In October, we found an excellent way to fly the United island hopper with a final destination of Shanghai, where I was excited to return to my beloved Park Hyatt. The world had other plans, as the coronavirus required us to re-route. In the end, we settled on Osaka and Kyoto, primarily so we could try the new Park Hyatt Kyoto.
Park is the flagship brand of Hyatt and is known for representing timeless luxury. Though I find some Park Hyatts to be stuffy and dated (looking at you, Park Hyatt Tokyo), I had a good feeling about Park Hyatt Kyoto. Luckily, we stayed here three months later than their October 30, 2019 opening date, which allowed us to avoid some of the teething issues present with all new hotels. The result: perfection personified.
Booking The Room
Park Hyatt Kyoto is a category seven property, requiring a World of Hyatt Category 1-7 certificate or 30,000 points per night for a standard 45sqm room. It’s critical to note that the property is rather small with only 70 rooms. The cash rates tend to be incredibly high, usually over $700 per night plus taxes. We settled on using a Category 1-7 certificate for this, as it represents incredible value.
As the small property size may indicate, there are very few suites available. There is only one standard suite, the 68sqm Park Suite, which is eligible for Suite Upgrade Awards or complimentary Globalist Upgrades. That said, many recent reviews of the property indicate that Suite Upgrade Awards are incredibly hard to apply at this property, and the chance of a complimentary upgrade is near zero. There are two premium suites as well: the 68sqm Ninenzaka House and 90sqm Higashiyama house. These would both be bookable with 60,000 World of Hyatt points per night.
As we had only a single night stay and used a free night certificate, we didn’t attempt to upgrade to a suite. Given that the standard suite is only 23sqm larger than the basic room (and many non-suite upgrade rooms are also 68sqm), I’m not convinced upgrading would be worth it unless you know you need the space.
Arrival and Check-In
Kyoto doesn’t have its own airport, so visitors will almost invariably fly into Osaka-Kansai (international) or Osaka-Itami (domestic) for a stay at Park Hyatt Kyoto. A public taxi from either of these airports all the way to the hotel will cost over $100 USD. Instead, we took the ~$25 USD Kansai Airport Limousine Bus service to Kyoto Station and then a short ~$2 USD bus ride to get within a 10-minute walk of the hotel. Total travel time was around two hours, getting us to the hotel just around 9PM.
Our first look at the property assured me that we were in store for a phenomenal stay.
As we approached the door, a woman grabbed our luggage immediately and guided us through a small garden and several wooden sliding doors. The rocks in the garden were sourced from the Telluride home of the Pritzker family, the owners of Hyatt.
The lobby was dimly-lit and sleek, with unique ceiling lighting and comfortable seating all around. Soothing, ambient music filled my ears; finally, the long travel day was over, and I was in heaven.
A front desk agent greeted us by name and invited us to sit down. This is one advantage of a small property; they can easily personalize the service from the very start of the experience. She asked if we wanted some champagne, which was an easy yes. A bar attendant wearing white gloves approached less than a minute later, presenting us the bottle and filling our glasses.
The same agent approached us, knelt down, and talked to us a bit about our plans for our stay in Kyoto and Osaka. She casually requested passports and credit cards along the way, in between telling us about the property and asking us about our trip. It was fascinating; it didn’t feel like we were in the check-in process at all. Rather, it felt like we were catching up with a friend.
An important note for Globalists is that this property is technically categorized as a resort property, meaning that 4PM check-out is not guaranteed. Rooms not being available until after check-in time was a common complaint in the first few weeks after this property opened, so this small change helps ensure that guests don’t have this issue going forward. While you’ll want to savor every minute there, the lack of 4PM checkout didn’t impact our plans on this trip.
After the check-in was finished, she told us to enjoy our champagne and that she would guide us to our room when we were ready. After we finished our glasses and stood up, she showed up nearly instantly. She took us to elevators through The Living Room, an area at the back of the lobby where Japanese breakfast and an evening bar is available.
We went straight to the fifth floor (the property has seven floors in total). As we walked, she told us about the history of the property, including how the Pritzker family knew the owners of Kyoyamato, a legendary Japanese restaurant. They struck a deal, building the Park Hyatt Kyoto on the grounds of Kyoyamato, which is well-integrated into the property. You can tell you’re at a Park Hyatt by the sheer beauty of the floor signage, carved into local Japanese wood.
Once we arrived at the fifth floor, we passed by the Tea Lounge, which is only available in the mid-afternoon, and a small floor lounge closer to our room.
The entrance to the room was minimalist, with a small lamp resting at the giant wooden doors.
