Rated as one of the top hotels in Tokyo, I arrived at the Park Hyatt Tokyo with high expectations—and they were all exceeded.
The Park Hyatt chain prides itself on personalized service that distinguishes it from its competitors. It was the personal interaction that best illustrates my experience at the Park Hyatt Tokyo and forms the basis of this trip report.
The Hotel Staff
After arriving in the late evening from Guam, still jetlagged and on German time, I simply wanted to check into my room and go to sleep. The hotel is located in the Shinjuku district of Tokyo, a business area, and I had no trouble finding the hotel from Shinjuku station. As it turned out, the Park Hyatt offers a complimentary shuttle from the station to the hotel, but the half-kilometer walk in the brisk evening air was refreshing after a long flight and train ride from Narita Airport into the city.
I found the hotel building without issue, though I had a bit of trouble finding the hotel entrance. The Park Hyatt is situated in a sleek office tower and has its own entrance on the far side of the building. I entered through the opposite side and walked through a large lobby and upstairs through a delicatessen to find the hotel. A staff member was on the ground floor to greet me and welcomed me to the hotel then escorted me up to the lobby on the 41st floor.
Ground floor artwork just outside the elevator
If you have seen Lost in Translation, which prominently features the Park Hyatt Tokyo, you will remember the opening scene in which Bob Harris, a celebrity, arrives at the hotel and is greeted by scores of staff as he makes his way from the ground floor to the lobby. While I did not have paparazzi following me, just like Mr. Harris, I was warmly greeted with a bow by no less than five hotel personnel as I made my way from the Peak Lounge, down the hall, past the Girandole restaurant, through the library, and to the check-in area.
Immediately, the Park Hyatt distinguished itself from its competitors. Rather than have a protruding and impersonal counter where guests could line up to check-in, the “lobby” (if you could call it that) had a number of desks where a staff member was on hand to check you in. I sat down at a desk and was welcomed to Tokyo by an engaging and friendly young woman who promptly checked me in while providing helpful details about the hotel and Tokyo itself.
After completing the formalities, she escorted me upstairs, already having learned my name, and upon arrival to my 44th floor room demonstrated the high-tech features of the room and double-checked to insure that there was nothing else she could assist me with before returning to the lobby.
The room istelf–a deluxe room–was spacious and smartly designed. You can read Brad’s review of a Park View King at the Park Hyatt Tokyo as well. The bathroom was large and featured a broad range of amenties and a separate shower and bath. The walk-in closet featured plenty of room to store bags and hang clothes and the beds and chairs in the room were plush and comfortable. A note welcoming me to the Hyatt along with a box of delicious chocolate almonds had been placed on the armoire and the minibar was well stocked with snacks and drinks. A second, large, gourmet chocolate bar was placed on the desk.
The check-in experience set the tone for the stay: the professionalism, grace, and finesse of all of the hotel front-line staff immediately indicated that the hotel was more than just a place to eat and lay my head, but a chance to escape from the bustle of Tokyo while experiencing the pinnacle of great service that Japanese culture prides itself in providing.
Now do not take my words to mean that the hotel was flawless: while my stay was so wonderful I will never even consider staying anywhere else when I return to Tokyo, there is always room for improvement.
Fatigue dissipated and hunger set in after check-in: my stomach was growling and I wanted to try out Girandole restaurant for this review. The hotel guide in the room stated the restaurant was open till 2300 and at about 2200 I went downstairs to have dinner there. But the maître d’, exceedingly kind and apologetic, informed me that the restaurant was closing. Puzzled, I walked back toward the lobby where a man, who greeted me by surname, asked if everything was okay. I told him that I had been looking forward to eating at Girandole and was disappointed that it closed an hour earlier than the hotel guide indicated.
He profusely apologized and offered the excuse that because supplies were still limited in the aftermath of the earthquake, the hotel closed an hour early each night. I question that explanation, but he was quick to offer a solution, informing me that both room service and the bar were still open. I opted instead to go downstairs and around the corner from the hotel to dine at a little Japanese diner-style restaurant. It was by no means fancy: a little beef, rice, and Miso soup, but it seemed authentic (the restaurant was full of locals) and the price—only Y280 was unbeatable.
I take this tangent merely to show that even the best of hotels, as the Park Hyatt is, is not perfect and I do not hold that against them: while I would have enjoyed dining at Girandole for dinner, I ended up with a very adequate and tasty Japanese meal. Clarifying the restaurant opening hours in the hotel guide would be helpful to guests, however.
