Tokyo is everything extrovert introvert – bright, bold and bolshy on the outside, minimalist and considered on the inside. The kind of city you want to party with, have deep conversations with and chill with all in the one weekend.
It would be sacrilege to ski and snowboard in Japan and bypass Tokyo. This entrancing Japanese capital city of 37 million residents surprises and delights with every alley, lane, parkway and canal, from the show stopping colour filled streets of Harajuku to the third wave coffee kissaten dens.
The city is best seen from on high to grasp the vastness of this never-ending metropolis that sprawls out to views of Mt Fuji on one side and down to the sea on the other. And the best place to check it all out from above? The Park Hyatt, Tokyo.
It’s been 29 years since the Park Hyatt hotel was built in 1994, and 20 years since Hollywood block buster Lost in Translation put the hotel (and the views) on the global map. Not only does this luxe hotel provide an oasis of respite from the sensory overload that Tokyo can bring, it also provides a 360 degree view from the top 14 floors of a 52 story tower.
Entry to the Park Hyatt Tokyo is via a sweeping circular drive and a small lobby that houses British artist Anthony Donaldsons provocative Airflow sculpture with a side hustle of refined desserts from the Pastry Boutique (don’t mind if I do).
Step into the art adorned elevator, head skyward and prepare to be entranced by a four story glass bamboo garden atrium that frames the famed skyline views on the 41st floor where guests check in via a discrete lounge.
Originally designed by Pritker Prize winning architect, Dr Kenzo Tange with interior designer John Morford, the hotel shouts more urban-members-club-residence-in-the-clouds than street hotel. There are books and art work at every turn, though it’s hard to take your eyes off the city and Mt Fuji views.
Standard guest rooms are seriously spacious, a treat in the compact world of Tokyo, with an old world charm that spells comfort. Expect walk in wardrobes and Nespresso for in-house coffee. A giant marble and granite bathroom with every amenity takes pride of place for daily soaks in a deep tub to soothe the aching feet from all that day-walking devouring the city.
This is old school allure, not new school glamour, though a property-wide refresh is slated for 2024 when the hotel will receive a facelift to bring the hotel up to date in a city filled with glitzy new digs from the world’s best hotel brands. The Park Hyatt still holds its own, but a refurb will ensure it continues to.
Waking to a view, on a clear day, out to Mt Fuji as the blinds automatically lift across the mammoth picture window is certainly something else. Knowing that Tokyo lays below ready to explore, takes it next level.
But first, breakfast. Is there anything better than impeccably created Japanese style breakfast filled with trinkets and intricate bowls? I had intended to try the western style buffet at Girandole, the all day brasserie style dining offering, but never got past the traditional Japanese breakfast for two mornings straight and tried the healthy green breakfast option on day three.
Gourmands certainly won’t go hungry at the Park Hyatt. Start with breakfast then Delicatessen for lunch then The Peak Lounge and Bar for afternoon tea and champagne. For authentic Japanese cuisine overlooking Mt Fuji on the 52nd foor head to Kozue. Then, for serious boasting rights hit the New York Grill & Bar and make a dent on the 1800 bottles of wine in the restaurants cellar.
You’ll need to work it all off within the two story Club on the Park spa and fitness centre that features “that rooftop pool”, you know the one, where Scarlett Johansson dives in.
The location may be the biggest drawer card, in all honesty. Not just for the views but for the easy access to Shinjuku shopping, nightlife and station.
Tokyo Metro is such an easy way to get around the city and taxis when needed are not expensive. The station is walking distance from the Park Hyatt (though the hotel also offers a shuttle) and is the city’s largest transportation hub so there literally is nowhere you can’t get to.
The Golden Gai bar district of 270 tiny bars is not far away, as is the coveted Isetan department store and the Yoyogi Park.
The best way to end a day before starting a night in Tokyo is with a sundowner at the New York Bar, the same bar in which Bill Murray and Scarlet Johannsen first meet in Lost in Translation. There’s that all encompassing view again, this time served up with some live music on the grand piano and a cocktail.
You know you’re staying in a wonderful hotel when, despite the allure of Tokyo’s art and museums and shopping and dining, you can’t wait to get “home” and spend more time in your room and surrounds. The Park Hyatt has that classic luxury element of individual care and detail that makes you feel safe, secure and cocooned.
It will cost you though, rooms are not cheap but well worth the splash out if you have around AUD$1000 a night. If you’re really flush then upgrade to the Tokyo Suite complete with grand piano and send us a postcard from the black marble tub.
Three nights is an ideal amount of time to get a Tokyo fix and still enjoy a solid amount of days skiing and snowboarding in Japan’s ski regions. If you’re heading to Honshu fields then the fast shinkansen trains will get you there.
This is the last winter to experience the original Lost in Translation hotel as from May 2024 the hotel will close for a year while it undergoes a stunning refurbishment and will reopen in the second quarter of 2025.
*the author was hosted by the Park Hyatt, Tokyo