes and bars and offers a very relaxed, coastal vibe. The relatively secluded suburb makes it hard to believe you’re a stone’s throw from Australia’s largest city centre.

Honorable mention goes to the Blue Hotel in Woolloomooloo Bay. Occupying a prime position on Finger Wharf, this boutique hotel in the heart of Sydney city offers a unique vantage point, sitting out over the water and looking onto either the Botanical Gardens to the west, or the naval base to the east. If you like a run it is the start and finish of probably the greatest city run in the world and Harry’s Café  de Wheels is there to reward you at the end, go for a Harry’s Tiger, you have earnt it.

Best bar for celebrating?
The Baxter Inn on Clarence Street is tucked down and alley and then hidden again down a flight of stairs, but the experience is worth seeking out. Picture underground speakeasy mashed with up-market whisky bar and you’re getting close. Great for conversation, and the limited space makes a good icebreaker for expanding the celebrations.

Best bar for a business drink?
Palmer and Co, continuing the early 20th century theme, steps right out of the 1920’s to offer one of the best bar experiences in Sydney. Great quality drinks, food and service make this underground lair a great location for business-based socializing – although be warned, you probably wont want to leave.

Best restaurant for a business lunch?
Café Sydney serves outstanding modern Australian cuisine in a relaxed contemporary interior. Also, it sits on top of Customs House, right on Circular Quay, overlooking the Harbour Bridge, and the Opera House, and Luna Park, and Sydney Harbour. Need I say more?

How to spend an hour in-between meetings?
Head for Surry Hills to explore boutique shops and sniff out the best coffee in the world. My personal tip is Sample Coffee on Holt Street. Surry Hills sits right next to the Sydney CBD and it’s hilly geography and low terrace houses offer a very different but no less worthy experience to that of the iconic Sydney waterfront.

If you only have time to do one thing in this city, do this…
A ferry ride to Manly will take you out through the harbor, past the headlands and directly to one of Australia’s most iconic suburbs (besides Bondi). Once at Manly, head to Hugo’s on Manly Wharf for a cocktail, a wood-fired pizza and a relaxing afternoon in the sun. Tough to beat.

(A personal thanks to the MullenLowe Profero teams around the world for ensuring I get to discover these places - Wayne Arnold.)

Browse more City Guides here.


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