Along the way, I flew on some of the world’s best airlines and shared my thoughts on the ground and in the air. The cash cost for the airfare alone would have been well more than $17,000. Using miles and points, however, I knocked the cost down to around $500. Learn how to travel like I do with PointsAway: The Definitive Guide To Free Flights & Nights.
Every time I set foot in a room or board a plane these days, a small, silent prayer crosses my mind:
“Lord, may I never be so spoiled and jaded as some of the schmucks over at FlyerTalk.”
Before I left, I’d read accounts on FT about how the Hyatt Regency Tokyo was the fourth of four in Hyatt’s Tokyo lineup and a “slum” compared to the Grand Hyatt, Park Hyatt and the brand new Andaz, all located nearby.
However, the Hyatt Regency was available for a bargain 12,000 points or 6,000 points + $75 per night. The Andaz and Grand Hyatt both cost 25,000 points or 12,500 points + $150 per night, while the Park Hyatt ran for 30,000 points or 15,000 points + $300 per night.
The Grand Hyatt wasn’t available for Points + Cash for the nights I was there, anyway, and as nice as the Park Hyatt is renowned to be, I just wasn’t willing to part with the cash or points required for a couple nights there in a room I’d barely see while out exploring most of the day.
I caught a limo bus from Tokyo Haneda, where I’d flown in from Osaka for 4,500 Avios in an Economy seat on JAL, and arrived at the hotel about an hour later, bracing myself for a repeat of the Sheraton in Osaka. Spoiled and jaded attitude aside, that hotel had been a legitimate – if minor – disappointment, with aging fixtures and staff that were less able to communicate in English than might be expected from an American-branded property. Instead, I was impressed with how nice this “slum” turned out to be.
I was greeted in perfect English and my bags were swept away as soon as I arrived. The lobby was very large, with three huge chandeliers and a bit of stained glass giving the place a sense of old luxury.
Most modern and luxurious Hyatt locations tend to be purposely understated these days, with rich woods and modernist touches but nothing particularly bold. I like the older style just fine.
I rolled up to the front desk around noon, much earlier than the set check-in time. I fully expected to be told to come back later, and settle for a place to leave my bags while I did a bit of exploring. Instead, the attendant apologized for not having a King room available yet, and wondered if it would be okay for her to give me a multiple-level upgrade to a room with two double beds instead. I agreed, happy to have any room available fairly early in the day and without the status that served me well at the Hilton Sydney, and made my way up to the room.
The room had obviously been refurbished recently, and they’d done a good job. The beds were comfortable and fixtures modern, with power buttons for night lights, reading lamps, room lights and the window shade all embedded in the nightstands.
The view was excellent, showcasing much of the local area, with several banners celebrating Tokyo’s successful 2020 Olympics bid in sight.
The TV was large and received HD feeds, which is always a big plus in my book. A couple English channels were available, too, besting the options at the Sheraton in Osaka.
There was a fully-stocked mini-bar and tea kettle set, along with a selection of teas and accompaniments.
The bathroom area offered both a shower and a bathtub.
The drawers by the standing bowl sink were rife with amenities.
The toilet was in its own room, along with a small sink, and featured the array of amenities that seem a little ludicrous to the American eye but are a must to Japanese travelers: front and rear washers, a heated seat and probably Wi-Fi.
Speaking of Wi-Fi, that was the one disappointment I encountered with this room. The room’s amenities booklet instructed guests to call housekeeping if they wanted to use Wi-Fi. I did, and a man shortly arrived with a small wireless base station that he plugged into the ethernet connection at the desk.
This wasn’t free; the cheapest plan was 24 hours for 300¥, which I reluctantly agreed to for one night. The hotspot I was relying on while out and about didn’t pick up a strong signal from the room, so I needed an in-room connection. At least it was fast, perhaps evidence that most were unwilling to pay even a couple bucks for what should be a free amenity.
Housekeeping service did a nice job each day. A paper crane left on one of the pillows was a nice touch.
The hotel also ran a free shuttle every 15 minutes for much of the day to Shinjuku Station, perhaps a kilometer away, which provided convenient access to a number of shopping and dining options and trains to just about anywhere else in town you’d like to see. Unfortunately, service ended by 10PM each night, which left me walking what felt like miles at the end of each night from the station on feet sore from days full of walking.
I had breakfast in the restaurant at lobby level the morning following my first night’s stay. I hadn’t eaten much the day before, so I gobbled down as much as possible from the buffet.
A chef was cooking made-to-order omelets and a number of pastries, cereals, juices and hot items friendly to the American palette were available. Additionally, there was a fair-sized salad bar and a number of Japanese items also on display, along with a variety of cheeses and breads. Though it was about $30, I certainly got my money’s worth, plowing through several plates.
There are a number of other restaurants at the Hyatt Regency, open for lunch and dinner, including a French restaurant of particular renown. Between exploring and sticking to my tight budget, I passed on these, which offered fair lunch prices but steep dinner rates.
Overall, I enjoyed my stay at the Hyatt Regency very much. I wouldn’t hesitate to stay here again in the future over the Grand Hyatt. It’s in the Roppongi area of town, but no better situated in relation to its sites than the Hyatt Regency is to Shinjuku’s; both are fairly convenient.
I’d consider staying at the Andaz or Park Hyatt if price weren’t a huge factor and I planned on spending more time on property.
That said, I have a tough time imagining a scenario where I’d be in Tokyo and have the time to enjoy the on-site amenities enough to justify the extra expense. I’d rather choose the best value, a cash + points stay at the Hyatt Regency, and spend my time exploring before coming back to a comfortable room at the end of the day.