The Park Hyatt opened in 1994, making it just over 20 years old, but it is still one of the city’s most luxurious properties from an international brand, with on-going revamps keeping it looking fresh. It found fame after the release of Sofia Coppola’s 2003 movie Lost in Translation, which was filmed here.
WHAT’S IT LIKE?
Arrival at the property is via a driveway off a main road – its three towers are topped with pyramid-shaped glass roofs, making it an easily identifiable landmark. Door staff in coats and gloves rush to help with luggage and guide you to the lifts, which silently whisk you up to reception on the 41st floor.
When you step out, you will be in the light-filled Peak Lounge at the top of the shortest tower, under a striking glass atrium. Ahead, you will see an attractive bamboo garden with tables and chairs arranged around it for light bites and afternoon tea.
You will immediately feel as if you have entered another world. At night, it is dimly light and wonderfully atmospheric, with soft music and bowing staff. There are floor-to-ceiling windows on every level so you cannot fail to be in awe of the views – on a clear day, you can see Mount Fuji, and at night the cityscape is picked out with thousands of diamonds and rubies.
From the Peak Lounge, you enter the second tower (they are all seamlessly connected by expansive corridors) and walk through a tranquil library to where the check-in desks are. There are more sets of lifts here to take you up to the bedrooms (floors 41-50 and 41-52). At the top of the second-tallest tower is the swimming pool and gym, while the summit of the third tower is crowned with the New York Bar and Grill.
Service is of the very highest order – often, you will be offered something before you even have time to realise what it is you need. Although a Western-style hotel, you can expect Japanese-style formality and conservatism, but English tends to be spoken well. You can’t fail to feel very well looked after, with no request considered too demanding.
WHERE IS IT?
In Shinjuku Park Tower, a short drive from one of the world’s busiest stations (Shinjuku), and Yoyogi Park where you will find Meiji Jingu shrine. The hotel is located in downtown Tokyo, near plenty of restaurants, bars, shops and businesses but you will need to take a taxi a couple of kilometres to be in the thick of all the neon.
The Metropolitan Government Building is within walking distance. It is 78km from Narita International airport, and just 27km from Haneda International airport.
When you are out and about, make sure you have a copy of the hotel’s address in Japanese to give taxi drivers when you need to get back.
Entry-level Park rooms are generously proportioned at 45 sqm, and feature pristine beds made up with Egyptian cotton sheets (no runners or cushions, which is better in my opinion as these always seem unhygienic).
There are workdesks with handy UK plug sockets, electric black-out blinds, 37-inch plasma screen TVs, free wifi, air conditioning, well-stocked minibars (try the Suntory whisky), safes, and Nespresso coffee and tea-making facilities (I loved the heavy tea pot and ceramic cups provided). A 24-hour concierge is also to hand, and a morning paper and welcome treat is provided to all.
Bathrooms come with toweling robes and Japanese cotton yukatas, slippers, hairdryers, and lots of Aesop toiletries and other essentials you might have forgotten. Irons and ironing boards are available on request. All have separate walk-in showers and deep baths, and futuristic Toto toilets with heated seats, jet sprays, sound effects and drying functions.
The décor is the same throughout most of the rooms and suites, with a earthy, Zen-like combination of Hokkaido water elm screens, pale green carpets, Washi paper lamp shades, granite surfaces, hemp wall coverings, and touches of brown, black and silver (no gold). The effect is one of calm with a lack of ostentation, but compared to the interiors of newer competitors, the look is not as cutting edge.
Higher category rooms tend to be differentiated by more space and better views. However, the newest (2006) and second-largest (220 sqm), the Tokyo suite, also features a selection of 1,000 curated hard-back books, a baby grand piano, green marble spa bath and private sauna.
RESTAURANTS AND BARS
For delectable pastries, cakes and confectionary, there is the Pastry Boutique on the ground floor, while the lower level has a gourmet deli and food store selling expensive salads, sandwiches, cheese and seafood. Both are open 11am to 7pm.
As previously mentioned, the Peak Lounge serves light food and drink throughout the day, turning into a bar after dark for cocktails and canapés. The property’s only Japanese restaurant is fine-dining Kozue, which sees waitresses in kimonos and food presented on handmade pottery.
Meanwhile, Girandole, which is located on the 41st floor between the Peak Lounge and reception, is an elegant brasserie open from morning until night. It’s decorated in dozens of vintage black and white portraits. I had breakfast here in the morning – there is an extensive selection of Japanese and European options, as well as à la carte dishes. Everything is very fresh and beautifully presented, with smart waiters on-hand to seat people on arrival, serve hot drinks and take orders.