We were upgraded to a King Bed Garden Terrace room. Though this room is the same size as the standard room, it gave us a private walk-in Japanese garden with seating. It was very unique, but I certainly would have preferred a room with a view, which is technically a higher category upgrade.
Resting on the table was a welcome amenity of two types of strawberries (which are in season in Japan this time of year). These were some of the most delicious strawberries I’ve ever eaten. There was a note card to explain the two types as well.
Needless to say, the room was incredibly beautiful and spacious. The art on the walls was minimal. Instead, fragrant, Japanese wood accented the room, leaving us feeling calm and relaxed. Vibrant Japanese marble was present in the bathroom as well. Everything was perfectly clean. Because of our late arrival, turndown service had already been provided.
Every item was perfectly placed, with symmetry and right angles found throughout the room. Simply existing in the room was satisfying to the senses. My sole complaint is that the small couch was rather uncomfortable, as the padding was as minimal as the art on the walls.
On each nightstand rested a bottle of water, phone, notepad, and a set of switches to control the lighting in the room. There were plenty of power outlets near each head of the bed as well. Japan uses the same plugs as the USA, so no adapter needed.
The garden terrace in the room was rather small, but a unique room characteristic I hadn’t experienced before.
The room was very conducive to sleep, with excellent noise-proofing and a cozy atmosphere. I slept like a baby…that is, until the jetlag woke me up at 5AM. But that’s no fault of the room.
Property Amenities & Restaurants
After we settled into the room, we visited the fitness center and spa. Park Hyatt Kyoto includes a small onsen for men and women. There’s a hot pool, cold pool, plus dry and wet saunas, along with two shower areas. Though it was small, given the property size I doubt it is ever too full. We shared the area with 3-5 other men when we were there. The onsen is open from 7AM-10PM, but our front desk agent told us if we wanted to stick around a bit longer, it would be no problem.
Attached to the onsen is a large workout facility with excellent, new equipment. The wellness center is structured as a long hallway with different equipment at regular intervals to the side. The workout area is well-stocked with headphones, water, fruit, and towels. It’s open 24/7, perfect for jetlagged souls like us!
The next morning, we also walked around the hotel to investigate the restaurant scene. Kyoto Bistro, located on the ground floor, is the three-meal-a-day restaurant, serving the western breakfast and more casual options throughout the day. On the fourth floor is the Teppanyaki grill, Yasaka, and their sister bar, Kohaku. Both of these boast intimate dining areas with unparalleled city views.
Most hotel reviews wouldn’t demand a separate category simply for breakfast. Park Hyatt Kyoto, however, deserves accolades for just how incredible their breakfast is, and the variety of ways it can be consumed. As Hyatt Globalist, we had breakfast included in our reservation.
Like most hotels in Asia, Park Hyatt Kyoto offers both a western and local breakfast option. The Western option is a buffet with additional a la carte menu at Kyoto Bistro. The Japanese breakfast option is catered by Kyoyamato itself, meaning it is certainly worth a try. This is served in the Living Room, located in the lobby. Kyoyamato limits their catering to only 60 Japanese breakfasts per day, so it’s important to secure these at check-in, or even earlier. Both options can also be delivered as room service.
We wanted to sample all of the property’s offerings, so we emailed them in advance requesting a 7:30AM room service breakfast. They confirmed that one Japanese breakfast had been set aside and said we would order our western one upon arrival. This was acknowledged by the property on arrival; they provided us the western menu and took down our order in our room the night we arrived.
After our early morning walk, we arrived back to the room at 7:25AM and a room service attendant was already waiting for us with our food. Perhaps it’s good that she was early, as she took seven minutes to set up the meal in our room. Watching her to do so was fascinating, as it was clear that every item had a specific purpose and designated place. She also carefully explained each item and how to consume it.
We had initially requested mango juice, but she said that they did not have any, so she brought fresh orange, pineapple, and grapefruit juice and encouraged us to take all of them. That is how service recovery is done!
The quality of the food was incredible. As someone who does not typically enjoy Japanese breakfast food, I promise you that I would eat this meal again and again without any issue. The presentation was simply stunning and done perfectly. I cannot praise this hotel enough for its incredible breakfast. And I truly wished I had made a reservation at Kyoyamato for dinner!
After our leisurely breakfast, it was time to say goodbye and move onto Osaka, where we enjoyed the phenomenal value of the Hyatt Regency.
Wow, wow, wow! I fell in love with this hotel the moment I saw it, and fell even deeper in love the longer I stayed. The hotel appears to have worked out their opening service issues, as nobody skipped a beat during our entire stay.
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