Introducing…the Grand Hyatt Tokyo…another time

May 10th, 2014

The Park Hyatt Tokyo and Hyatt Regency Tokyo are two hotels seem to occupy the two extremes of my affection for Hyatt:  aspirational luxury and dependable, comfortable service.  But I find the Grand Hyatt Tokyo to be a little bit harder to classify and compare to the two.

In fact, while it was easy for me to find the words to describe those hotels, I am finding it so hard to find words that satisfy me that I’m having difficulty coming up with this post, so I think I will need to have a longer think about it and come back to this when inspiration strikes.

For now, I refer you to Quirrow & Mail, who has written a nice review of his experiences at this hotel, though his overall opinion remains slightly different from mine.

Writing is hard! I think I need to exercising my writing brain a bit more before tackling this again…

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Introducing…the Hyatt Regency Tokyo

May 9th, 2014

Well, I went and got everybody all amped up about the Park Hyatt Tokyo in my last post, but now it’s time to bring you down. I mean that, of course, in the literal sense.

Because if you look down from one of several areas in the Park Hyatt (the pool area provides the best view), you will see off in the distance and down below, the hulking orange brick building that houses the Hyatt Regency Tokyo.  As huge as this building appears up close, the very top of the Hyatt Regency fails to reach even the very bottom of the Park Hyatt.

That is true in the literal sense.  But it is not quite true in the figurative sense.

For starters, access to this building is slightly better than that of the Park.  The shuttle bus is slightly easier to find, but you might not even need it, as it’s a straight walk from the West Exit of Shinjuku station, half of it being a covered walkway past many different shops and restaurants.  The latter half is a fascinating walk through a dystopian vision of the future that thankfully never came to pass;  layers of concrete lattices that would make The Borg proud.

RESISTANCE IS FUTILE. YOU WILL BE ASSIMILATED.

RESISTANCE IS FUTILE. YOU WILL BE ASSIMILATED.

The Century Hyatt Tokyo (as it was known at the time) was completed in 1980, when Japan’s economic miracle was nearing its peak, and a different kind of wealth was on display.  Gone are the days when buildings with giant chandeliers atop eight story atriums were built just for the heck of it…but those days live on in today’s Hyatt Regency Tokyo. In truth, about 90% of the building still looks like it’s stuck in the 80′s.  With the exception of a couple of specific sections, the rooms are in dire need of a makeover (though a makeover wouldn’t change the fact that the base room is about half the size of that in the Park Hyatt).  In particular, the bathtubs look like something your grandmother would look at and say “Yup, time for a little home renewal here.”

This bath looks like it came from my grandmother's house.

This bath looks like it came from my grandmother’s house.

So why on earth would you choose to stay at the Hyatt Regency?  Well, the obvious reason is that you can stay here for only half, or even a third, of the cost of the Park Hyatt.  But there’s also a better reason: because the things that they do well at the Hyatt Regency Tokyo…they do really, really well.

The staff is the old school Japanese type in traditional suits.  They may not be able to make miracles happen like at the Park Hyatt, but they make you feel like a king while they do what they can do.  That goes double if you are a repeat customer and/or a Diamond, but that’s another topic for another time.

For all of the glory and pageantry of the Park Hyatt, there’s one thing missing that the Hyatt Regency Tokyo has: a two star Michelin restaurant in Michel Troisgros, the best French food that I’ve ever had (though I admit that I’ve never been to France…)  But that’s not even my favorite restaurant in the hotel;  that honor goes to the Jade Garden, the Chinese restaurant that conquered my hatred of Chinese food.  Get yourself good and drunk before you go (a task that the Regency Club Lounge evening service is well suited for) so that you can ignore the prices and indulge in the best Chinese food that I’ve ever had (though I admit that I’ve never been to China…no, this will not become a recurring theme!)  And the Japanese restaurants are nothing to sneeze at either…though number three (soon to become number four) on the Tokyo Hyatt hotel rankings, a foodie might very well argue that the Hyatt Regency is actually superior to them all in regards to food.

However… if you’ve got money to blow on a drunken Chinese food orgy, then you also have money to blow on the number one reason to stay at the Hyatt Regency:  the Atrium Suite.  I intend to spend an entire future post talking about the wonderland that is the Atrium Suite (which can be had for half the price of a suite at the Park Hyatt), but if you’re the kind of person that demands immediate gratification and insists on immediately jumping to the end of the book to see how the story ends: the Atrium Suite is really, really cool.

