Park Hyatt Tokyo is surprisingly underwhelming

Hotel Review: Park Hyatt Tokyo is surprisingly underwhelming

Country:
Japan
City:
Tokyo
Rating:
five-star
Room:
Park Deluxe King

location:

rooms:

meals:

overall:

What's Hot

  • panoramic views
  • relaxing spa
  • lots of storage space

What's Not

  • awkward location
  • form over function room design
  • disappointing New York Grill

X-Factor

  • top floor pool
  • fast, free wifi

Introduction

Tokyo's Park Hyatt — yes, the one from the movie Lost in Translation — is one of the best known hotels in the Japanese capital.

Renowned for its personal service, chic glamour, interior design and panoramic views, I was really anticipating my stay.

So I was surprised to find a number of serious flaws in the hotel's rooms and service that would make me think twice about returning.

Location & Impressions

The Hyatt occupies the top floors of the Shinjuku Park Tower, a Tokyo landmark.

You can't really get to the Park Hyatt by public transport: it's over a kilometre up the hill from Shinjuku station. There's a shuttle bus, but despite being dropped off twice I never managed to find the pickup point again — even using the map provided, and after taking pictures to remind me where it was.

Taxis aren't much better either. The Park Hyatt is atop Shinjuku Park Tower, one of the biggest office buildings in Tokyo, but the hotel entrance is on the north side. On arrival, the taxi dropped me off at the south entrance, but I couldn't find a way to get from there to the hotel without having to drag my luggage up the stairs through the Park Hyatt patisserie.

Having finally made it to the empty ground floor lobby, I found nobody to assist with my case, so wheeled it into the lift and headed upstairs. (A bad move: you have to walk the full length of the three towers to get from the lift to the lobby, and while the thick carpeting is attractive, it doesn't work for rolling suitcases.)

That also meant that the Park Hyatt's famous trick of the ground floor lobby staffer radioing your name ahead to the reception desk didn't work. I was expecting some of that magic, but it just wasn't there.

Room

Spacious and full of light, the Park Hyatt's rooms

My Park Deluxe King room was large, elegant and fitted the Park Hyatt's boutique niche well.

I'm not sure the green-and-black theme is as timeless as the designer thinks it is, and the beige-on-beige all-marble bathroom is now dated, but these are subjective aesthetic judgments.

Given the size of most Tokyo hotel rooms, I was delighted with the amount of space in this one, and especially the roomy walk-in closet. 

But in terms of how the room worked, it was firmly a case of form over function — a fatal flaw for many upscale hotels where the interior design is valued over practicality.

The bed, for example, is hard. That's not unexpected in Japan, but this was the hardest bed I slept on during my entire month in the country. There's also a hard, fabric-covered footboard. So anyone over six feet tall can't lie flat and poke their feet off the end of the bed. As an international hotel brand, this seemed like a fatal flaw.

The two small armchairs in the room, similarly, weren't especially comfortable. A decent sofa or chaise longue would have been a much better bet.

And the light switches — oh, the light switches. Despite two nights in the hotel I never quite figured out how they worked. The bedside light controls are three unmarked glass knobs on the bedside cabinets — one for the reading light (which shines right in your eyes), and the others for room lights.

I was surprised to hear very clearly sirens and city noise from below. For a relatively modern hotel, the exterior soundproofing was poor.

There are no usable power points near the bed, and tiny bedside tables that wouldn't really fit an iPad anyway. A firm minus in practicality terms.

Work

For business travellers, the Park Hyatt's working facilities are an ergonomic problem.

The room's desk is an afterthought, with no decent work chair.

I ended up on one of the two armchairs with my laptop on a pillow, because the small side table (with its disturbing sculpted hand underneath) next to the armchairs is far too high to rest your laptop on, and has raised fittings on the surface too.

Internet speed is good — 17Mbps down and 13Mbps up — and free.

But the system doesn't keep up with modern devices, dropping iPhones and iPads off the network far too quickly.

Eat

A top-notch breakfast spread at Girandole really hit the spot.

The Park Hyatt has three renowned restaurants: the New York Grill steakhouse, French brasserie Girandole (which is also the location for breakfast) and Japanese option Kozue.

