Millennial Milieu: Hyatt Centric Ginza Tokyo
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From capsules to jaw-dropping suites, Tokyo offers lodging options for every type of traveler. For my recent trip there, I decided to try out one of the latest additions to the ever-growing roster of hotels in the city: the Hyatt Centric Ginza Tokyo. The hotel opened in January as the first Hyatt Centric hotel in the Asia-Pacific region. The lifestyle brand, introduced in 2015, is essentially Hyatt's version of the Aloft brand, emphasizing things millennials look for, such as modern aesthetics, advanced in-room technology and local experiences. Here's what it was like to stay there.
Accommodations in Tokyo are notorious for costing an arm and a leg, and this hotel was no exception. Since cash rates for a two-night stay in a standard room were going for 38,640 yen (about $350) per night before taxes and fees, I decided to look at my award options. As a Category 5 property in the World of Hyatt program, awards cost 20,000 points per night, equivalent to about $360, according to TPG’s latest valuations. Since I didn't want to pay too much out of pocket and didn't want to completely wipe out my World of Hyatt account for a mediocre redemption, a Points + Cash award was the perfect compromise. Not only that, but I actually scored a better deal with the Points + Cash rate.
I ended up redeeming 10,000 points and paying 13,597 yen (around $125) per night, equivalent to about $300 per night with TPG’s valuations in mind. Aside from saving points, what made this redemption great was that I still earned elite qualifying nights and points on the cash portion. I paid with my Chase Sapphire Reserve, which offers 3x points on travel purchases. After my final $358 bill, including food and beverages, I earned 1,074 Chase Ultimate Rewards points, worth about $23.
The Hyatt Centric Ginza Tokyo, as its name would suggest, was right in the heart of Ginza, Tokyo's Times Square-like shopping area, and was a 10-minute walk from the world-famous Tsukiji Fish Market. At the hotel’s doorstep were many high-end shops like Rolex and Louis Vuitton.
What wasn't so close, however, were Tokyo's two airports. I arrived at Tokyo's Haneda Airport (HND) late at night, so I took a taxi to the hotel, which ended up taking about 25 minutes and cost 8,040 yen ($75).
That said, Tokyo offers phenomenal public transportation, including to and from its airport. For my departure, I was flying out of Tokyo's much farther Narita Airport (NRT) and took the Narita Express train service from Tokyo Station, a roughly seven-minute drive from the hotel. The train ride cost 3,020 yen (roughly $30) and took about an hour, which was much cheaper and quicker than taking a cab or Uber.
When I stepped inside the hotel, I didn't find much besides a small waiting area and a pair of elevators.
Like many other hotels in Tokyo, the main lobby was a few floors up, in this case, the fourth floor. The lobby was filled with natural light and had a split-level design with a restaurant and bar downstairs and check-in and seating area upstairs.
The décor throughout the hotel was contemporary, with deep red and yellow hues. It incorporated lots of locally inspired elements, including an area in the lobby where guests could write wishes on colorful strips of paper and hang them on a bamboo tree for the Japanese festival Tanabata.
Although the agent was friendly, the check-in experience was a bit odd. For instance, I was asked if I wanted to check out later, so I requested a one-hour extension, but was told that wouldn't be possible. If a late checkout wasn't an option, then why offer it? Once I was fully checked in, the agent walked me to the guest room elevators, which were separate from the ones we used to come up to the lobby.
I was assigned a standard 376-square-foot room on the eighth floor with two double beds.
When I walked in, there was an open closet to my right, complete with the usual fare, as well as kimono-style robes.
The room maintained the same color scheme as the lobby, providing a warm aesthetic, and had décor that reflected the neighborhood. I appreciated the modern in-room technology, such as electronically controlled blackout shades, a portable Bose speaker and bedside power outlets (which were the same as two-prong outlets in the US), but there wasn't an actual work desk — just a round glass table with two chairs. The beds, though, were comfortable, and I had no trouble falling asleep at night.
The bathroom had an open concept that helped make the bedroom feel more spacious.
The toilet was in a separate room with its own door, great for privacy in a room that lacked it, and had all of the advanced features you'd expect from a toilet in Japan, such as a heated seat.
There was plenty of counter space by the sink. In keeping with the brand's other hotels, toiletries were provided by BeeKind, an environmentally conscientious line from Gilchrist & Soames that doesn't use any artificial ingredients and donates a portion of its profits to the University of California, Davis, honeybee research program. Other essentials, like dental and shaving kits, were also available in the drawers beside the sink.
The shower area was quite large and felt spa-like. There was a freestanding shower and separate bathtub.
Opposite the sink was the minibar.
It was equipped with a Nespresso machine, kettle and fridge, which was stocked with a selection of soft drinks, beers, cocktails and free water bottles.
Food and Beverage
The hotel's restaurant, Namiki667, was on the third floor and was open for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
It offered a variety of seating, including a large outdoor terrace, which is unusual for the area.
My first morning there, I ponied up 4,720 yen ($45) to partake in the breakfast buffet. Although steep for those who don't have Hyatt Globalist status or otherwise have it included in their room rate, it didn't disappoint. The spread included a balanced variety of Western and Japanese options, with a selection of hot items like made-to-order omelets and grilled fish, a salad bar, pastries and various cheeses. A mix of fresh fruit, yogurt, juice, coffee and tea were also available.
Fitting with the Centric brand, there were also millennial-friendly items like avocado toast. The quality of the food was fairly high, and many of the ingredients were locally sourced, including fish from the Tsukiji Fish Market (not the smoked salmon below).
Beside the restaurant was the Namiki667 Bar & Lounge. It was open from 11:00am and had its own limited food menu. The clientele was mostly traveling businessmen during the day and locals at night, but it never got crowded when I was there, despite there being a live DJ on Thursday and Friday nights.
Although I didn't have the chance to sample it, room service from the hotel's restaurant was available from 6:30am to 11:00pm. The prices matched the restaurant's à la carte menu.
When I was ready to work off some of the delicious Japanese food I'd been enjoying, I made my way to the hotel's gym, located on the fourth floor just past the reception. It was pretty no-frills, equipped with the usual cardio equipment and weights, as well as towels, headphones and water.
Wi-Fi was free for all guests and, as with most places in Tokyo, was lightning-fast. Uploading photos and streaming content was a breeze.
The Hyatt Centric Ginza Tokyo was a stylish place to stay for a few nights, and its location was perfect for what I was looking for. It didn't offer the rooftop bar or amazing views you'll find at some other hotels in the city, such as the Andaz Tokyo Toranomon Hills, but it was also a lot more economical (by Tokyo standards). The hotel remained true to the mission of its lifestyle brand and successfully incorporated many thoughtful locally inspired touches. I wouldn’t hesitate to return in the future — that is, for the right price.
All images by the author.