Ikebukuro is known for being the Akihabara for women, so of course I had to check out the male version of the maid cafe, the famous Swallowtail Butler Cafe.
To get to the cafe you have to take a flight of nondescript stairs down from the street level. Once you get to the entrance it’s like walking into an entirely different world. You’re greeted by a white-gloved butler who welcomes you and asks if you have a reservation. You need a reservation, so be sure to make one.
When it is finally your turn to enter into the cafe you’re passed through a few mansion-style front doors that give you the illusion of entering a beautiful home. 2 entry-way butlers politely introduced themselves, helped me out of my coat, then and took my purse. Next he lovingly folded my coat and draped it over his arm, gesturing that it was time for me to walk down the hallway and into the dining area.
Inside it is just as fancy and delicate as you imagined. The ceilings are adorned with chandeliers and sconces dripping with crystals. The lighting is warm, but a bit subdued. Each table is masterfully set to welcome the next princess who walks through the door. I couldn’t wait to try it myself.
The well-mannered butlers cater to your every need. And I mean every need. You are given a beautiful bell to ring should you need attention, but my butler was so on top of everything that I never had to ring it. They even poured your tea (and then covered the teapot with a tea cosy, so your beautiful princess eyes didn’t have to look at it!).
Your butler took your plates off the tabletop serving tray, too. You instructed your butler about which dish you wanted to eat next, and he got it and set it in front of you. I wasn’t allowed to do anything that required effort, except eat and drink. I’m surprised they didn’t want to go into the bathroom with me!
I loved everything about the entire dream-like experience except for 1 thing. Phones and cameras were not allowed, so I have nothing but memories. After thinking about it more I think not being allowed to document your time inside the cafe adds to the allure of the experience they want their customers (princesses) to be left with, and encourages diners to return.
The entire experience is in Japanese, except for a couple of things I didn’t understand that our gracious butler tried to tell me in some English. If you don’t have a grasp of basic Japanese you’ll probably need to take someone with you who can translate so you can fully enjoy being treated like a princess for the afternoon.
And YES- I will be going back.