Regardless of whether you are staying in the hotel or not, the New York Bar and Grill is not to be missed. Open from 5pm (there is a ¥2,200/£11 cover charge Mon-Sat from 8pm), you can relax with an Old Fashioned and listen to live jazz in the 127-seat bar. Alternatively, you eat in the restaurant. Either way, the dramatic high ceilings, glamorous clientele and incredible city views make it a destination in itself. Make sure you dress up – men should wear a jacket and trainers aren't allowed.
I had dinner at the 138-seat Grill and was immediately sucked into the magic of the place, with its slick open kitchen, golden lighting and sky-high setting. Dishes included Caesar salad, poached lobster tail, king crab cakes, jumbo barbecue shrimps, Australian rack of lamb, Hokkaido Akaushi sirloin and Kobe Prime Cut beef. If you are in need of a familiar, substantial meal, this American-inspired menu will more than satisfy.
BUSINESS AND MEETING FACILITIES
The Park Hyatt is an excellent choice for upscale events. The 39th floor features a 320-person (theatre-style) Ballroom with a 160-inch video wall and lots of natural light, the European-inspired Venetian Room (no windows) for 150 delegates seated, and the Drawing Room for a reception of up to 50 people (the two can also be combined).
There are two boardrooms on floors 48 and 49 for 12 people in each and the option to order room service, as well as a private dining room for eight guests with an open chef’s kitchen, plus a wedding chapel. (Hotel guests get a 50 per cent discount on board room hire.)
A stylish staffed business centre with a library feel is on level 41 and provides three computers, scanners, printers, mobile phone rentals, high-speed internet, translation services and business card printing. There is also a small meeting booth.
Level 45 is home to the impressive Club on the Park spa (open 6am-10pm). On arrival you need to sign in at reception and then swap your shoes for slip-on sandals. The expansive carpeted locker rooms for both men and women have stunning views of the city and places to sit in front of a mirror to conduct your grooming. There is also a peaceful relaxation room with magazines, tea and water.
The highlight are the Japanese onsen (communal baths) filled with flowing hot water (you have to wash first and be naked to use it) around which are various sauna and steam rooms, as well as a chilled plunge pool.
Those looking for pampering can choose from a range of massages, facials, manicures and pedicures conducted in seven treatment rooms. Hotel guests have to pay ¥4,200 (£21.50) to use the facilities (worth it in my opinion), but can access the gym and pool for free.
One of the things I liked was the fact that guests can borrow gym gear, trainers and swim wear if they have forgotten their own. Robes and towels are also provided, along with bottles of water, goggles and swimming hats (which are compulsory). Tattoos are not allowed to be on view.
Accessed by a private lift from the spa, the 20-metre-long rooftop swimming pool, lounge bar and gym is on the 47th floor. If you’re jetlagged, it’s a great place to watch the sunrise.
I enjoyed swims every morning at around 6.30pm and found there were only a couple of other people around. The gym, which occupies two separate studios either side of the pool with vast floor-to-ceiling windows, is one of the best I have ever seen. It has effective air conditioning, lots of space and a good range of high-tech Life Fitness treadmills and bikes, as well free-weights and mats. Trainers are on-hand to help.
There is also a programme of fitness classes that include stretching, swimming, yoga, pilates, balance, aqua walking, boxercise, dancercise and aerobics.
After two decades competing at the highest level of Tokyo’s hotel market, the Park Hyatt is still going strong. There are newcomers such as the Andaz and Aman that offer slightly different luxury experiences, but if you’re looking for outstanding dining, gorgeous spa and fitness facilities, spacious bedrooms and formal service, this property is an excellent choice. Ideal for businesspeople happy to pay top dollar.
- HOW MANY ROOMS? 177 across a dozen categories including Park King/Twin, Park Deluxe King/Twin, Park View King, Park Suite King, Park Suite Twin, Grosvenor Suite, Diplomat Suite King, Diplomat Suite Twin, Tokyo Suite and Presidential Suite. All are located above level 41 so have great views.
- HIGHLIGHTS The rooftop pool and huge gym, the panoramic views of the city and Mount Fuji (on a clear day), the outstanding service, and the New York Bar and Grill.
- PRICE Internet rates for a Park King room started from ¥60,375 (£309) in July.
- CONTACT Park Hyatt Tokyo, 3-7-1-2 Nishi Shinjuku, Shinjuku-Ku; tel +81 3 5322 1234; tokyo.park.hyatt.com