The Japanese have a reputation for perfection in nearly everything they do, and that includes hotels. As expected, they’ve recently created some  architectural and design hotel masterpieces during the city’s run-up to hosting the 2020 Summer Olympic Games.

But on a recent visit to Japan, as I walked through five of Tokyo’s newest upscale hotels, it was a series of little things these big hotels do that really caught my eye.

When planning my trip, I contacted Manami Kobayashi of the Tokyo Tourism office in San Francisco for some help with a list of the newest Tokyo hotels. Then I got to work scheduling a series of back-to-back appointments with each hotel to get a look inside. I’m sort of a hotel freak, and as you might imagine, I loved just about every hotel I saw.

While the Olympics will of course be a big draw, Japanese tourism will also get a boost throughout the coming year due to all the media attention surrounding the games.

So for those of you considering a trip to Japan this year, come along with me through central Tokyo and get my take on this eminently walkable city’s five newest upscale hotels, all of which have opened in the last two years. And to see the seven “little things” that impressed me most, take a spin through the slideshow at the top of this post.

The first stop on my whirlwind hotels tour was the Hyatt Centric Ginza, which opened in 2018. This 12-floor, 164-room hotel is located in the heart of the busy Ginza shopping and entertainment district in a revamped building that once housed the giant Asahi Shimbun newspaper. With a nod to that history, the hotel’s interior design includes touches such as line-type blocks for room numbers, art made with old printing press parts, or folded color newspapers. All near and dear to a media type like me! Centric is a new mid-scale Hyatt brand meant to appeal to millennials, and I noticed some edgy new things like a check in “cube” in the middle of the lobby instead of the traditional, and sometimes imposing, check in desk. Rooms (which start at about 280 square feet) incorporate thoughtful touches like sinks with hinged covers to provide more counter space. My hotel tour guide invited me to lunch at the hotel’s buzzy Namiki 667 Restaurant with a open kitchen and French-trained Japanese chef. Feeling a bit of jet lag, comfort food sounded good and my server explained that in Japan, beef curry with rice vies with ramen for top billing among favorite comfort foods. I was not disappointed! It was sure tasty, but it’s not the most Instagrammable dish– see the slideshow to find out why. Since this is a Hyatt, you can expect to be surrounded by mostly other Americans and a sprinkling of Japanese and international guests. Rooms start at around $350 per night– but the best ones are the upper floor “view suites” which start at about $500 per night. 6 Chome-6-7 Ginza, Chuo City, Tokyo

After lunch and some amazing window shopping for which the tony Ginza district is famous, I walked to my next new hotel, perched high above the urban bustle: The Gate Hotel Tokyo by Hulic, which also opened in late 2018. This 164-room hotel sits at the top of a shiny, black glass, 13-floor multi-purpose development on Ginza’s western side near the Imperial Gardens. A unique feature? In crowded Tokyo, the hotel is a standalone building so most rooms have striking views of the the skyline and teeming streets below, including one of those mesmerizing intersections that alternately fill with vehicles or pedestrians as traffic lights change. It also has several open-air terraces where guests can take in these views. One of the first little things I noticed about the hotel is that it provides small stands or tables at about hip level at the front desk where arriving guests can place their bags or belongings instead of the floor during check in.  A simple solution and a nice touch! (See the slideshow up top for a look). Hulic is a Japanese real estate company with two hotels in Tokyo. Anchor Tokyo, the hotel’s lobby restaurant offers all-day western-style dining for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Rooms, all with Nespresso machines, small refrigerators and free WiFi, start at about $280 per night. Ask for a corner “luxe” room for the best views and more space. The hotel attracts about half Japanese and half international guests. 223 Yurakucho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo

