On paper, the Park Hyatt’s location looks a little odd. Anyone coming to Tokyo to eat, shop, or do business will find it not all that convenient. Shinjuku is far from Ginza, Roppongi, and Marunouchi, and is more famous for its nightlife than anything else. In fact, when the hotel opened 20 years ago, critics thought its location would ruin it. Another unusual fact is that you hardly see the hotel’s entrance from outside, and even when you walk into the building, you have to take a lift up to reach the reception, restaurants, and bars. And yet, what could easily be problems somehow work in favour of the hotel. Being a little outside of the city has its upsides too. Most importantly, the view you have from here is arguably the most breathtaking of all Tokyo. No matter in which direction you look, you see a never-ending sea of lights unfold in front of you. Being away from the heart of the city means that you can look over it, and see it, rather than look away from it.
The Park Hyatt is not all about its views, however. Another strong point that it has is the feeling you have when staying here. In an age when ever more hotels feel corporate, cold, and somewhat standardised, this is one that makes you feel like a real person, and not just a number. The intimate reception area, the library, the timeless decoration in the rooms, and the incredibly polite staff all are part of this. We have rarely felt something like this atmosphere in any other hotel around the world.
This almost club-like feeling is even more present in the spa. Admittedly, you have to pay a fee to access it, but for it, you get access to one of Tokyo’s most exclusive spas. Again, you don’t feel like being in a hotel, but more in a private club. Here too, the decoration does not look like it’s been designed 20 years ago.
The only place that somewhat “suffers” from the impact of the film is the New York Bar. With live jazz every evening, it attracts a large number of Lost in Translation aficionados, and feels a little less private, and intimate than the rest of the hotel. Move to the New York Grill, and the feeling changes completely. The glorious views are the same, but the atmosphere is a lot more plush, and intimate here. The same can be said for Kozue, which serves Kaiseki cuisine to almost 100 covers at most, which is no mean feat!
Summing up the Park Hyatt is difficult. It is a hotel that seems to have a soul, and have withstood the test of time better than most. It is world-class in every aspect, except its location, which does not make it less attractive in the least. For anyone who stays in Tokyo for a little while, there is hardly a better place to contemplate the city than sitting by the windows in your room, or one of the restaurants at the Park Hyatt.