Park Hyatt Tokyo Review: Still World Class or a Fading Star?
Trust me, it’s a lot easier to work off that hangover or recover from 36 hole days in a nice hotel than it is in a Motel 6.
If you were making a list of the most iconic hotels around the world, you couldn’t have a proper list without the Park Hyatt Tokyo.
Located on the top floors of the Shinjuku Park Tower building in the Shinjuku neighborhood of Tokyo, it’s arguably been the best-known hotel in the city ever since it opened.
This was in part from its prominent position in the Bill Murray movie Lost in Translation – but honestly? All it takes is one saunter through the lobby to see the views that make this place so iconic and well known.
I’d never been to Tokyo before 2018, but that year I found myself randomly in the city twice.
Once for 48 hours with friends on a layover from a ski trip to Niseko.
And another 48 hours with my wife after a Top 100 cocktail bender in Singapore, where I also crossed the Serapong Course at Sentosa off my top golf list.
On both trips, we made the rounds of the best bars Tokyo has to offer, including my favorite bar in the world: Bar Ben Fiddich – which just so happens is only about a 15-minute walk from the Park Hyatt.
The first trip we stayed at Hyatt’s newest Japanese property the Andaz, but on the second trip my wife and I splurged to stay at the real deal: the Park Hyatt Tokyo.
But the question is, did it live up to expectations? Was it everything we expected it to be?
Honestly? Not exactly.
Curious as to why? Read on.
First Impressions of the Tokyo Park Hyatt
When you walk in the lobby of the Park Hyatt Tokyo, it’s hard not to be wowed by the views. You can see for miles in every direction, and considering Tokyo is a pretty massive city – there’s a lot to see.
The lobby, located on the 41st floor has massive ceilings that truly give you a sense of space and grandeur.
That said, you start to get a slight inkling that the property may not be brand new.
The property was built in 1994 – which isn’t exactly the golden age of beautiful architecture. It’s not an ornate art deco building like the Plaza or a modern wonder like the Shangri-La London. Despite the incredible views, and objectively nice finishes, it does feel a touch dated.
This is very easy to overlook in the lobby. After all, there is a lot to look at, and it’s quite impressive.
But the real question, is what are the rooms like?
The Rooms at the Park Hyatt Tokyo
Let’s not get too pretentious here, the rooms at the Park Hyatt Tokyo are fantastic. It’s not like you’re staying in an Econolodge here.
They have an understated elegance to them, that feels different than many of the hotels built in the past decade.
But as you started to get a sense of the rest of the hotel, the rooms do feel a little dated.
Maybe it’s the beige walls, or perhaps the black furniture (that probably felt quite modern years ago), it just doesn’t have quite the same wow factor of many similar hotels, like the wonderful Park Hyatt New York.
I was also surprised to see that the glass windows were the kind that had little wires criss-crossing the whole thing. I don’t know what that’s called, but it did detract from the view a tiny bit.
Next to the newer Andaz, which is supposed to be a step lower in the Hyatt line of hotels, it just didn’t feel quite as impressive.
That said, it does feel special.
You know when you walk into a place and it just gives you that feeling of “oh, I’m in a place of stature and importance.”
The Park Hyatt does have that. And as you walk through the hotel, you feel it. Whether it’s in the New York Bar, the incredible pool, or the Kozue restaurant – you feel a certain gravitas while you’re there.
Despite my complaints, the rooms are incredibly comfortable, especially by Tokyo standards. They’re a good size, and no matter where you are, you’ll have a great view.
The bed is like sleeping on a giant pillow, as you’d expect from a luxury 5 star hotel, and we got fantastic night sleeps after two nights of trying to fit as many top 100 bars in as we could.
The lineup on this trip looked like:
We tried to make it to Bar Trench, but SG was just too good and we didn’t want to leave.
Oh, and I almost forgot: New York Bar.
New York Bar at the Park Hyatt
You might be wondering how I could forget what is arguably the most famous bar, in the most famous hotel in the entire city?
Well, in two trips there? The experience was….pretty forgettable.
Let’s be clear, the views from New York Bar are incredible. The vibe? Very international and high class. The live music? Truly adds to the experience.
But the drinks and the service?
What a disappointment.
Despite the name of my cocktail site, I’m really not a very pretentious or snobby person – about most things.
When it comes to old fashioneds, I can be a little snobby.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not demanding perfectly cut, clear
- No melty bar
icethat overly dilutes the drink
- No club soda
- No muddled fruit
Any of those things are a deal-breaker. And if you do all of them? I won’t be happy.
And my old-fashioned at New York Bar? I got the trifecta.
And it only cost me $23.
Sure, you’re paying for the view, but this is a pretty simple thing to get right.
I don’t want this to turn into a gripe-fest, so I won’t tell the full story of the second trip. But we were there later in the evening, and let’s just say the service was about as bad as I’ve ever seen.
Like full-on, cold-shoulder ignored by the waitress. Not overlooked. Ignored.
And it happened to the table behind us, as well.
30 minutes later when they were able to order their drinks, they sat on the bar for 15 minutes.
We saw. We counted.
Unable to flag a waitress, the couple went and grabbed them themselves – only to be scolded by the manager.
It went downhill, and got quite awkward from there.
But the point is, this is a 5-star establishment, with a very expensive menu. I expect a memorable positive experience, yet in both of my visits it was memorable for all the wrong reasons.
Despite all of this, I think it still is one of the best hotel bars in the world.
The Pool at the Tokyo Park Hyatt
The pool at the Park Hyatt Tokyo may be the single best reason to stay at this hotel.
When we stayed, we were wiped out. We’d done 5 nights in Singapore visiting bars, and then were prepared for another two in Tokyo, after being dead tired, hungover, and honestly, ready to be home.
Check out our thoughts on the St. Regis Singapore.
But one of my ultimate bucket list experiences I had was to swim in the pool at this hotel. It’s located on the 47th floor, and has spectacular views of the city.
Not only did it live up to expectations, somehow it exceeded them.
I started both of my mornings with lap swims, and it’s like the hangover and exhaustion melted away.
Our last full day in Tokyo was one of the best travel days I’ve ever had. Clear blue skies, 65 degrees and sunny, world-class bars, sight-seeing – and it was all kicked off by this fantastic swim.
It may seem like an odd thing to be excited about – but this pool did it for me.
I was a little disappointed to see that hotel guests were not able to get complimentary access to the day spa for things like the jacuzzi, sauna, steam room, and so on. For upwards of $1k a night, you’d think that there might be some access there.
I believe it was a $ 45/day fee to use.
Final Thoughts on the Park Hyatt
This review comes across more negative than I intended for it to be.
The Park Hyatt Tokyo is a world-class hotel, and staying there makes any Tokyo visit that much more special.
But because the hotel is so iconic (and frankly, expensive) I hold it to a higher standard than most places I visit. And it’s because of this, there were a few letdowns in the experience.
That said, if you have the opportunity, and especially if you’re looking to stay in Shinjuku, a night at the Park Hyatt Tokyo is one you’ll remember for a long time to come.
But for your sake, I hope it doesn’t involve the restaurant manager insisting on bringing a daiquiri to your room at 1:00am to make up for such a poor experience in the restaurant.