I'm an enthusiastic amateur when it comes to Japanese food, and I thoroughly enjoyed lunch at Kozue. Breakfast in Girandole was wide-ranging, high quality and the to-order options are tops.

The view can't be beat from New York Bar & Grill — but the food certainly can.

But when it came to the famous New York Grill, I was bitterly disappointed.

The "lapel pin and everything" sommelier brought me an unoaked Chardonnay when I'd asked for a recommendation for something with butter and oak, the chowder was thin and watery, and the steak was one of the greasiest pieces of meat I've ever eaten.

My pick: there's a basement level shopping mall with proper Japanese-style office worker restaurants at lunchtime. Head down there for a really interesting cultural experience.

Relax

Floating around in the pool at the Park Hyatt is a real pleasure.

The top-floor pool is a real draw, with panoramic views from the lounge chairs. Don't miss the spa and fitness centre either — a good soak in the Japanese-style tubs after a workout is a real pleasure.

New York Bar at the top of the hotel is spectacular at sunset, but it does get crowded, especially during happy hour. Make sure to reserve a place with the concierge and turn up when it opens to snag a seat with a view.

While Shinjuku Park is right outside the hotel, it's a good twenty-minute walk down a busy road to Shinjuku station, so it's not a place to base yourself when having a proper explore of Tokyo.

Summary

The Park Hyatt is a hotel for upmarket business travellers who have been to Tokyo before and want to relax in an oasis of calm that feels like they're floating above the city.

But you want to pop back and forth to the hotel from meetings and after-work events, or prefer an efficiently laid-out room to work in rather than form-over-function designer irritations, you'd be better off picking a different hotel.

John Walton

John Walton (John Walton)

@thatjohn

Aviation journalist and travel columnist John took his first long-haul flight when he was eight weeks old and hasn't looked back since. Well, except when facing rearwards in business class.
 

4 Comments

  • Steve Hui

    Steve Hui

    31 Mar, 2013 08:51 pm

    The Park Hyatt Tokyo is a hotel which is regularly loved by the Frequent Flyer forum community, and appears on the bucket list of many. Not only due to the Lost in Transaction connection, but because of its renowned service levels are without par, one of the best in the world.

    So I read with intrigue and an open mind that it failed to meet your expectations.

    I've been there myself, and must say it very much lived up to my expectations. With the location as the only negative which would stop me returning on short stays. Though I would definitely be taking my wife there on the next Tokyo trip. I find it is a great place to be when you want to get away from the Tokyo madness and seek some serenity (suits you when it is Day 4 or 5 of your Tokyo visit).

    Hopefully you might get a chance to revisit and see if you like it the second time.

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  • petrhsr

    petrhsr

    29 May, 2013 09:29 am

    We recently stayed in a suite at PH Tokyo for 7 nights, and it's really one of the finest hotels we've ever resided at.

    I'm not sure quite how fast you walk, but it didn't take us any more than 10 minutes to walk to Shinjuku station.

    For those averse to walking, there are abundant cabs (about Y1000 to the station) and a regular, reliable mini-bus shuttle run by the hotel.

    Secluded, hushed and luxurious - my hotel ideal.  Met by PH Tokyo.  Maybe you're a little too young, John, to appreciated it. 

    By all means, stay in Ginza on your next trip.  Ghastly area...

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  • htc

    htc

    1 Aug, 2013 11:48 am

    Stayed here two weeks ago at the end of a week in Japan. It was fantastic. It was a trip for a holiday so I wasn't looking at it from a business traveller perspective.

    Great hotel! The view over the city was exceptional. The New York Grill was OK - it was really expensive for two of us ($700 with a bottle of wine). Next time I'd go up for a drink and a pizza maybe and head out for something more substantial.

    The Airport Limo Bus works very well and had free WiFi for the trek back to NRT.

    Nothing was too much for this hotel, and it shouldn't because it is right at the top end of Tokyo Hotels.

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  •  New folder name New Farm

    New folder name New Farm

    8 Jan, 2014 10:53 pm

    I agree with the reviewer about its location, The Keio Plaza hotel in my opinion is just as good and a short walk from Shinjuku Station. Also if you are coming from Narita, the Limosine Bus stops at the door.

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27 Sep, 2016 12:08 pm

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