Lost in Pretension

Member Rating 3 out of 5 by Cat19 on June 25, 2009

My recent holiday to Japan included six nights in Tokyo, four at the beginning and two at the end. We had saved money by booking flights with air miles and it just seemed that time of year to splurge on five star accommodation. We decided to book different hotels for the nights at the beginning and end of the holiday, partly so we could plan our sight seeing more efficiently but mainly just for the variety.

The Park Hyatt hotel is probably most famous for being the hotel of choice in the "Lost in Translation" film. It looked very stylish and fashionable in the film and I must admit that is the main reason I chose it.

The hotel is based in the Shinjuku area of Tokyo, which is one of the busy shopping and restaurant areas. We thought it was a convenient base from which to explore Tokyo, although it is (thankfully) not slap bang in the middle of Shinjuku, it is about a ten or fifteen minute walk to the main areas of activity or a few minutes in a taxi.

We had travelled to Tokyo by train, arriving at the main JR station for the city (simply named Tokyo station). As we could not face the subway with our large luggage we took a taxi to the hotel which cost the equivalent of about £20 (i.e. ¥4,000) and took about 45 minutes due to heavy traffic. The hotel is one of the tallest buildings around and we were impressed with its attractive exterior upon arrival.

Our taxi was immediately met by a couple of staff, one of whom asked our name and took our luggage and the other took us to reception on the 41st floor. Check in service was very personal, not a counter service, rather there were several individual desks and we were invited to take a seat whilst we ran through the usual formalities. The process was quick and efficient to a point, however I was surprised that the receptionist appeared to be looking to see what rooms were available and asked us if we wanted smoking or non-smoking room. It was 3.20pm and I had assumed we would have been allocated a room by this time. We were then told that the room was not ready and would be a few more minutes, which again I found surprising at this time of day. We were ushered away from the desk and told to take a seat up against the wall out of the way whilst the room was readied.

Being a rather impatient creature and suspecting this might take more than a couple of minutes, I decided to keep myself busy by popping upstairs to see the famous (from the film) bar and restaurant and to make a dinner reservation. I was disappointed to be immediately advised that there was no availability whatsoever for that evening, undeterred I asked about the following night and was told I could have 5.30pm or 9.30pm. I replied that these were too early and too late respectively and was met with blank stares and shrugged shoulders. As a hotel guest, I rather thought I should be able to have dinner in the hotel restaurant at least one night during my stay so I politely expressed my disappointment in having just arrived, found my room not ready and the restaurant fully booked for the entire (two day) duration of my stay.

Miraculously and somewhat strangely, this one sentence that I uttered somehow led to the whole evening being opened up and I was able to book a table at the time of my choice for that evening. Whilst at least they did accommodate me, the ease in which they were able to do so was actually quite annoying and made me wonder why I had been told the restaurant was booked out in the first place. I could not help but think it was something to do with pretentiousness as I had just had a long train journey, was dressed for travel, was hot and a bit untidy and maybe didn't look the part right then.

The good news was that by the time I went back to reception our room, which was on the 46th floor, was ready and we were escorted to it.

So far, all the décor in the hotel we had seen was attractive and contemporary and it was therefore something of a surprise when we got to our room. It looked like something circa the late 80's / early 90's. Green carpet, black wooden furniture throughout including the most bizarre integrated TV cabinet/ minibar / general cupboard thing, which dominated the room and defies description, except to say it was awful. As was the coffee table which was held up by a pair of carved human arms. The TV was a bit small for this class of hotel in Tokyo, probably about 30 inch and also had very few English channels to chose from, our previous Tokyo hotel room had a 50 inch flat screen and loads of English language channels. One night we decided to order the Harry Potter movie but the "full screen view" turned out to be a six inch band through the middle of the TV, so we turned it off and demanded the £10 be refunded.

On the positive side, it was a very spacious room and the bed was huge. The bathroom was also spacious and not quite as dated as the bedroom. Off the bathroom, we had a generous space for storing luggage and a dressing area. The views from the room were stunning especially at night and I think most rooms would have had a great view.

After dumping our bags and a quick freshen up, we decided to go back to that famous bar / restaurant on the 52nd floor for a quick cocktail. But we were met at the door and told we could not go in as it does not open until 5pm, we found this very odd for a bar in a 5 star hotel, surely these are normally open most of the day and certainly by 4.15pm. We were told there was a lounge on the 41st floor so we headed down here instead. We wanted a table by the window and took the only one available, only to be told that this particular area of the bar did not open until 5pm! We were sat only a few feet from the area which was open and the people serving would have to walk past us more or less anyway, it all seemed very unaccommodating and we did have to move to the designated area and therefore miss out on a window table, very disappointing with views like this.

We headed back to the upstairs bar half an hour before our dinner reservation so we could enjoy the great views over a pre-dinner cocktail. It is a very pleasant space, the views did not disappoint although from memory the bar looks nothing like it did in the film. Dinner was good too, we decided to have a western meal this night after almost two weeks of Japanese cuisine, we both started with the fois gras and then I had duck and my husband had veal. The food was delicious but pricey, £220 for two courses and a bottle of wine. A bottle of water was down as £10, but thankfully tap water is very drinkable in Japan!

The following evening, after a visit to the local Irish bar, we decided to have some room service. It was delivered promptly and was not as expensive as in the restaurant, but was very ordinary fare. On our departure day, we decided to have a quick brunch in the lounge area on the 41st floor, it was more or less empty, yet when we asked for a window table the staff still were reluctant to accommodate us, claiming they were all booked (although there were still empty tables by the time we left), but we were given a window table on the side of the building with the not quite as good views.

The day before we left, we booked the airport shuttle bus through the hotel at a cost of £15 each. At checkout our bags were taken from us and were waiting for us when we went to get on the bus two hours later, the bus picked us up and departed exactly on time.

The cost per night was ¥67,200 which translates to about £335.

To sum up, this hotel was something of a disappointment and did not live up to my expectations. I felt it was living off its past fame (some members of staff did mention the film to us) and it was pretentious but had no reason to be. I would not go back and I would not recommend it to anyone.
Park Hyatt Tokyo
3-7-1-2 Nishi Shinjuku
Tokyo, Japan, 163-1055


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