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After spending 11 hours on an overnight flight from San Francisco, I was ready for more walking. Google Maps said I could get to my next stop in about 35 minutes. It was a lovely late autumn day with a surprising amount of color left in tree leaves, so I took a long walk south of the Imperial Gardens to what I think is the new “best hotel in town,” The Okura Tokyo, which just opened its doors in September. It’s also likely one of the most expensive, with rooms starting at a whopping $700 per night. At one time, the Okura was a mid-century-modern gem, built in 1962 and lovingly maintained over the years. But time, wear and tear took their toll, so owners closed and demolished the original structure and spent four years replacing it with two elegant glass towers, with a total of 508 rooms. What’s really cool is that to appease a movement to #savetheokura, the hotel re-created the original hotel’s modernist lobby to a T, including original chairs, lacquered tables, carpeting, shoji screens, a world clock, and lighting in the ground floor of the 41-story Prestige Tower. (See the slideshow at the top for a look inside. Also, the hotel’s mod South Wing annex is still operating as a separate hotel but is set to be demolished in 2021.) After checking in, guests walk to a lobby where a hostess in traditional garb bows and directs them to the next elevator up to their sumptuously serene rooms. The hotel is located in the upscale Toranomon/Roppongi area, and overlooks the posh U.S. Ambassador’s residence and the adjacent US Embassy. Guests staying in upper floors can see the brand new National Stadium (home to the opening and closing ceremonies for next summer’s Olympic Games), and on a clear day, Mount Fuji looming to the west. Super high-rollers should check into the exclusive and serene, 17-floor Heritage Wing, with only 140 rooms and rates starting at $1,000 per night. Hallways, elevators and rooms all exude a rich, serene zen that’s a welcome break from the frantic city. If someone else was paying, this is where I’d stay. 1-10-4 Toranomon, Minato-ku, Tokyo.

Photo: Chris McGinnis

Looking north from the Okura Tokyo hotel, guests can see the brand new National Stadium, home to the 2020 Summer Olympic Games opening and closing ceremonies.

After soaking in all that zen in at the Okura, I was back on the street hoofing it to the most unusual hotel on my tour: The Hotel Azabu Ten. This treasure of a hotel, which opened in May, is smack in the middle of the residential Azabu-Juban neighborhood, home to executives, celebrities and diplomats. While I waited for my tour in the lobby, I overheard an in-the-know Hollywood type couple checking out, and thanking the staff for creating this secret hideaway. The hotel has only nine rooms on four floors connected by a tiny elevator and a smart, slate staircase. I know this sounds strange, but none of the rooms has views; instead, they all look out to interior gardens, which sounds claustrophobic, but it’s not. That’s because the focus of the rooms is on the unusual design of each, which makes them cozy, completely quiet jewel boxes loaded up with modern Italian Cassina furniture, big marbled bathrooms with soaking tubs, Baccarat chandeliers and bright white walls. The hotel’s website calls this “compact luxury.” It was the perfect test for the wide angle lens on my new iPhone 11! Next to the tiny lobby is the equally tiny Totanuki restaurant, where you can dine on an elaborate free breakfast or “free flow” sushi at night created by Michelin-starred chefs. Average rates are around $500 per night, but last minute discounting can bring them as low as $300. Minibars and luxury car rides to and from the airport are complimentary. If soaring glass and steel hotel towers are not your bag, and you are looking for a nice residential feel for your next stay, this place is for you. 2-6-8 Higashi Azabu, Minato-ku

The last hotel on my tour was back up in Ginza, the cultural center of the city, at the 121 room Royal Park Canvas Ginza 8, which opened in March 2019. There’s no denying Tokyo (especially Ginza) is expensive to visit, so rates at this hotel were refreshing — they start as low as $200 per night, which is great value for central Tokyo. But in Tokyo and elsewhere, you get what you pay for in terms of space. Rooms are small (the smallest at about 190 square feet) but well-thought-out. Sinks are part of the sleeping room, but there are separate toilet and tub/shower rooms.  The clubby, hipster, musical and millennial feel of the lobby and hallways reminded me of W hotels. Guests gather to work or socialize in communal spaces such as the music library full of big leather sofas and semi-private work stations or tea salon with an adjacent kitchen. Grab and go drinks and snacks are available at a stand in the lobby. A little thing I liked at this hotel (and others) are special, hermetically sealed and well-ventilated smoking rooms. This keeps guests and their habits from huddling on the sidewalks by the hotel’s front door — a creative solution to an odorous problem. 8-9-4 Ginza, Chuo Ward, Tokyo

Are you a Tokyo regular? What’s your favorite hotel there? Or a “small thing” at a hotel that made a big impression on you? Tell us in THE COMMENTS.

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Chris McGinnis is SFGATE’s senior travel correspondent. You can reach him via email or follow him on Twitter or Facebook. Don’t miss a shred of important travel news by signing up for his FREE biweekly email updates!