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A Mile-High, High-End Stay

Our writer experiences the soothing comforts of The Room, All Nippon Airways' boutique hotel experience in the sky.

A photograph of THE Room Shop THE Room



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WHAT IF YOU could check in to an architecturally distinct, boutique hotel in Los Angeles, New York, or Chicago, and check out the next morning in Tokyo? The Room, All Nippon Airways’ reimagined business class designed by famed Japanese architect Kengo Kuma, delivers just that: a chic hotel in the sky with all-night room service that glides you to Japan. ANA also has an extensive network within Japan with flights from Tokyo to Kyushu, as well as Kyushu to Osaka.

I find long-haul flights anxiety-inducing and have tried all kinds of strategies to ensure I sleep through them. Some of my tactics may be healthier than others, I’ll admit, but I needed no help in The Room. My flight from Los Angeles International Airport to Haneda Airport left just past midnight and arrived in Tokyo at 5 a.m. When I boarded, I couldn’t believe the amount of space and privacy in my room, which was outfitted with a 24-inch flatscreen TV and a wide, sofa-sized, lie-flat seat — the largest in its class at up to 38 inches — with plush bedding from Nishikawa, a Japanese bedding brand focused on sleep quality.



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The Room was inspired by multifunctional, minimalist Japanese living spaces. Kuma’s choices reflect sensibilities expressed throughout his distinguished work around the world. (Once you arrive in Japan, I recommend exploring the many Kuma highlights in Tokyo: the National Stadium, Haruki Murakami Library, and origami-inspired Takanawa Gateway Station. In Kyoto: the Ace Hotel and Koé Donuts exemplify his ability to draw the traditional into modern design.)

Levels of personal privacy aboard The Room can be adjusted with the push of a button, which raises and lowers sliding screens and doors in each compartment. Tranquil wood paneling in rosewood and Japanese ash accent multiple discrete compartments for personal belongings and add warmth to the Zen-like space. Instead of being anxious, I was excited to cocoon myself in there for the next 12 hours.


My rule of thumb is simply never to eat airplane food, but when I saw that Ippudo ramen was on the menu, I couldn’t resist. I used to live a block from the Japanese restaurant chain Ippudo’s first New York City location, and it quickly became a weekly indulgence. To have a hot bowl of what I still consider to be the best ramen while sitting on my airplane sofa was utterly sublime. It’s hard to believe that anything as delicious and comforting as those creamy, plant-based noodles could be offered in the air.

ANA’s food offerings impress all around. There are 24 different meals available in business and first class, including vegan and gluten-free options, all served on beautiful Japanese tableware. Two meal services were offered on my flight with Japanese kaiseki, a traditional multicourse dinner, and Western cuisine options. Any item can also be ordered a la carte throughout the flight. I ordered the Ippudo ramen a second time before landing, after a breakfast of sashimi, and again twice on my return flight home.

The delights continued: Even the bathrooms were roomy with windows, full-length mirrors, and bidet toilets. A Globe-Trotter 1897 amenity kit including face mist, lip balm, an eye mask, and a toothbrush set got me ready for bed. The Nishikawa-designed mattress pad, memory-foam pillows, and warm featherweight duvet transformed the seat into a plush, roomy bed. The length and width of the seat could almost accommodate another body. A bonus touch: The active-noise control setting reduces cabin noise when the seat is in the sleeping position. I activated the wake-up mode in the lighting panel, intended to ease your transition to consciousness. When it was time to prepare for landing, The Room lights gradually brightened and changed from a soft color to a brighter white light, mimicking the sunrise. For the first time in my life, I had a good night’s sleep on a plane.

Flying in The Room forever ruined any airline experiences in my future, as this was the most comfortable, delightful flight of my life.

Our Contributors

Maggie Morris Writer

Maggie Morris is a creative director and writer based in Los Angeles.

Ahonen & Lamberg Illustrator

Ahonen & Lamberg is a multidisciplinary design studio based in Paris. Founded in 2006 by Finnish designers Anna Ahonen and Katariina Lamberg, the studio concentrates on art direction, creative consultancy, and graphic design.

Departures and American Express do not provide, endorse, or guarantee any of the items, and the sale of such items is governed by the third-party seller’s policies, terms, and conditions.

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