For starters, the toilet seat in the bathroom automatically warms up when you sit on it. That eliminates the discomfort of having to plop down on a bathroom throne that's been rendered ice-cold by the air-conditioning seeping into the room. Lamigin ako, so this technology was heaven-sent for me. The seat also comes with an automatic deodorizer and a built-in "shower" that at first I thought was used to open the real shower, but turned out to be a very handy way to, uh, clean up. We've got those water hoses now in some of our rest rooms here, but as usual, the Japanese have done better by installing retractable water spouts inside the toilet bowl itself. Bullseye!
Take a hot shower, and what happens? The mirror fogs up, naturally. Swissotel's large bathroom mirrors, however, have a surprise: they will fog up, except for that portion by the sink where you will shave, brush your teeth, examine your face, etc. Saves you the trouble of wiping the mirror, while gently telling you that the hotel has anticipated your need.
And the first time I turned on the TV, a welcome message appeared on screen with my name on it! That's how personalized the service is. I looked for a pair of slippers, and there were two, with a note saying I could take them with me when I checked out of the hotel. They also came with two pairs of soft pajamas--another improvement over standard five-star hotel fare. The pajamas were changed everyday. I don't wear PJs to sleep, but at Swissotel, what the hell, I had them on for as long as I could.
The best touch for me was a very human gesture: the hotel's "weather forecast" cards. It's winter right now in Osaka, with temperatures dropping to 3 degrees C and lower. Every night, as you stagger into your room after a day of hunkering in your bulky, shapeless clothing against the piercing cold outside, you will find a small white card on your bed (in English and Japanese) telling you the weather forecast for tomorrow. These are not machine-generated cards. The room attendant assigned to clean up your room patiently writes down the high and low temperatures for the next day, then signs the card at the bottom. One day it was Imori, the next it was Arai. I never got to meet them, but I appreciated very much the hotel's effort to help its guests prepare for how they should dress up the next day.
The only kink I saw in the hotel was the rather bland breakfast buffet every day. But then, I don't usually eat breakfast anyway, so it was no big deal. The meal coupon allowed me to sample salmon in the morning. That was a good enough luxury for me.
P.S. Highlight of my trip: dinner and chat with two real geisha in Kyoto. More soon.