So if you’re stuck in the Tokyo area to do your mattress runs to renew Diamond status and have a DSU to spare (Do what to what with what?  Don’t worry, I’ll get to all of that in more detail in due time as well), then this Hyatt can be a slighter more accessible, slightly closer to the ground level of heaven.  Literally and figuratively.

One more thing I should mention:  while the English ability of the staff at the Park Hyatt was so flawless that I didn’t even bother to think of it, you may encounter some difficulties with an all-English conversation at the Hyatt Regency.  Nothing that you won’t be able to overcome, but enough that you may have some rather…interesting conversations.

Funny how you have to leave the Park Hyatt to actually get lost in translation…

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Introducing…the Park Hyatt Tokyo

May 8th, 2014

Okay, now that the pleasantries are out of the way, let’s get to the content!

But first, let me give you an idea of how I’m going to do these posts going forward…

For the long term health of this blog.  I’m going to resist the temptation to just write everything I can think about all at once.  I will start with a basic overview of each Tokyo Hyatt.  Then I will start branching out into specific aspects of each property…a specific room review, tips on getting the best rates, must-see/must-do/must-eat attractions that don’t get the attention that they deserve, things like that.  It will be whatever I feel like talking about at any given time…though I reserve the right to be swayed by requests in the comments section!

One more thing I should mention: if you are looking for a thousand pictures to go along with each post, allowing you to examine each individual thread on the Egyptian cotton sheets, then I’m afraid that you will have to look elsewhere.  This is for three reasons: first, I generally like to get immersed in the hotel experience, so I don’t actually take many pictures when I’m there.  Second, there is no shortage of pictures already on the interwebs (I suggest Google).  Third, and most important, I feel that pictures give away too much of the experience.  My goal is to get you interested in experiencing these places for yourself, not to make you feel like you’ve experienced them already.  So I prefer to let my words do the talking, and let your imagination build anticipation to start an investigation to make reservations for these destinations.

Right…sorry about that.  Got a little carried away.

Okay, the Park Hyatt Tokyo!  Iconic in so many ways…from the distinctive three escalating pyramids soaring into the sky, to the majestic view from the New York Bar that, twenty years after the building’s completion, remains one of the best ways in the city to impress a date, to the gleaming pool and fitness center on the forty-seventh that represents the epitome of opulence…

What the heck, here’s a picture for you.

Park Hyatt Tokyo pool

Park Hyatt Tokyo pool

That’s what I’m talking about!

In short, the Park Hyatt Tokyo is a destination in and of itself.

And a good thing that it is, because for all intents and purposes it’s in the middle of nowhere.  It is too far away from the Shinjuku train station for a first-timer to walk to.  And Shinjuku station is so complicated that it’s too hard to find the free shuttle bus that will take you there.  So your first trip to the Park Hyatt Tokyo should probably be either by taxi from the station or by bus from the airport.  A full list of your transportation options can be found here.

Like just about every hotel of note in Tokyo (with the notable exception of The Peninsula), The Park Hyatt resides on the top of a multipurpose office building.  There are several restaurants in the bottom of this building that will provide a reasonably cheap lunch.  The best time to make use of them is before heading into the hotel proper…it will feel like too much of a step down otherwise.

Once you enter the second floor entrance you have two options: hang a left and check out the well stocked Delicatessen (skip the Pastry Boutique until the end…its best use is for purchasing parting souvenirs), or go straight ahead, around the ornate centerpiece, and wait for one of three elevators that will whisk you up to heaven thirty nine floors above.

At this point…I have a hard time finding the words that do justice to the experience of seeing this hotel for the first time.  The Peak Bar and Lounge at the entrance is merely a tease, a swerve as to what awaits (though you’ll have to find time to come back to this area when it changes from night to day or vice versa, as both offer a completely different look and feel) as you keep walking.  You’ll see the European restaurant on the left and the Japanese restaurant on the right (and below), two extremes that somehow exist in harmony.  As you approach the colorful painting (that changes every season), be sure to take a quick glance out the window to the right;  if the weather cooperates, you will get your first glimpse at one of the few things even more iconic than the Park:  Mount Fuji.  A left past the rows of books, a right down a narrower hallway…all of these twists and turns serve to disorient you from the real world.

By the time you reach the end of your walk, you are no longer on your own.  You are in the bosom of the Park Hyatt Tokyo, where every person and every item exists to serve your every need, your every want, your everything.

Of course, it will cost you.  As for what and for how much, that depends on how well prepared you are before you go.

And we’ll talk about preparing for your stay…some other time! ;)

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