Stuck in Translation: A Review of the Park Hyatt Tokyo
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I really wanted to like this hotel. I really did. In the weeks before my trip, I did enough research on Tokyo to write a novel, and virtually everything I read about this hotel was nothing less than glowing. Some reviews called it the best hotel in Asia — not to mention it's also the iconic setting of the classic movie "Lost in Translation." You could say my expectations were understandably high.
Boy, was I wrong.
The hotel felt dated and stuffy; the staff, although friendly and polite, felt impersonal and corporate. I admit the bar was high after my exceptional stay at the Conrad, but no matter how you look at it, this hotel failed to meet the standards of a luxury hotel. Just wait until you see the floors ...
We used points to pay for two nights at the Park Hyatt at 30,000 points per night. The great thing about Hyatt hotels is that you can transfer your Chase points directly to Hyatt.
For every Ultimate Reward point you transfer, you'll get one Hyatt point (a 1:1 transfer ratio in the points-and-miles world). Award nights at the highest-level Category 7 properties max out at 30,000 points per night. The Points Guy values Hyatt points at 1.7 cents each, so that is a value of roughly $510 a night, even for high-end hotels including the Park Hyatt and Andaz. When you consider how much they charge in cash (up to $700 a night on occasion), you're looking at a great award redemption. The experience that you get out of your stay is a completely different story, though.
If you would like to redeem Hyatt points for a stay at the Park Hyatt Tokyo, or one of the chain's several other properties in the city, consider signing up for a card like the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, which is currently offering a sign-up bonus of 100,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening. Just for signing up, you'd have enough points to transfer to your Hyatt account and then redeem for two nights at this top-tier Category 7 property.
The Park Hyatt Tokyo location is ideal. It's located right where the Shinjuku and Shibuya districts overlap. I loved the vibe in this area — it was young and energetic and, of course, filled with incredible restaurants and shopping. If only the vibe of the hotel felt the same.
To get to the main lobby of the hotel, you have to take the elevator up 41 stories. When you get out, this is what you'll see.
It was a gorgeous, sprawling indoor garden with plenty of seating. Definitely not a bad place to grab a drink.
From there, one of the staff members escorted me to the check-in area. It was a very easy and standard process, although I didn't get an upgrade — not that my lowly Explorist status gave me much of a chance, anyway.
Another staff member then took my suitcase and small carry-on to my room.
The 1990s called, and they want their Hyatt Place back.
That was one of my first thoughts walking into the room. Do you blame me?
The bed was comfortable, although again, the main area didn't look like what you'd expect from one of the top hotels in the world.
The room was dark ... but you can't complain about that view.
I'll let the carpet speak for itself.
The bathroom was fairly spacious, with both a separate tub and shower, as well as an automatic toilet.
The shower was large, and the ceiling was high. It passed the TPG shower test for sure.
Aesop products were a saving grace here.
As was the large vanity mirror.
The bath was definitely on the small side. I'm about 5 feet, 7 inches and couldn't fully stretch my legs out.
There was a large cabinet which housed the minibar and some books.
I didn't drink anything from the well-stocked minibar.
There was a Nespresso machine, too — a feature I've noticed more and more in hotels.
Let me be clear. The room was (mostly) clean and had modern amenities. But when you're paying more than $500/night to stay in a five-star hotel that is regarded as one of the best in Asia, you want to get what you pay for. This was not it.
Food and Beverage
The hotel has a handful of restaurants, including Girandole on the 41st floor and the famed New York Grill on the 52nd floor.
I opted to try the breakfast at Girandole before a long day of sightseeing.
They offered a western breakfast buffet and a traditional Japanese breakfast, each for ¥4,200 (about $40 USD). There were also plenty of a la carte options, including eggs and pancakes.
I went with the breakfast buffet, which was good, but definitely a waste of money. Scrambled eggs and some pastries are not worth $40. The staff was slow to ask if I wanted coffee, and I had to track someone down to get some.
The spread included plenty of good options including bacon, sausages and potatoes.
More meat, of course, and some lox.
There was a good selection of fruit.
Plenty of dairy options, too.
You could also opt for some cereal.
(Photo by Samantha Rosen / The Points Guy)
One thing I liked at the Park Hyatt was the free coffee or tea perk offered to elite members via room service, which I ordered on two occasions. Each time, a strong iced coffee was delivered to my room within 10 minutes -- a coffee-lover's dream.
The coffee and tea room-service benefit didn't apply at the hotel breakfast buffet. It seemed counterintuitive to me because it's less work for the hotel to bring me a coffee when I'm already in the restaurant, rather than ordering room service to my room.
One of the highlights of the hotel was definitely the New York Bar on the 52nd floor of the hotel. It features iconic, expansive views of the city as well as nightly jazz performances. As a New Yorker, I definitely felt at home in that space.
Visiting the New York Bar is definitely a must if you're staying at the hotel, and would even be a great place for a cocktail if you're staying elsewhere. However, on balance, I'd recommend saving your money and appetite for one of the thousands of incredible restaurants in Tokyo. Your stomach and wallet will thank you.
One of the big perks of the Park Hyatt Tokyo is the pool on a floor high above the city. It's a great way to spend a few hours of downtime. They give you ample towels and a robe, too. It felt very spa-like.
There is no executive lounge that elites can use here, which is sure to be a negative for some people.
The biggest plus of this hotel, hands down, is the concierge service. I emailed the hotel countless times before my trip, and they were always extremely prompt and helpful. I'm beyond appreciative and cannot overlook them or thank them enough.
The rest of the staff here was accommodating, yet felt impersonal — they hardly knew my name. Granted, it's a huge hotel, but it makes a difference to make you feel at home. For instance, a staff member really went above and beyond on a night when I was running very late for a dinner reservation. Saya called the restaurant for me and assured me that it would work out fine. These are things you really value when traveling in a foreign country (especially alone), so they definitely earned some points here.
When I'm searching for a hotel during a sightseeing trip, my main concerns are that it's clean and safe — especially if I'm traveling alone. Did the Park Hyatt Tokyo check those boxes? Yes, absolutely.
However, for a hotel that is consistently regarded as one of the "best in Asia," if not the world, I was expecting so much more. It is in desperate need of a refresh and fails to live up to its reputation and high standards, especially for the price. The rooms feel dated and stuffy, and don't reflect the young, energetic vibe of the surrounding area. The staff was helpful, for the most part, but I felt like any other guest — and for a five-star hotel, that just doesn't cut it. There are so many incredible hotels in Tokyo that you would be just as happy -- or happier -- staying at.