After a very sound rest on an extremely comfortable bed, I returned to Girandole for breakfast. On the weekends, Girandole offers a breakfast buffet and I opted for that: an excellent choice. Like the Park Hyatt in Milan, I would have liked to see hot items included in the buffet, but the quality of the food and drink was amazing. Fresh-squeezed juices, exquisite pastries, ripened fresh fruit, continental faire, and amazingly good Bircher muesli made for an excellent breakfast. For a small supplement to the buffet price, you could order two eggs with breakfast meat. I took advantage and the eggs were cooked perfectly and had a wonderful taste.
The whole day was ahead of me and unplanned. The weather was perfect and upon finishing breakfast I stopped by the lobby and sat down with Adrian, the hotel’s chief concierge, for some tips about how to best explore Tokyo and what to see. We quickly connected with our common roots in Southern California and it was immediately apparent that Adrian loved his job, knew Tokyo like the back of his hand, and had the ability to effectively communicate and connect with guests like myself, balancing small talk with sage advice that led to a great day exploring Tokyo. Without consulting his computer or checking guides, he whipped out a map, circled areas to check out, then clearly mapped out how to use Tokyo’s oft-confusing mix of private and public rail operators to get me where I needed to go.
I returned to my room to freshen up and return some e-mails. I returned to the lobby around 11:40 and planned to take advantage of the hotel’s shuttle to Shinjuku station but just missed it, meaning the next shuttle was not for another 40 minutes. Adrian had a solution that far exceeded my expectations and again demonstrated what set the Park Hyatt apart. The hotel offers chauffeured service to/from Tokyo’s airports or around the city. It so happened that one of the drivers was not occupied, so Adrian walked us downstairs and instructed the driver to take us to Shinjuku station.
Racing down the streets of Tokyo in a shining BMW 7-series replete with all the comforts of a chauffeured automobile made the ride enjoyable and made me feel more important than I deserved. I got the sense that this wasn’t just something Adrian did for me as a favor, but something the hotel would do for other guests if the situation warranted. That little extra touch saved me a 15-minute walk to the station and demonstrated that despite its high price tag, you get what you pay for at Park Hyatt Tokyo.
The driver could not have been nicer: his English was poor, but he still tried his best to communicate with me and did a heck of a job: far better than I could have done trying to speak through a Japanese phrase book. He dropped me off at the location of the shuttle drop-off, making it easy for me to catch the shuttle on the return trip to the hotel after a day of sightseeing.
Manager, New York Grill & Bar
I had been in touch with General Manager Philippe Roux-Dessarps prior to my visit and he graciously invited my uncle and me to dinner at New York Grill on the top floor of the hotel.
Once again, flawless service made one of the most delicious dinners I have ever had perhaps the best overall dining experience I have ever had. Occupying a prime table for two overlooking the Tokyo skyline, we were waited on personally by Daniel, the manager of the restaurant. He could not have been more polished and professional, recommending items on the menu including wine pairings that accentuated the delicious and well-prepared meal choices.
I always feel a bit funny taking photographs in a fancy restaurant, but wanted to capture for this report a feel for what a proper dinner at New York Grill is like. Freshly baked bread with a olive oil and balsamic vinegar started the meal and I went with a personal favorite to start, Caesar salad. The ingredients in the salad were of the finest quality, with the flakes of cheese and romaine lettuce, croutons, and strips of crisp bacon made for a scrumptious base and the rich freshly made dressings drizzled over all of it made the first course a delectable treat.
Admittedly, I could have chosen a more exotic or Japan-centric appetizer (my uncle loved the Taraba Crab Salad & Soup with chili aioli) but I was very happy with my choice. Paired with a Sonama-Cutrer Chardonnay, Russian River Valley 2008 white wine, exclusively available at the Park Hyatt Tokyo, my first course left me eagerly anticipating what was to come.
For my main course, I ordered Kobe Beef, opting to try Japan’s finest cut of beef in one of its finest restaurants. All I can say is, WOW. The meat was cooked perfectly and was succulent and brimming with flavor (Daniel brought me over four homemade sauces for the meat, but the meat needed no additional accouterments). Two sides, delicious whipped and creamy mashed potatoes and asparagus in a dill hollandaise sauce made for perfect accompaniments. My uncle enjoyed his rack of lamb, commenting that it was the best lamb dinners (and he loves lamb) he had enjoyed in recent memory. The beef was perfectly paired with a Lasseter Family Winery St. Emilion Style Red Blend, Sonoma County 2006, another exclusive of New York Grill.
With Daniel or one of his colleagues checking on us every few minutes, we could not have been better taken care of. We ate slowly, taking in the beautiful view outside our window and the delicious wine, and as live music softly played from the bar on the other side of the restaurant, we were enjoying simply an incredible evening.
After our dishes had been cleared, Daniel brought over the dessert menus and recommended a delicious yet simple dessert of ice cream drizzled with espresso. The coffee taste juxtaposed to the delicious ice cream was magnificent—the dessert capped off what was by far the best meal I have had in years and perhaps ever.
We were chorused with bows as we walked out of the restaurant, pleasantly filled but not stuffed, and beaming at the wonderful dining experience we had just experienced.
And that’s what distinguishes New York Grill from the many other fine restaurants I have tired in cities all over the world. Don’t go to New York Grill merely for the food—it is grand and exquisite, but go for the experience. That includes the remarkable food, great view, and impeccable service that make dining on top of the Park Hyatt Tokyo worth the price.
The following morning Mr. Philippe Roux-Dessarps, the General Manager of the hotel, invited me to breakfast at Girandole. Over a light breakfast, Mr. Roux-Dessarps shared about Tokyo and Japan, his hotel, his philosophy on running a great hotel, and many other topics concerning the hospitality business.
This 1.5 hour conversation turned out to be the highlight of my stay at the hotel and time in Japan. You can always tell when someone loves their job and Mr. Roux-Dessarps clearly loves his. With pride he shared about how it his goal to anticipate the needs of every guest and provide unparalleled service that brings back guests to his hotel over and over. The sincerity of his words was obvious and his stories about life as a French expat in Tokyo and raising his family in Japan was endearing and aptly demonstrated the caring, gracious persona that characterizes the Park Hyatt chain.
I will not go into the specifics of our conversation, but it quickly became clear why the Park Hyatt Tokyo has been so successful. Behind every manager is a team and Roux-Dessarps’ team deserves great praise for their commitment to the hotel, but a leader sets the example for those he leads and discipline, professionalism, and strong morale trickles down throughout the organization thanks to strong leadership at the top.
Roux-Dessarps shared one story that I think bears repeating. On the afternoon of the earthquake in March, he was in a car approaching the hotel. As the streets of Tokyo shook, he rushed out and ran up the stairs (41 floors) to the hotel lobby. He expected bedlam but instead found that his staff calmly and professionally had everything under control. No one had deserted or overreacted, instead the staff had checked up on the guests and had assembled to await Roux-Dessarps’ instructions. That’s what I call professionalism.
After breakfast, my uncle and I went upstairs to the 45th floor and enjoyed a couple hours working out and lounging in the hotel’s oylimpic-sized indoor swimming pool. We had forgotten swimming trunks but the hotel quickly sent up two for a nominal fee. The equipment was modern and the water was great. When you do stay the Park Hyatt Tokyo be sure to factor in a few hours to enjoy this.
Just after 1pm, we checked out and were picked up by a shuttle bus that stops directly at the hotel to take us to Haneda Airport. At check-in, the staff carefully went over the bill with me insuring that all the charges were correct (complimentary wi-fi at this hotel for all guests, I might add) and Mr. Roux-Dessarps stepped out of his office to wish us goodbye.
You just cannot get service like that at most hotels—even the finest ones. The hotel is not cheap, but for the outstanding service, comfortable and spacious rooms with state-of-the-art amenities, and wonderful food options you get, it is worth it. When you get to Tokyo do not pass up the Park Hyatt—it is worth the investment and will forever spoil you in terms of pampering and genuinely caring service.
Yes, this is a very glowing report because I found nearly every aspect of the hotel to meet or exceed my expectations. Let’s be clear, though: had my stay been bad, I would have made it clear in my review. The hotel did not discount my room rate–in this case, it was paid for using Hyatt points. Dinner at New York Grill and breakfast the final morning in Girandole were comped. As I mentioned, I had been in touch with the hotel prior to my visit. I did not ask for anything to be comped–I only wanted permission to take pictures throughout the property. I concede that my method of reviewing this hotel, using names of hotel employees, is bit unconventional, but I thought it best captured why I had such a nice stay.